Did you ever look up and realize that you’re suddenly attending a wake? Last night it happened to me. I was out at my favorite open mic reading, a gathering named Last Wednesday. This one occurs once a month at the Elliott Bay Book Company, and I’ve been attending as time allows ever since I moved to Seattle. Last Wednesday is everything an open mic should be—supportive, diverse, unusual. The skill level of the writers varies, but the enthusiasm is always high. A fun time is had by all—or was.
Last night our fearless leader, Paul Constant, announced that he is leaving the bookstore to become books editor of The Stranger, our local alternative weekly. The bookstore doesn’t plan to continue the open mic. We were sad for our loss—no more haikus to write! One less place to share in the fellowship of the written word! Those who struggle to corral the language into meaning like to herd our masterpieces together, admiring the skill of the other verbiage ranchers. Alas! Still, the mood was festive—this was an Irish wake. We celebrated Paul, who is leading by example. He’s starting a paid job writing. Yay Paul!
One of the things I’ll miss the most about Last Wednesdays is Haiku-rama, Paul’s monthly game. At the start of every open mic, Paul would post a haiku of his own creation, underlining one of the atypical haiku words therein. He’d challenge us to create a haiku by the end of the evening, using that word. It always amazed me what people created in a short period of time, and besides, it was fun. It even paid! There was a small bounty of five dollars in change. Those who managed to produce on deadline—any haiku, no matter the quality, as long as it had the word—would receive their share of the spoils. Our phrase last night was Last Wednesdays. I share my last haiku as a tribute to Paul and all the writers who shared the stage at the open mic over the years. Let’s all keep writing, and find new places to share.
Adrift, no reading,
poets stranded on their chairs,
mourning Last Wednesdays.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:
12. Find a place in your community to meet others who share in your own interests, and check it out. We learn so much from each other!