Budding poets of Portsmouth still have a place to call home. Open Mic night was started in the early 2000’s by Shawnee State Professor Neil Carpathios.
When asked about his thoughts on the current continuation, he commented “I’m gratified and pleased that the open mic continues to provide a venue for poets to gather and share their work at Port City. Of all art forms, perhaps poetry requires the most effort to bring people together. It is a solitary art, so when poets can actually share their work with others, a beautiful communal experience can happen. Poets (and poetry fans) inspire each other, support each other, take real interest in the written and spoken word. Ian Bush, the current host, has done a wonderful job of continuing this Portsmouth tradition.”
As noted by Carpathios, this artistic tradition has recently landed in the capable hands of Ian Bush, a Scioto County native and editor of the Shawnee Creative Writing publication, The Silhouette.
Bush commented, “We hope to provide a platform for local literary arts, where various people of every walk of life can take communion.”
Under Bush’s direction, a group of twenty or more poets gather monthly to share their work with other community writers.
“Everyone is so kind and accommodating,” said Rhonda Hughes, a self proclaimed regular. “I am not a poet. I write prose. Even worse, I write romance novels. No one is there to hear a passage from a romance, but they have been so encouraging and downright supportive”.
Hughes referenced the growth since Bush’s direction, “Poetry night has grown with leaps and bounds during the past year.”
Writers like Hughes come monthly to share their creative efforts and all types of writing is encouraged. Those who wish to participate can share original work or the work of other writers that resonates with them.
Another regular attendee is Kevin LeMaster who has been around since the event’s beginning.
“I believe that new blood is important. People willing to continue something that is so vitally important to poetry and the community for that matter. Ian stepped up and if it wasn’t for him, it would have not continued,” LeMaster stated.
“Ian is finding his way and is getting more and more comfortable with the job, which is important, said LeMaster about the new direction as led by Bush.
Cory Maillet is the general manager of Port City pub where Open Mic has been hosted since the beginning.
“One of our main goals at Port City is being a supporter of the local arts, including music, theater, and writing. Poetry has played such a large role in Celtic history, it just seemed that hosting a poetry night would be a perfect fit us” Maillet offered.
When asked about the value added to the community by this event he stated, “Some great writers may never showcase their work if they do not feel comfortable. We like to set an intimate atmosphere where they feel welcomed. Even if they don’t read, many people come just to listen. There are not very many places in the area where you can do that.”
With new participants, and old, this ten year tradition seems to be set up for continued success.
“We have had several great hosts and with each new host, comes new ideas and participants. It’s great to see that this event has a life of it’s own, the readers and writers keep it going,” stated Maillet.
With the continued success of the event, Bush and Port City extend an invitation to any writer that may be interested.
Open Mic is currently held on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Chillicothe street entrance of Port City Pub. Those who wish to read their own work are encouraged to come a few minutes early to place themselves on the reading list.