I don’t write nearly enough about open mics and poetry in my beloved home city. Not because I don’t go, but because…well, honestly I don’t know why,
The Triangle has its share of strong, steady poetry events—slams in Durham and Chapel Hill, page poet affairs at bookstores in Chapel Hill and Fearrington Village, and a monthly series brilliantly titled “Two Writers Walk Into a Bar.” That one’s not actually an open mic, but it’s my favorite take-myself-on-a-poetry-date event these days.
Raleigh proper has a few too, but nothing downtown since Tongue & Groove lost its venue and our mojo got stuck in a loop. Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating…
So when RHINO Poetry magazine put out a call for hosts to throw readings/open mics as part of its 40th anniversary celebration, I figured I’d give hosting another go. By way of sponsorship, they offered up some seriously fabulous poetswag:
- 7 issues of their annual publication — that’s, like, 861 poems (give or take)!
- a T-shirt featuring their 2016 cover art and the legend “poetry changes everything” (it does, y’know)
- bookmarks with upcoming submission deadlines and, of course, a bonus poem
- ultracute poetry buttons.
And my favorite poet premium ever: a rhino cookie cutter and recipe for rolled sugar cookies.
Rhino cookies, people!
Much Love from The Berkeley
RHINO offered up suggestions but left the format, venue, and details to me and my fellow host—which is wise, as every city, every venue, and every host is different.
So we found a friendly home at downtown Raleigh’s Berkeley Cafe (where we occasionally poet-bomb their Wednesday night music open mic). We alerted the Triangle’s poets via the Living Poetry Meet-Up and Facebook. And we set to baking with the aid of my daughters.
Because, rhino cookies.
Thus armed, there was really no way the night could fail, and we had a nice turnout of 10 poets and another dozen or so friends and entourage.
Durham-transplant Kelly Lenox—whose work I adore—read two of her poems from prior issues of Rhino: So You Want to Go Spelunking (2005) and In the Country of the Bone Flute (2009).
We also heard a series of personals ads written by angels (fallen and otherwise), political poems about war and feminism, confessionals of identity, a fond comparison of beautiful women and kites, and an especially delightful chocolate sonnet.
We came for the poems. We all got cookies. And seven lucky people went home with a volume of RHINO (determined by drawing using the cookies as ersatz raffle tickets). My daughters even enjoyed it, and not just because one of them won the T-shirt (which she really really really wanted on account of the unicorn).
Perhaps best of all, I got another shot at making an open mic happen, alongside my favorite co-host, in the heart of downtown Raleigh.
And I totally kept the cookie cutter.