Last night, after our bi-monthly meeting, the girls in my writing group and I went to check out an open mic night hosted by the St. Louis Writers' Guild. It happened to be held at a bar literally feet away from where we usually meet in South City, so we figured what the heck?
It was...interesting. To say the least. It was apparently their 'loudmouth' version of open mic night, which means pretty much anything goes. And go it did last night. It started off with an awkward poet who left a lot to be desired. Bless his heart, he got up there and read his stuff, which takes a lot of guts, but whew. Not a great start. It only picked up from there, though. The next guy apparently is practicing to be a stand up comic, so between his routine he read a vulgar poem of sorts about vagina shortening (the procedure, not a spray-on-Pam type of sex toy, as he explained). He had his moments, but he definitely thought he was a lot funnier than he was.
He was followed by both poets and short story writers, as well as a novelist, reading a chapter from her work-in-progress. It was a small crowd, so we were accosted from the beginning about whether we were there to read. We politely declined. We had to case the joint first.
We sat at a table in back with another first-timer, a very pleasant PhD student who moved here in July. During break a seasoned poet, and quite the character, came to scope us out and get our story. I can honestly say I've never met anyone quite like him. He's been published in 45 magazines, looked like a beatnick, and had traveled all over the world. Yes, we learned all of this within the span of 5 minutes. Then, one of the organizers, a sweet older man, came over to apologize for the resident 'comedian' and his tomfooleries. We were instantly taken by him - he was so darn pleasant, and had a sense of humor to boot. There seemed to be such camaraderie amongst these folks, it was really comforting. I definitely felt as though I could have read there and been wholly accepted, whether I was good or not. And believe me, there was some talent there, both in poetry and fiction. One girl wrote a story so darn funny at one point I was wiping tears from my eyes. That's serious.
As we got up to leave they thanked us for coming, and made us promise to read the next time we attended. If we attend again, that is. I think we all enjoyed it. Enough to get up and read our work? Only time will tell.