Do you like poetry readings full of pompous windbags? Do you long to find artsy folks that revel in a captive audience so they can ramble on about how they know things about stuff because they’ve talked to one once? Me neither. I have wondered for a while now where to go to listen to some poetry and meet some creative people, maybe even read a poem or story myself. Finally- I have found the answer in Poetry Stew at the Art Life Gallery in El Segundo.
The Art Life Gallery is run by Vanessa Andrade and her artist co-op. I’m not sure what the fiscal logistics of this means; I just know that it creates a very cool place, showing a lot of different artists at once. The art is beautiful and as diverse as the many artists who are showing there. From jewelry to oil paintings to prints- there is art for everyone to enjoy and buy.
On the 3rd Thursday of every month, Art Life gallery opens its doors to the Poetry Stew people. Basically that is Cat and David McIntire; the nicest punk rock vegan anarchist poets you’ll ever meet. Their love of art and poetry and each other is apparent in every thing they do.
This seems to be their mission statement: “Poetry Stew is exactly that; an eclectic mix of poetic flavors from artists of all ages and styles. We have an open mic reading and feature some of the finest poets around. We take art seriously but enjoy providing an environment free from uptight attitudes. Our audiences are extremely supportive of first timers so if you’re an open mic virgin we promise to be gentle. We also welcome musicians and performance artists.”
The basic format is this; come in, sign the sheet, and have a seat. Listen to poetry. When your name is called, you get 5 minutes to read. Halfway through the night, a featured poet or performer will come up and get 20 minutes or so to do their thing. Then it’s back to the list. Truly supportive and gentle- they aren’t kidding about that. I like to grab a cup of coffee and listen to people share their poetry with me in a creative environment surrounded by beautiful art and groovy people. I have brought my Dad, my son, my in-laws. Only my dad was bothered by too many F-bombs. The rest of us have left feeling inspired.
In addition to being artistic supporters, Cat and David are amazing poets in their own right. I recently attended David’s “officially official” book release party for his new chapbook called “Other”. Each book had its own unique collage cover that Cat and David made by hand. Each book a piece of art on its own yet stuffed with stellar poetry inside.
Cat read some original poems on the night of the “officially official” party and she was truly amazing. She is going to be a featured reader at the Coffee Cartel ( 1820 S. Catalina Ave in Redondo Beach) next Tuesday, October 25th when the Redondo Beach Poets group do their weekly reading starting at 8:00 pm. They have a pretty good vibe down at their poetry readings too. I can’t express enough what an amazing talent she is and how wonderful it is to hear her read. Plus, we have matching haircolor so I imagine we are somehow related.
The Art Life Gallery has so much art that they have 2 locations near each other. Good news for them, bad news if you are running late. Poetry Stew meets at 2008-I Park Place in El Segundo Plaza between MAC cosmetics and Marmalade Cafe