Spoken Word St. John’s Going Strong After 4 Years of Poetry Open Mics

Over the course of the past four years SWSJ has helped shape our city’s poetry sceneby introducing lots of fresh, unique voices.

Spoken Word St. John’s (SWSJ) is hosting its monthly Poetry Open Mic on Sunday, August 20th at 7:30pm at The Ship Pub. This month’s featured reader is celebrated poet and musician Maggie Burton.

SWSJ marked four years of its hugely successful Poetry Open Mic series with a party at The Ship Pub this July. Musician, poet, and founder of the series Allie Duff was the featured reader at the special event and as per usual, anyone with a poem to share got a turn at the mic.

Poet and current organizer of the series, Emily Carrigan, explained that Duff launched the series in 2014 when there weren’t a lot of venues in the city for poets to share new and unpublished work.

The first Open Mic was held in the back of Fixed Coffee & Baking on Duckworth Street after the café closed for the night. The booths filled up quickly and people continued to pour in, taking up all the available standing room. After its packed debut, the series moved around a bit, operating out of different coffee shops and community spaces before finding a more permanent home at The Ship Pub.

“The Ship is so good to us, so welcoming and nothing goes better with poetry than some drinks,” Carrigan said.

Carrigan said the relaxed vibe at the bar makes it the perfect venue for the series, which aims to create an environment where writers feel comfortable reading to an audience for the first time.

“There’s a sense of community at the events that makes people feel brave about getting up there and sharing their work,” Carrigan said.

After the readings, people are encouraged to grab a beer and stick around for a chat about poetry. The events provide an invaluable opportunity for poets to receive feedback and be inspired by each other’s work.

Carrigan’s favourite moments at the series have been when people preface a reading by saying the work was influenced by something they heard at last month’s Poetry Open Mic.

“Art inspires art inspires art, I think that’s why SWSJ was created in the first place and it’s definitely why we keep organizing these events,” Carrigan said.

The monthly events always showcase a featured reader, alternating between an established writer and a newbie. The newbies are often someone who read something particularly exciting at a previous Open Mic. Highlighting the work of emerging writers alongside well-known poets helps promote and encourage new writers.

Over the course of the past four years SWSJ has helped shape our city’s poetry scene by introducing lots of fresh, unique voices.

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