SoulFood Poetry Night

On 18 July 2006, I started the monthly SoulFood Poetry Night at SoulFood Books in Redmond, Washington. The bookstore had just opened in April or May, and when I saw the beautiful stage and sound system they had (plus live video streaming), I immediately thought it would be a perfect place for a poetry reading, and they agreed. Lana Hechtman Ayers helped me curate the series from 2006 to the end of 2011, and then Tanya McDonald helped until September 2014. Readings are held on the third Thursday of each month. A distinctive aspect of the series (Lana’s great idea) is that we ask one featured reader to choose his or her own coreader, thus bringing fresh voices to the series. Another distinctive aspect is that we ask each featured reader to read a poem of their own that they designate as their “soulfood” poem, and bring a printout of it to add to the poetry binder we keep in the store. With ten years of two featured readers nearly every month (snowstorms have cancelled it a couple of times), that’s a lot of soulfood poems! The readings commence with each of the two featured readers, followed by a break for refreshments, then the open-mic. Videos of nearly every reading have been streamed live, and can be viewed by reading date on the SoulTribeTV site. We’ve had as many as 55 people show up (like when we had Washington State poet laureate Sam Green as our guest), although usual attendance has been about 20 to 30 most months. Our long list of featured readers is a who’s who of the Seattle-area poetry scene. For more information, visit SoulFood Poetry Night.