If you've never stepped foot into Cyrus Chai & Coffee , located in New York at the Bay Shore train station, please immediately get in your car, and find your way there. This blog entry isn't going anywhere.
If you've never stepped foot into Cyrus Chai & Coffee at 7pm on the second Saturday of the month, stop what you're doing and put the next date in your calendar. It's literally the second Saturday of every . single. month. I can't wait to see you there.
June will mark the 3rd year anniversary of one of the most raw, vulnerable, passionate open-mics you may very well find anywhere, but for certain, in Suffolk County. Paired with the magnificent brewed-by-the-cup, handcrafted coffee that will keep you up way past your bedtime, Second Saturdays @ Cyrus is an experience nearly indescribable.
Save for the occasional guitar or pair of bongos (both of which are very well received, and adored!) the favoured media of artistic expression at this venue comes in the form of word. Though sometimes whispered, often choked through tears, and once in awhile belted loud enough for somebody to hear from the bar next door, the voices that ring the walls of this small but mighty coffee shop are powerful. The people who share those words are powerful. The community is powerful.
With as few as 30 sipping handcrafted coffee and as many as 85 crammed standing room only, body to body, ass to elbow, this monthly display of talent hosts people from Montauk to Manhattan. Featured readers have included women and men moving you to tears through laughter or sharing their pain, visitors from other countries, high school young adults, seasoned professionals, published authors, and this coming September, myself.
The mic-list of 25 blank spaces fills nearly immediately with those looking to share words that are sometimes years old, and other times scrawled on paper just before their name is called. First time readers and veteran open-mic warriors all share the same stage and get the same attention. You can hear pins drop and hair stand on edge as their lips speak of loss, love, sexism, survival, discrimination and poverty, the ugly, the beautiful, the path of overcoming obstacles, struggling through them, maybe even losing to them, for the first or hundredth time. You can arrive knowing nobody, and leave feeling just the opposite. To read each month in a place full of strangers-become-family has been surreal. To open the deepest depths of myself to a microphone in front of human beings ranging from those I have never met, to those I break bread with, and even the one with whom I share my bed, is always a risk, but always worth it.
As hosts Terri Muuss and Matthew Pasca always say, you will never go to your grave wishing you had read at less open-mics and the year of 2018 has pushed me to do as much as I can to be uncomfortable, because discomfort is the way to growth. I have only been reading since January but I have been writing most of my life; I am grateful for spaces like Cyrus Chai, and souls such as those who attend Second-Saturdays either as featured readers, open mic-ers, or vulnerable hearts with open ears.
Attached is a video of the piece I read last night, what you cannot see is the other 50 people in the room on either side- I have never felt so at home in a sea of faces. I hope that you'll come see me when I feature in September but more importantly, I encourage you to join us every month for a moving, raw, united and gratifying collaboration of passion and art.