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Thursday, November 12, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Backstage Pass

If You're A Poet And You Know It ...

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

At the heart of each of us lives a poet. Without this internal scribe, we wouldn't have the capacity to enjoy the world's beauty, or appreciate life's finer luxuries like music, dance, colors and scents, food and love.

Yes, within each of us there is a poet. The question is whether he or she is a good poet or a bad poet.

Here at the Pass, we aren't certain about the talents of our inner bard. It could be a descendant of Shakespeare or even Jim Carroll, who visits Seattle Tuesday. But it's probably more closely related to Vern Fonk, the rappin' car-insurance geek. We certainly don't care to find out. Heck, it's hard enough to come up with helpful prose each week without worrying about meter, symbolism and all that other stuff.

But why should our cowardice stop you? Certainly there's a part of each of you that bounces with rhythm and rhyme, waiting to burst out into the world! And you certainly picked the right city to live in; Seattle has a large, supportive community of poets, and with it, a bounty of places for writers to share their work with hungry ears. Herewith is a small list of better-known places to hear poetry from published artists and first-time speakers. You may choose to bring only your ears and an open mind at first, but eventually we hope you'll be drawn in to the poetry vibe.

-- The Globe Cafe and Bakery, 1531 14th Ave., Seattle - Home to two well-known open-mike nights, the Globe brings in a variety of writers, spoken-word artists and musicians to listen to the word according to many. Be sure to sample some of the place's fine vegetarian / vegan fare, too.

Sundays, poets will find Red Sky Poetry Theater taking the stage. For 18 years the group has hosted poetry readings in venues throughout the city; the Globe, one of Red Sky's board members says, is the best place the group has even been in. This Sunday, Red Sky hosts a pair of poets from Tacoma in addition to whatever brave poets may show up to recite. Sign-up for the mike is at 7 p.m., and the reading starts at 7:30 p.m. (Donations accepted.)

Can't come Sundays? Show up Tuesdays, then, for Homeland, another open-mike opportunity. Homeland is reputed to be one of the most well-attended open mikes in Seattle, and the folks at the Globe say that it's also one of the most welcoming. Sign-up is at 7:30 p.m., and the readings begin at 8 p.m.; it's free. For more information, call the Globe at 206-324-8815.

-- Habitat Espresso, 202 Broadway E. - Nervous? Remember to breathe and think of this comfortable environment as a part of your home. Maybe that's why Salon Productions, who hosts Habitat's Monday-night open mike, calls the weekly event the livingroom. Poets are welcome, as are artful ramblers, musicians and listeners (of course). Each night centers on a featured reader. Have heart, you'll get nothing but support from these folks. But if you're naturally jittery, you might want to lay off the coffee before your step to the mike. Sign-up for the open-mike period is 7:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m. Free admission. Information, call 206-329-3087.

-- OK Hotel, 212 Alaskan Way S. - Open-mike sessions are for unveiling and improving your work. But the thick-skinned might choose to move on to Slam territory once they've got their repertoire down. A warning, though: Slam audiences aren't as forgiving as their cafe counterparts. Seattle's Slam pops into the OK Hotel, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3, but for that price the audience can feel free to be a bit more critical. Details, call 206-621-7903. ------------------------------- Got a question for the Backstage Pass? Call Melanie McFarland at 206-464-2256. E-mail: mmcfarland@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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