Cafe Zippy and Talicha J

Thursday night, I went to Everett Poetry Nite at Cafe Zippy for the first time. I’d been meaning to head up there for over a year, but had never got around to it, as the thought of fighting rush-hour traffic was totally unappealing. On this occasion, though, one of my online friends, Talicha Johnson, was the night’s featured reader, so it was time.

First things first. Although tired from her travels—not to mention rush-hour traffic—Talicha did great. There were a couple of poems that I’d hoped she’d do that she didn’t, but what she did do was great, plus she had a great rapport with the audience. Her set felt more like an informal gathering than the typical featured reading. Later, at the end of the evening, we got to chat for a few minutes, and I was able to snap a quick Polaroid (which I gave to her) before heading back home. After following her work and interacting with her online for the last three years, it was great to finally get to meet her face to face. There’s not a pretentious bone in her body, and she handled the evening’s shortcomings (traffic, fatigue, and the failure of the USPS to deliver her books) with grace and good humor. If you’re not familiar with Talicha J (as she is often known), there are some clips of her on YouTube, a spoken-word album on Bandcamp, and her book Falling in Love with Picking Myself Up is available through her website. Very little I could say would do her work justice; suffice it to say she is worth checking out.

As for the rest of the evening, the Cafe Zippy experience was the closest thing to what I’ve always pictured that I have experienced so far: a small stage, a microphone, and a receptive audience. (They also make a great grilled-cheese sandwich.) I regularly attend several open-mic readings in the area; all of them feel sedate in comparison.

In other words, these folks get it right. The schedule is clear (it gets posted on the Facebook event page), the host proceeds with the right mix of enthusiasm and discipline, and they attract an all-ages audience. They’re serious about their poetry, but they also know how to have fun. It’s hard to compare the material from one reading to another, but as I listened to some of the other folks reading their poems, I couldn’t help thinking that this is the place I need to be if I’m going to up my game, as it were.

So, it would appear I have a new focus for my poetry, a new audience to subject expose my work to. I’m looking forward to it.

(27 May 2016)