Issaquah Arts Commission’s open mic night celebrates written word

February 28, 2012

By Tom Corrigan

Nancy Talley, a Providence Point resident, reads one of her poems at the Issaquah Brewhouse. By Greg Farrar

A flier for the evening promised “poetry, prose and other ponderings.”

Open mic nights of the Issaquah Arts Commission are the third Tuesday of each month at the Issaquah Brewhouse on Sunset Way.

The evenings are now dubbed “Poetry and Prose on Tap.”

“We had a lot of fun and a lot of people,” Joan Probala, commission chairwoman, said of the open mic events that were formerly held at Vino Bella.

She noted the open mic events are for writers of every stripe and skill level.

For this night, the second event at the Brewhouse, there were about a dozen people and some competition for attention. The same night as the open mic event, the Brewhouse hosted a meet and greet with a Rogue Ale brewmaster. Still, those involved with the open mic night didn’t seem overly bothered by the loud atmosphere or the AC/DC music pouring out of the bar’s speakers.

“I’m happy to see people stroll in,” Probala said.

While she is not a writer herself, she appreciates the craft and likes the open forum.

“Poems come alive when the people who wrote them read them,” Probala said.

The emcee for the evening identified himself as Scoop Cox, another member of the Arts Commission, who said he had a couple of poems published back in the 1960s. His payment was, he added, about enough to cover the postage involved. It was Cox who noted the first brewhouse open mic night drew plenty of visitors even though it took place the same night of the big snowstorm that blasted the area last month.

If you go

Poetry & Prose on Tap

  • 7-8 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month
  • Issaquah Brewhouse, 35 W. Sunset Way
  • Free and open to the public

Seemingly dominated by retired teachers, one table of guests probably provided most of the night’s original poetry. Up first was Chuck Blondino’s “Chicken Coup Breezes.” The poem made the point that not even bleach can clean up some of life’s aromas. Nancy Talley’s first offering was “A Terrible Thing to Say to a Child.”

Anchored by a repeated refrain of “3 or 4 or 5,” the poem seemed a humorous reflection on what it really means to be at a young age.

Turns at the mic by Fred Hopkins, a local attorney and member of the Arts Commission, were part stand-up comedy act. Suneeta Eisenberg was the youngest poet to read for the gathering. She started writing, she said, as a junior at Skyline High School in 2000.

Besides being the youngest poet, Eisenberg had easily the most unusual story behind her appearance. Eisenberg read an announcement about the evening in The Issaquah Press. She perused the paper on her recent plane flight back from Iceland, where she had gone on vacation.

For his part, emcee Cox read a few poems and tried to give away a brewhouse T-shirt to the first person to correctly guess the name of a poem or poet based on a few lines of a piece. At one point, he threw out a line from Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Talley eventually won the shirt by identifying Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee.”

LeRoy and Marilyn LaCelle attended the evening strictly as observers, just as they said they had done at the Vino Bella events. There is something inspiring about what she called the joy of life evident in many poems and poets, Marilyn said.

“Hopefully, it’ll grow into what it was before,” said LeRoy, also a member of the Arts Commission.

For the future, Probala talked about possibly putting some of the original poems read at mic nights together into a book. On a totally different front, she and Hopkins said the Arts Commission is planning its first Issaquah film festival to be held at Village Theatre. All the details aren’t worked out, Hopkins said, but he envisions a festival of musicals spread over a weekend, with a main attraction, possibly “The Sound of Music,” wrapping up the festival.

Go to and look for the Arts Commission under “boards and commissions” for general information. For a schedule of events, go to and click on “arts and culture” in the drop down menu.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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