Last Friday night was Eve's Night Out (a local open-mic (mostly) poetry reading).It was such an amazing evening, I must go on record about the group and the several factors that make this an exceptional reading. First, it is only for women's voices. Men are encouraged to attend, but they may not read. If this seems exclusionary, it is not intended to be hurtful. Rather, the emphasis is on this being a safe place for women to speak their minds/hearts/souls. The fact that this reading is just for women has been very healing, nurturing, and empowering for many who attend.
Second, most women have worked through The Artist's Way which sets the tone as one where each voice, no matter how divergent, is supported -- every creative attempt, encouraged and lauded. This atmosphere is critical and there are few other poetry readings where it is so evident.Third, this is just a reading. There are no critiques, but there ARE compliments - genuine ones. This is not a "pat ourselves on the back and tell each other how great we are" group that pumps each other full of hot air. However, when someone does read something literarily exceptional, you can be sure she will be praised. When a woman writes her own healing and closure into a poem, you can be sure she will be affirmed for doing so. When someone opens her mouth and sings some divine melody (or one rendered in a quavery thin whisper), you can be sure we will hummmm along and sing her praises when she is done. If someone would write something truly terrible (which we don't believe happens), we see the gem in it.
The last thing that makes this group exceptional is the fact that we are located in the middle of nowhere - in a county pop. 16,000 sandwiched between two counties pop. 18,000. Yet we draw women from an hour away who drive winding mountain roads because we are so well fed by the positive energy of the evening. We leave inspired to write and to be kind.
Five months ago I was honored to be asked to co-host Eve's Night Out. I hope I do the evening/energy justice. The group has provided me so much inspiration and confidence that I am utterly indebted to it. I am completely dependent on it too. It spurs me to write (I must have new stuff to read each month). It inspires me to write (I get such good ideas from the women who attend). And it validates my work, because finally, I have an audience (it is not just my chicken scratchings).
The first night I attended, I knew something inside of me had shifted -- that I was on the right track to finding and using my voice.
I love the fact that the Eve's Night Out women have dedicated themselves to writing a peace poem a month. The fact that we always start late because we are so busy chatting with each other. The fact that we stay late continuing those conversations. The fact that all this takes place in an independent bookstore that we support.
Long live Eve's Night Out. Be well, all you women who have ever attended.