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Sips serves poetry in Mt. Vernon

Mark Hersman emceeing his reading at Sips.
Mark Hersman emceeing his reading at Sips.
Photo courtesy of Mark Hersman.

Even if you’ve never been to Mt. Vernon, you’ll likely feel as if you’re coming home on your first visit.

“Quaint” is the first word that comes to mind—and only in the best of ways—as you drive through the downtown area, filled with tiny, locally-owned shops and restaurants. And on the fourth Tuesday of the month, one little coffee shop becomes a bustling intersection for lovers of the poetic word.

Sips plays host to a monthly reading, founded and emceed by the president of the Ohio Poetry Association, Mark Hersman.

This homey gathering place in central Ohio not only offers a selection of coffees, teas, sandwiches, bakery and other café standbys, but is also an ideal spot for café performances and poetry readings. With a separating wall that keeps the kitchen noise away from the main dining/sitting area, poets need not worry about shouting over the cappuccino machine or the chatter behind the counter. And the bright yellow walls, comfy couches, and unique quirks—like the antique sewing machine table that serves as a podium—can’t help but make performers and audience alike feel at home.

Known among friends as “Indiana Jones” for his archaeology work in central Ohio, Hersman hosts two regular coffee house readings each month, at Sips and also a first Friday reading at Pumpkin Hollow in Bellville. Hersman weaves between tables before the readings and during intermission, greeting friends, welcoming unfamiliar faces, and introducing artists to each other when he discovers common ground. He’s also developed a format for his readings that incorporates a musical feature into each evening: music-features-music intermission-open mic.

And it seems to be working. By the time the show starts in the early evening, the café fills with attentive audience members who come to hear poetry—on purpose! And in addition to poetry, musicians are also welcome to perform a song during the open mic session.

June’s featured musicians will be Sarah Gosleereed and Yvonne Sanson, and the featured poets will be Nancy Nixon, Scott Mooney, and Sharon Mooney.

WHAT: Poetry and open mic hosted by Mark Hersman
WHEN: fourth Tuesdays, next on June 22, starts at 6:30pm
WHERE: Sips Coffee House, 101 S. Main Street, Mt. Vernon, OH


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