Writing to the Edge: St. Louis Writers Guild Open Mic
by Jenny Beatrice
Where can you give voice to your writing in a supportive community of fellow writers while throwing back a cold one?
The St. Louis Writers Guild hosts such an opportunity at the Writing to the Edge Open Mic, held on the 4th Tuesday of the month at the Schlafly Tap Room on Locust from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (A big shout out to Schalfly for offering the space free of charge, a great show of support to the local writing community).
Emcee Brad Cook, who is also the Writers Guild historian and incoming president, explains, “Writing to the Edge is our edgy open mic–strong language and adult themes are allowed, but we do ask that you write to the edge not beyond it.” Participants are given seven minutes for prose and five minutes for poetry.
The dozen attendees at the most recent session on August 23 were treated to an eclectic mix of genres and styles–a great reflection of the energy and passion of the St. Louis writing community.
Rebecca Wood , the outgoing president of the guild, fed us a dose of political discourse with humor and directness. Her poems speak with fervor about today’s turmoil and her personal perspective on the situation. Josh Brown, a first-time reader, shared two introspective poems, Gentle Tranquility and Anticipation. Jenny Beatrice shared two personal pieces, The Day You Declare, a poem about the pain of bankruptcy and an essay, My Father’s Daughter on her hard-working, ball-busting father.
New to St. Louis and to the Writers Guild, Becky Haigler of Silver Boomer Books read from their latest publication, The Harsh and the Heart, an examination of military life. She shared two powerful essays on grief, written by her niece whose husband joined the army in 2006. Justo Herrara, another contributor to The Harsh and the Heart anthology, read his latest short story of homicide and lust.
Sir E.J. Drury II (aka Butch) pushed the crowd to the edge with a gritty military tale from his book, A Different Kind of Sentinel (www.rivendellbooks.com). Brad Cook shared Clayton, The Little City, his poem that will be printed in the upcoming anthology of the St. Louis Writers Guild in honor of its 90th anniversary.
Friends Nichole Capps, Jennifer Stolzer and Kathlen Kayembe brought their youthful perspectives to the table. Capps shared her poetry, including a poem about a young girl and her fireflies that she is submitting to a Princeton Review Challenge. Stolzer had the group laughing with Life City, her fan-fiction essay on the fantasized ending of the “Final Fantasy” video game series, which, as she says, is “a 10-year-old video game very popular among nerds everywhere.” She also read from the young adult fantasy novel she is working on. Kayembe’s essay on 17th century swordsman Miyamoto Mushashi was born from a writing prompt about “bad-asses.” Another prompt brought her to her latest story, Life is Collateral, about a young man who finds out his neat-freak roommate is actually a werewolf.
The Writers Guild has been hosting open mics for nearly 10 years and Wood sees them as a valuable tool for writers. “It’s a great way to have a deadline – at least you have to write something once or twice a month,” she says. “It’s also a great way to see how people react to your work. lf you think your work is really funny and no one laughs or you think it’s serious and they do laugh—you get feedback and hear what other people are doing. “
In addition to the Writing to the Edge event, the guild hosts a Family-Friendly Open Mic at Highlands Brewing Company in Kirkwood on the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm. “You can pre-register to read, sign up once you’ve arrived, or just come to listen – we always appreciate an audience,” says Cook. Both of the open mics are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.stlwritersguild.org.