Montreal Poetry Nite is back, after the closing of Kafein bar put the long-running gathering on hiatus. Now hosted weekly at Chez Morrígan, the newly transformed former Crobar discreetly located on Crescent Street, Poetry Nite relaunched on July 31 to an eager crowd of artists ready to share their work.
The new venue is funky and intimate. Comfy banquets, candles, and notebooks for doodling made Poetry Nite feel like an ideal place to meet new friends. A rooftop bar and terrace provided a relaxed spot to chat over drinks (both alcoholic and not) during the 30 minute intermission between sets.
The Wednesday night lineup was studded with a mix of seasoned veterans and courageous newbies. The diverse crowd brought an eclectic mix of language, style and subject matter. Each performer took to the stage to share a selection of poems, songs, and stories. Talented hands strummed guitars and shaky voices read journal entries written about past experiences from the traumatic to victorious. Each piece was welcomed enthusiastically with applause, the audience responding to each author with respect and reflection.
It must have been that positive, safe, and welcoming vibe that beckoned me to participate and not just observe. While enjoying my Riesling, it occurred to me that despite having multiple degrees in writing and having written ever-so-many words, I had never read any of my poems in public. Inspired by other first-time performers, I used the intermission to sign up on the roster to perform during the second half of the night.
As time ticked down, I could feel my hands grow clammy and my heart palpitate. Every time M.C. Malek Yalaoui announced the next artist from the list on her phone, I felt my mind race and stomach flutter. I knew the piece I wanted to perform; was a poem I wrote several years ago after a break up. I had rehearsed it to myself for months as I waded through that painstaking end-of-a-relationship grief.
When I finally stepped into the violet light bathing the stage, I held my phone and read the four-and-a-half year old poem out loud to a room full of strangers. I’m not going to lie, it was difficult. I think I may have stopped breathing for a minute. But, as another performer said during the night, the reading of poetry is an ancient tradition that has brought people together for millennia. Once I started reading, somehow my anxiety lifted. Perhaps an instinct as old as antiquity took over and I felt distinctly human in a way I wasn’t altogether averse to.
Overall, Poetry Nite is a great place to check out local Montreal artists, support the scene, and potentially meet a few cuties. Check out Poetry Nite every Wednesday at 1221 Crescent Street. Doors open at 7pm and readings start at 8pm. Admission is $5 or PWYC.