Of all of the various open mic poetry readings throughout the New Orleans area, the Sunday afternoon readings in the charming courtyard of Maple Leaf Bar courtesy of Frenchy the artist and another friend of the bar hosted by the devoted Miss Nancy Harris is the running favorite. Because of these wonderful, welcoming meetings of the minds that stand out from the rest, the New Orleans Poetry Festival, a local tour of poets old and new, conducts its grand finale at The Maple Leaf.
Throughout the years many poets, musicians, and authors of prose alike have filled the courtyard to listen to one another’s weekly literary creations. Often, they bring along their friends and return both with and without their initial moral support. This is possible because, as soon as one enters the back area, they know they are in good company. If their friend who “convinced “ them to attend can’t make it next time, they will always have ample fast friends and like minds.
A couple of years ago, Danny Kerwik, a friend to all and amazing poet, as well as the guy bold enough to say what everyone else is thinking was lost to the group.
The loss of Danny took its toll on the entire group, but as always, they were all there to comfort one another and offer a shoulder to cry on if need be. Danny and other members will be missed. Many having moved out of New Orleans to be with family and other far less tragic reasons still remain in spirit.
All sorts have something to say and it is unanimous that it is all well worth hearing. Courtesy of John Travis (editor) and Edgar Sierra (photographer), a periodical is published every few years known as The Maple Leaf Rag, featuring favorite pieces of writing by and images of poetry regulars and those whose schedules are not so generous when it comes to days off. All are loved and appreciated.
John Travis is always willing to assist writers. Along with The Maple Leaf Rag, John assists many of the group’s poets with publication of their work. Many of their books can be found on the shelves of Blue Cypress Books a few doors down from The Maple Leaf.
Retirees such as Mark Marley, who postponed their youthful writing aspirations to support a family, now allow their kids to return the favor, making the poetry readings also a wonderful family affair.
New friendships form all of the time and old ones flourish all of the time in this very familial utopia if you will. No matter how alone one may feel, that will change the moment that he/ she enters the welcoming arms of the Maple Leaf poetry crowd!
All of the attendees have such unique, creative voices and minds. Rather than ask them to talk about their brilliant work, why not check out some samples of this truly worthwhile experience? I firmly believe everyone should give a try.
New Orleans locals, mark your calendars for almost every Sunday afternoon (around 3:30), and there will be a seat waiting for you in the courtyard of The Maple Leaf Bar.
Photographs Courtesy of Edgar Sierra, Ryan Armstrong, and Mark Marley. Video courtesy of Mark Marley.