As a coffee shop hound, some of my favorite haunts around the Cleveland area are the numerous Phoenix Coffee houses. Each locale has its own unique décor and personality, avoiding the cookie-cutter curse of so many corporate franchises. Each locally-owned Phoenix keeps a funky, friendly, and open vibe, attracting musicians, artists, and poets alike.
The Lee Road Phoenix in Cleveland Heights is no exception.
A monthly poetry reading series called Write On! has been running at Lee Road for the past year. Born last summer via the collaboration of Eris Dyson and Courtenay Roberts, the two poets wanted to find “a place for poets to come and read and meet each other…that didn’t have a bar,” says Roberts.
The Phoenix became the logical choice, with Roberts already working as the shop’s manager, and this fourth Saturday series took flight. Initially emceed by Dyson, Write On! recently acquired a new and vibrant host in Erial Ramsey (affectionately called “Air”).
Write On! turns the more common poetry reading format on its head, bringing open mic performers up first and putting the two features in the “headlining” spot at the end of the evening. Due to the family-friendly nature of the Phoenix’s clientele, this is a “moderated” reading—make sure your pieces would pass a PG-rating.
True to that vision stated by Roberts, you’ll find a variety of poets mingling at the Write On! readings. While Gerald Roberts performs impromptu jazz piano in the background, tailoring his style to each poet’s piece and personality, a blend of poetic styles—from hip-hop influence and spoken word to more traditional poetry—fills the room. Air keeps the evening’s momentum going through audience interaction, getting the crowd to echo “Write on!” back to her whenever she says the show’s name.
The show also brings interesting feature-pairings together. June’s show featured Joey Pompignano, a journalism student at Kent State who performs spoken word-style completely off-book, and John Burroughs, best known around Cleveland as the co-host of Lix & Kix. Features for July are still being confirmed, but will undoubtedly be equally exciting.
WHAT: Write On! Poetry Reading Series
WHERE: Phoenix Coffee, 2287 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH
WHEN: Every fourth Saturday, 7pm