by Dani Cooke
It is 6:50 on a Tuesday night, and a group of idealists and romantics are gathered in a small room on the Hill. Bookshelves stocked with poetry line one wall, next to which exposed brick lines the backdrop for a small stage. Someone in the corner lazily tunes an old guitar; someone else scribbles furiously in a notebook; someone else orders a coffee. Every so often, an individual will approach the sign-up sheet—perhaps hesitating, perhaps standing with the confidence of ten thousand Jack Kerouacs, perhaps already strumming a ukulele—and put down their name.
Innisfree Poetry Cafe, an unassuming icon of Boulder’s creative scene, was founded in 2010—but it’s easy to feel upon entry that it has stood for many decades. As one of three poetry-only bookstores in the United States, Innisfree is a home-away-from-home for a community of artists whose connections extend well beyond their words.
I never expected to seek out stage fright on a weekly basis, but it’s on the Innisfree stage that I’ve come to find myself trembling each Tuesday behind a microphone. The open mic nights are truly that—open—and the lineup includes award-winning poets (Johnny Osi) and idealistic teenage girls (myself) alike. As the night moves on, stand-up comedy blends with ukulele solos between odes and sonnets and slam poems and ramblings and sips of wonderfully cold-brewed chamomile tea.
It is truly a place where people celebrate one another, whether in the overwhelming applause for someone performing for the first time or the echoed announcement of “New sh•t!” being shared. So, whether you’re a poet or an artist or a person in this (crazy, often disheartening) world, take two hours out of your week to hear something beautiful. And, if you’re feeling particularly brave (or particularly timid), get up on stage and try it for yourself.
Innisfree Poetry Cafe & Bookstore hosts open mics every Tuesday from 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm.