It’s Lit: First Mondays @ Troubadour
You would be hard pressed in this literary community to find someone who wasn’t involved in several different projects, and David Bayliss is no exception. After successfully launching and managing the monthly reading series Poets & Pints, Bayliss was approached by his friends at Troubadour Wine Bar - owner Phineas Fittipaldi and former bartender Adrian Lopez-Balbontin - to start a reading series at their venue. Bayliss was interested, but he knew that he wanted to do something a little different, “I didn’t just want to repeat exactly what we had [at Poets & Pints].”
“There weren’t any readings that seemed to let one writer totally stretch out, or to show [other] bits of their craft, not just reading. So that’s what the idea is.” First Mondays @ Troubadour, which premiered in May 2016, allows a single featured reader about 20-30 minutes to share their work and their craft. Following is an open mic segment, where readers get about five minutes each.
Though Bayliss’s focus with First Mondays isn’t strictly experimental, he is interested in showcasing writers who take “different approaches” and work that offers the audience “another way of thinking about poetry.” In January, this approach included a four speaker system surrounding the audience. Poet Dave Stein’s mic was connected to one speaker, while the other three played pre-recorded music and words for a multi-layered experience. In February, Mike Finley and Danny Klecko put on a “tag team” performance.
When I asked Bayliss what he thought the importance of literature was, our conversation once again turned to the idea of community, “Art is an attempt at communication. And being human requires that we live with each other and communicate with each other. That we create community.” When I asked if our local literary community was missing anything, Bayliss quickly acknowledged that “We have a huge gap between writing communities of color and the white writing community.”
“The thing I really like with what we’ve been doing with our poetry scene here is that we do have this kind of collective audience, or community, that’s been formed around this." However, he admitted, the collective audience that has been built is primarily white. "And there are amazing artists of color that we’re not experiencing.” Bayliss continued to say that while some curators are working to book a more diverse roster of readers, the real challenge is in gathering and supporting a more diverse and inclusive audience.
First Mondays @ Troubadour takes place on (you guessed it) the first Monday of each month. In the coming months, Bayliss is looking forward to featuring Lisa Marie Brimmer, who’s “always interesting in what she does and how she approaches material,” and Nora Parker Cox, who recently published “an amazing chapbook called Silence.” Join the Poets & Pints Facebook group for reading announcements and more information.
And tune in next week as I sit down with Stanley Kusunoki to talk about his new reading series, Bridges, and how he hopes to use literature to bridge the cultural and generational gaps in our community.
David Bayliss is a poet and musician who resides in South Minneapolis. He curates several regular monthly poetry series throughout Minneapolis, including Poets & Pints. His work can be found in Nice Cage, Autoanatta, Red Bird Chapbooks online publication, and the Martin Lake Review. He works exclusively in the medium of poetry as he has a very short attention span, even for his own work.
Sara Krassin is a Minneapolis based poet, editor, and bibliophile. She currently serves as Poetry Contest Editor for the Water~Stone Review, reads submissions for Jellyfish Highway Press, and interns at The Loft Literary Center in Marketing & Communications. Her poems have appeared in Third Point Press, Artemis Journal, and The Sand Canyon Review. Find her at @MsKrassin.