There’s a small meeting room at the back of Norb Andy’s a tavern on the south side of Capital Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets. In the late 70s, I joined with classmates in Sangamon State University’s Public Affairs Reporting Program to discuss Illinois politics under the big silver dome just a few blocks west. A few years later the cast of Guy Romans’ cast of Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid,” met there. I was a minor lead in that production and the whole crew were hale fellows and fems well met. Wednesday, April 21 I will meet for the first time with members of Springfield Poets and Writers. The group is comprised of poets, mostly, who read, recited and sang original songs often during open mic nights at Jimmy’s Sub Shop, Barnes & Noble, Bixby’s, IMO’s and Bernie & Betty’s Pizza. This will not be an open mic in the sense that readers/reciters sign in when they arrive and share in the order the names appear on the list. Names will be drawn from a hat. You’re on when your name is drawn. It’s a nifty approach. Participants who have their own poems and poems by favorite authors to share are asked to call the emcee Thea Chesley — 725-9058 — to “sign up” before we come together, starting at 6 pm in the back room.
There is no food service at Norb’s, but all comers are welcome to pick up something en route and bring it in. Two of the best downtown eateries with delivery are Gallina’s on Monroe close to 5th Street, a block and a half from Norb’s — 522-5271 — and Head West Subs just half a block away on Capital — 789-9101. All comers are invited to purchase drinks at Norb’s bar which has a fine variety of libations.
This first effort by Springfield Poets and Writers is a trial balloon; the first since a gathering last November when members met with members of a women’s writing group at a restaurant adjacent to Barnes & Noble. SPandW is accepting membership dues for the first time since the organization came together, and papers are on file with the Illinois Secretary of State. Anita Stienstra is president. I am a dues-paying member.
It’s hard to predict how things will go because we don’t know what kind of turnout to expect. Since there’s no cover charge, it would be appropriate for all comers to purchase at least a soft drink or coffee from the bar. One consideration in selecting a site was to find a place where a person could have a beer or better in the “spirit” that such refreshments stimulate creativity among creative people and enhance the enjoyment of those in the audience. People who LIKE poetry are as important Wednesday night from 6 to 8 as people who write creatively. Strangers will be welcome. Long-time readers/reciters are “family” but we are a family who wants to grow.
I’m not bringing my guitar, though I played it just over a week ago at a Jacksonville Poetry Variety Show. I am in a nutty (“damn the torpedoes, my poetry will be my confession and my craft.”) mood. I will READ two poems no one has heard before that reflect that attitude and recite a Vachel Lindsay poem I’ll be reciting at Vachel Lindsay Historic Site on Fifth Street Saturday. It will be my first time reciting “The Black Hawk War of the Artists,” and for a poem written in 1913, it shows Vachel to be as relevant for Earth Day this week, as he was for his time. If time and people permit, I’ll recite a poem folks have heard me recite before. Who knows what it will be? If it’s popular enough for people to remember me writing, I’ve memorized it already.
Memorizing poetry gives a poet a pistol with a magazine of as many poems as one can memorize and put into it, to fire at will, to enliven and enlighten a room.
I’m looking forward to the gathering, Wednesday, and I hope you will attend. Mention my Facebook “hippie name” — Moonflower Lotus Song — to me and I will give you your choice of one of my poetry books I will offer for sale.
Live long . . . . . . and proper.