I've been trying to visit as many of the open mic/poetry reading venues as I can without driving on the freeway. Last night I went to The Ugly Mug, a place I've been hearing about for some time, since a student in my creative writing class several years ago wrote a poem about reading at their open mic.
It's a cheerful little place in downtown Orange, ensconced in one of the lovely old Victorian houses that still fill the streets of this town, which has been used to represent 40s or 50s Americana for decades and probably still is.
Run by a grouchy, paranoid character who nonetheless is kind enough to allow his cafe to be overrun by hordes of poets for a $3.00 cover charge every Weds. night, this is a welcoming room, with excellent sound equipment and sufficient seating.
The directors of the series, two poets who bill themselves as "two idiots peddling poetry," are interesting writers who have built a community in what is otherwise an isolating suburban wasteland of Orange County, CA.
The featured reader last night was Riverside poet Judy Kronenfeld, a landsman, being a Jewish poet from the east coast (New York).This milieu frequently comes up in her work, which is subtle, varied, sophisticated, and very moving. You can visit her blog at http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
She is clearly a kind and generous mentor as well, and my friend from graduate school, Lavina Blossom, is lucky to have her close by in Riverside. Lavina and one other poet will share a reading with her at Beyond Baroque on May 13. I would love to go, but it is not somewhere I can drive to myself, since it is located in Venice, CA, and I don't drive on freeways, particularly not in the L.A. area.
I spoke with many of the people in the room, most of whom had come to read their work and many of whom were regulars there. I know this is a place I will return to soon, though I will not be going every Weds. . I look forward to becoming a regular part of this new (for me) community.
Next week, Alta coffee house in Laguna!