Local poets find their voices at cafe in Cotati
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By Natalie Gray  August 16, 2013 12:00 am

Every Tuesday, rain or shine, with scheduled readings or cancelations and for a crowd or a sparse collection of ever cheering fans, the Redwood Café in Cotati holds a Poetry Night where professional and amateur writers invited to share their work for the “Redwood After Dark” audience.

Like a poem, no Tuesday night reading is ever the same, and host Christina Perez seems keen to keep the nights that way. Every second Tuesday of the month sees a reading called “The Barn Burners Slam,” a night that, like its title would suggest, expects itself to be a spectacle of fiery, beautiful emotion and imagery. A guest-poet is always invited to share a reading for the audience, and the stage is set for an open-mic competition and where poets are allowed three minutes to read one original poem.

The pride of the Tuesday poetry slams may very well be the “Slamazon.” Though it is a literary, competitive night reserved for women only, anyone who identifies themselves as a woman on stage can compete in Slamazon. Men are, of course, allowed in the audience to enjoy the show.

“We’re very protective of this (night),” said host Perez.

All money collected at the door for the night is returned right away to the contenders in the form of cash prizes. The night’s schedule includes an open-mic session that invites musicians, singers, beat-boxers, comics and poets to the stage to share their work with an attentive, active audience. After the open-mic, the Slamazon sees two rounds of competitive, creative poetry with an invited, nationally recognized poet performing between the rounds. This coming Slamazon, Aug. 27, is to feature work from Denise Jolly. Sign-ups are held at 8:30 p.m.

All Tuesdays between and before the Barn Burners and the Slamazon feature smaller – but just as active – poetry slams and readings from invited guest poets and readers and singers who want to perform behind the open mic.

This past Tuesday saw a small, but energetic crowd to cheer on invited poet Matt Blesse after a sudden cancelation of another guest. Blesse is a young, grinning poet recently back from a two-year stay in Korea. He spoke of and read poetry reflecting his life as being of Korean-decent but raised by a white family, a past of summer-camping, his father and his love of “Star Wars.”

Randy Walder, fresh from surgery, also performed a song on his guitar after Blesse’s performance, and the night ended with an impromptu, much-encouraged reciting from Perez. 

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