Arts and Entertainment

Fourth Fridays: Writers, words and a good cup of coffee

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Some peninsula artists unveil their latest work during a First Friday Art Walk, when the streets of downtown Sequim are crowded with strolling pedestrians enjoying venues filled with paintings, sculpture, photography and more.

 

Other peninsula artists reveal their latest works of art — poems, short stories, essays and more — on Fourth Friday.

 

One evening a month, a crowd of writers and appreciative listeners jams into the Rainshadow Coffee Bar for an hour or two of the spoken word, with each piece read by its author.

 

The eclecticism and talent that enlivens every First Friday Art Walk is also on display during the Fourth Friday readings: the peninsula's writers are simply amazing.

 

The Fourth Friday Readings are the brainchild of the Writers on the Spit, a small but energetic group of peninsula writers. Ruth Marcus, a member of Writers on the Spit, said hosting the readings was a "collective idea." Member Jim Fisher first hosted an open mic night, and then Marcus suggested perhaps a featured writer should open the event, followed by ordinary folk with something to say.

 

That's now the program for each of the events, with volunteer writers chosen by a drawing enjoying five minutes to do their thing.

 

The result is a roller coaster, with moving pieces followed by hilarious ones, and both followed by enthusiastic applause.

 

One measure of their success: no one in the crowded room is ever found peering into their smartphone.

 

The writers/readers include Craig Andrews, who started writing as a teen, and has since produced a large stock of short stories, essays and a novel. He's 70 now and has a good deal of life experience to turn to for inspiration, including long stints as a mental health worker and as a bartender. "I'm really pleased and grateful they put this together," he said.

 

During the Nov. 22 meeting, Andrews provided the crowd with "three poems and a parable," and received a nice ovation in appreciation.

 

Like Andrews, Janet Jean Johnson has been a writer her entire life, and "seriously since 1983." She has self-published two books, but for Fourth Fridays she always turns to her memoir-in-progress, which is now 29 chapters long and going strong. "I'm hoping to get it out next year," she said.

 


The opening act

Every reading begins with a "featured writer" — a successful author who reads from a recent work or two and also provides some aspirational "oomph" to the less accomplished in attendance.

 

This October, for example, Patrick Loafman, author, poet, wildlife biologist and musician from Joyce, read from his newest novel, "Somewhere Upriver."

 

April featured peninsula poet Alice Derry reading from her fourth collection of poems, “Tremolo."

 

On Nov. 21, the opening act belonged to "The Last Wednesday Poets," a local group that meets to read and critique each other's work. They meet (you guessed it) on the last Wednesday of each month. Poets include Marcus, Gene Bradbury, Howard Chadwick, Judith Duncan, Jim Fisher, Mary Jill Klay, George Lindamood and Terry Moore. Each read from the group's recently published book, “Last Wednesday: A Pacific Northwest Anthology of Poetry."

 

Marcus is enthused about the new project, saying, "Some members have been publishing for years and for others it is a new experience."

 

The Last Wednesday Poets also hope to inspire others to form writing groups and self-publish. Their book is an example of "the creative efforts that come from a group of writers who have become friends," Marcus said. (Copies are available at Pacific Mist Books in Sequim.)

 

The Fourth Friday events are free, but it's considered good form to buy a steaming cup of joe from Rainshadow owner Don Batcheller.

 

Readings begin at 6:30 p.m., but the doors open at 6 p.m., providing an opportunity to grab a good seat. Because of the holidays, no reading will be held in December. They begin again Jan. 24.

 

Interested in reading your own work? Drop a line to rmarcus@olypen.com for the guidelines.

The Rainshadow Coffee Bar is at 157 W. Cedar St.

 

 
Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

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