By Chloe Davis, SFR Intern
Warehouse 21 Open Mic Poetry Night
1614 Paseo de Peralta
A life can be changed by a small occurrence or a large event. The weekly poetry readings at Warehouse 21
, which started summer of 2008, in terms of size are somewhere in-between, but no less life-changing for many of Santa Fe's youth. The poetry readings used to get up to 100 people per week, but lately have been suffering from a lack of interest and inspiration. With any luck, one day soon, with the leadership of Warehouse 21's youth organizers, they will be able to reach as many people as they did in the early days of the event.
The Warehouse 21 open mic poetry nights were started almost two years ago by three Santa Fe teens: Joey (whose last name remains a mystery), Mike Gore and Joshua Keeler. The three started the event for their peers, but not at Warehouse 21. They were held every Sunday night in Cathedral Park and, at first, would consist only of four or five teens, some reading and some simply listening. Soon, however, people walking past could no longer ignore the kids yelling poetry at the top of their lungs (or presenting strange Pac Man-related performance art, as depicted in the above image), before long there were 20 or more people flooding the park once a week to listen to the talents of Santa Fe's youth. There was often a PA system brought to avoid the screaming. Soon enough the readings incorporated music as well.
In November of 2008, the poetry readings moved indoors to Warehouse 21 and picked up in professionalism. As a result of the move, the readings “have less community interest than they did when they were in the park,” Gabe Rymah, 17, who is currently running the poetry readings, tells SFR.
As for the effect of the change in location on the event, Keeler says, “In terms of the attendees, [W21 is]; worse, in terms of where it is, better. [Warehouse 21] is a place to keep us warm, though, and a constant venue for the readings.”
The event is still run by local teens with minimal help from any adult planners, though occasionally there will be an adult performer who wishes to read poetry. The atmosphere, for both first-timers and those who suffer from stage fright, is welcoming and safe. “The first time I read I felt like I had and outlet, and the whole world would be more beautiful if everyone could feel that way once in their life,” Rymah says. Everyone there has had a first time, so they all understand the nerves associated with reading in front of people for the first time.
The future of the poetry readings is unclear at this point in time, but it is clear that something must change because attendance has dropped significantly in the last year.
“We need to advertise like fucking crazy,” Keeler says passionately. “If it were possible [to change the day they are held on] it would really help it, but the days that it would be better there are too many other things going on. I really think that they should be monthly or tri-weekly.Once every week is too often; it does not give poets enough time to gather more to their repertoire. Even biweekly would be too often.”
Keeler is the only of the original founders that has stayed in town. Gore moved to Denver, and Joey disappeared hastily three months ago, leaving no way to get in contact with him and no clues as to where he went. Joey was an inspiration to many of the people who now read their poetry regularly at the Wednesday night readings, which themselves also inspire many.
“ I feel like [without the open mics] I would not be doing what I am doing now. They opened up my mind to a world of possibilities," Keeler says. "When I started helping with them, my work was mediocre at its greatest. However, since they have been happening, I have realized that I like myself. I feel like I could inspire other people and make then get down. They made me want to go to college for creative writing and become an English teacher. It's changed my outlook on life.”
It has been made clear that while the poetry readings may be hitting a low, they have still changed lives and opened eyes and will continue to no matter where they are held or on what day.