It started off as an ordinary night in Tel Aviv: pleasant night time weather, people walking on the streets with umbrellas under their arms, uncertain of the possibility of another winter storm. Yet all that changed when I walked through the door of Coffee Print (31 Bograshov) on Sunday, February 25th to begin the first of a poetry open mic series in Tel Aviv. Nervous with anxiety, wondering who would actually show up amongst the promised performers, as well as who would arrive early, on Anglo time, on Israeli time, or not at all, I rushed to set up and greet the performers and audience members.
With hip-hop playing in the background to set the tone of the evening, poets, musicians and observers slowly came in and got acquainted with the venue, not sure what to expect from the evening. Half past nine and it was time to start. After an introduction welcoming everyone, I opened the mic with a poem from Saul Williams, a famous slam poet, to expose the audience to what I miss from my native New York. "If I could find the spot where truth echoes I would stand there and whisper memories of my children's future..."
Faces, new and familiar, continued to join us and quench their curiosity of what poetry can be in Tel Aviv.
Privileged to have been connected with so many people who are new and not so new to the literary scene in Tel Aviv, poets graced the stage including Zvi Bar, Israeli poet Debbie Saar, *Mark L. Levinson, Moshe Davis who came all the way from Arad, Ronald Klein who came in from Jerusalem, Natasha - a former student of Tel Aviv University's Professor Karen Alkalay-Gut, Asher Gelman and his visiting friend Victoria Jacobs, and myself.
Mixing up the evening with some musical performances were my co-coordinator David Wolff on guitar, Victoria Jacobs for another chance at the mic, and pianist Ron Wiseman.
Something tells me that my nerves were mainly detected by me, because after the close of our evening everyone, including the owner of Coffee Print, seemed very pleased with the first open mic and were ready to start gearing up for the next.
*Mark L. Levinson writes a column on this site entitled "The Why of Style." He also chairs the monthly Tel Aviv meetings of the Voices Israel Group of Poets in English, which are held at Beit Tami on Sheinkin Street. Anyone interested in further details about those meetings can contact Mark at ]]>.
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