Warm welcome for Open Mic at The Nicollet

Taking the stage to share a song, poem, joke or story with a room full of strangers can be quite intimidating. But there has been no shortage of willing participants at The Nicollet’s Open Mic Nights that I’ve attended. The talent has been plentiful, colorful, and as eclectic as the art adorning the café’s walls.  Open Mic kicked off in August after a series of developments, including The Nicollet obtaining a liquor license and adding nightly entertainment. Since then, the spot has established new vitality and a new identity. Continue Reading

Soul Sounds: an open mic for nurturing arts, building community

I recently had the opportunity to attend Soul Sounds Open Mic where the featured artist was Danez Smith, who is a spoken word artist, slam poet, and author. It was an intimate crowd of about 40 people, with some attendees even dressed in Halloween costumes.Soul Sounds Open Mic takes place at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul every week, and is community collaboration between the Saint Paul Almanac and Golden Thyme Coffee Café. The goal of Soul Sounds is to create a safe, multigenerational, and diverse space for people to create and share work while engaging in active dialogue that promotes connection and community.The first artist of the night at last week’s Soul Sounds was Mimz, a spoken word artist who shared a poem called The Right One, about her search to find the right man. She also performed a poem about the trials and tribulations of raising her daughter to be a strong and proud black woman, which the crowd enjoyed.As the artists blessed the stage one by one, they touched on a number of topics: from losing a child, to molestation, to saving one’s self for the right person. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | All voices are heard at OUTspoken’s first Queer Open Mic event.

The Fox Egg Gallery in Minneapolis was packed full of nearly a hundred queer identified individuals and allies on Wednesday, October 9th 2013. Nikolas Martell, wearing a shiny purple bandeau with matching green hotpants and black high heels, and Paul Canada with a shiny red robe and a pearl necklace walked to the stage to host the kick off to the first ever OUTspoken Queer Open Mic event. “We want this to be an inclusive space, respect that please.” Says Martell. OUTspoken was started by Martell and Canada as an idea for an inclusive art space for queer identified individuals in the Twin Cities Area “Queer artists in the Twin Cities have needed this space for a really long time.” Says Renee Schminkey, the featured artist for the night’s event. The idea began when Martell and Canada were talking about ways they could “improve the community, bring the community together and find space for new voices.” One day Canada sent Martell a text message: ‘Queer open mic?’ to which Martell simply replied ‘Yes.’ and from there OUTspoken began to form together. Continue Reading

Cracked Walnut: A monthlong literary reading crawl in the Twin Cities

Since March 18, Cracked Walnut has been presenting 20 literary readings across the metro area, and one reading in Duluth. These readings feature a mixture of over 50 poets and prose artists. The series will conclude on April 12 at Cafe Bene in St. Paul.Cracked Walnut founder Satish Jayaraj started the program as a means of bringing literary readings into unusual locations within different communities. In the past, they’ve presented readings in a funeral parlor, a grocery store, and a public park. Continue Reading

Liberian-American spoken word artist is home at last

“This is a year of completion for me,” e.g. bailey says in the office of Trú Rúts Endeavors, the multidisciplinary arts organization that he runs with his wife, Sha Cage. His struggle to fit in America is not unlike that of many African immigrants. He attributes his success as an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and producer to this struggle of finding a home away from home. bailey who was born in Saclepea, Liberia, is the son of a white Peace Corps volunteer and a Liberian mother. His father, bailey says, “threw a dart, hit Liberia, and that’s where he got stationed.” Continue Reading

Chris Shillock: Successor to the beatnik poets

If you’re not quite old enough to know, ask your mama what a beatnik is. Today’s art of spoken word is fine and the whole nine, but for dyed-in-the-wool prose-poetry, the era of firebrands Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg and such is where it’s at. Thankfully, we have in the Twin Cities, strong successors like J. Otis Powell, Louis Alemayehu and one Chris Shillock, who’s been burning up the underbrush this past decade plus some with his books (The Revolutionary’s Creed, Testament of Fear, Millennium City, Irregular Conjugations) and appearance at, among other area outlets, Minnesota Spoken Word Association, Minnesota Fringe Festival and S.A.S.E.: the Write Place. Shillock hitches things up a notch, releasing Invisible Jazz, for which he partners with vocalist Tabatha Predovich, backed by David Gullickson (drums), Tom Zosel (tenor sax), Rich Patterson (guitar/composer), and Lynette Reini-Grandell (violin). He briefly spoke with Dwight Hobbes for the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Continue Reading