Special thanks to Robert Cooper for the photos
How much do I love poetry? It seems like whatever city you visit on the East Coast, if you want to see some black people acting classy, you should ask, "where's the nearest poetry reading?" You find a cozy cafe or bar with an espresso machine and sit down to listen to people tell you about their gloomy lows, their mindblowing highs and more feelings than an episode of Dr. Phil.
There's this one place that we all go for poetry one night a week and it's great, and I bet that's what you THINK I'm talking about. And you're like, "wow, for real Tianna? I check out this blog and you're going to review the one spot that everyone in the world knows is the place in Hartford that you can see black people reading poetry?" That place is great, no question. But this is something new and different; a television show featuring area poets, taped right here in Hartford.
On Tuesday nights at Cloud 9, Shireal Renee hosts Poetz Corner, presented by accesstv.org. This is a live recording of poetry performances that are available on Access TV's website starting on Thursday evenings or Fridays of each week. I attended a taping last week and it's pretty cool the way this is run. It's less a poetry reading going on that a cameraman films, and more a show put on for an audience that will primarily be at home.
Shireal Renee is a great poet herself, and last week she kicked off the evening with one of her own original pieces. It was a bit somber and deep, but like a good host should, she was able to perk back up, smile and joke with the crowd like she hadn't just read a poem entitled "Cocaine". Afterwards, other poets in the house got to read their work on the mic, followed by a brief interview with the featured poet of the week.
So if you're coming to see the show, here's the deal. Shut the hell up. And frankly, this goes for any poetry night, open mic night, what have you. If you want to come in and chat with your friends at a bar with an open mic, just kindly usher yourselves out. Why pay money to act like you want to hear people bear their soul, when what you really want to do is talk all night? This is not a musical performance where the drums drown out your gab. You are talking over someone else talking! I'll never understand why I have to hear hosts beg all night for people to "respect the mic" and not talk while other people are performing. Not that anyone did that at this show. People were very respectful. But because of the live taping especially, this is not the type of show where you can zone out, tap out a couple text messages and chat.
All in all, this was an extremely positive experience and I look forward to going back. If you're free tonight, come out and see the show with featured guest poet Lynnette Johnson! There's DJ QT playing unsigned artists between each break, and Carla Canty does the casting. A lot of people doing great things, so show them some support!
When: Filmed on Tuesdays starting at 8, airs on accesstv.org on demand throughout the week.
Location: Cloud 9, 7 Congress Street, Hartford
Dress code: No sneakers or boots, no hats, hoodies or t-shirts. I'd suggest coming dressed on the nicer side in case you get photographed or videotaped.
**Happy Hour** There were some posted specials going on until 11 on wine and martinis. I'll make sure to edit when I know for sure.
A note: Because this is a taped event, you will have to sign a release saying that you're comfortable with being filmed before you enter the bar.