Poets, storytellers and comedians — lend them your ears.
Folks of all ages who are fans of the spoken word will be welcomed to Blue Duck Bakery & Cafe in downtown Riverhead Sunday to participate in Poetry Street — a summer series of open mic sessions.
Poet and community advocate Robert “Bubbie” Brown of Riverside will be the kickoff’s featured artist.
“It really makes me feel good,” Mr. Brown said of his involvement with the new series. “We’re inviting any poets, writers, skits — whatever. Show up.”
Mr. Brown has recited his poetry in East End coffee shops and at First Baptist Church of Riverhead, where he’s a member. He’s also visited Long Island high schools to teach students about poetry and has judged several student essay contests, including this year’s Juneteenth Day celebration, which he said received 134 entries, a record high. The annual event commemorates the day slavery was ended in the United States in 1865.
Juneteeth is also the theme for Sunday’s open mic session.
Mr. Brown said it’s great opportunity for students to share their work with an audience.
“There are so many capable writers here,” he said. “These kids are incredible.”
Poetry Street’s creator, Susan Dingle of Southold Town’s Anti-Bias Task Force, said she developed the event through her involvement with East End Arts’ JumpstART program, which aims to revitalize downtown Riverhead with creative partnerships between artists and local businesses.
Ms. Dingle said she approached Mr. Brown and Blue Duck with her idea for open mic series because she’s felt a need for it since the EastEnders coffee shop closed.
“To me, it’s such a wonderful thing to come and share poetry and stories,” she said. “I’m such a fan of Riverhead and love how so many different communities come together, but I always felt their voices weren’t heard.
“Poetry Street is where every voice is heard,” she said.
Ms. Dingle, a poet herself, said finding venues that don’t sell alcohol is the key to attracting youths and their families.
Blue Duck owner Nancy Kouris said she’s excited about hosting Sunday’s open mic session — a first for her business, which has four East End locations.
Ms. Kouris said she’s interested in continuing open mic sessions through September and described the idea as a “win-win” for downtown and the community.
“It will bring a different flavor you can’t get on Route 58,” she said. “It will be relaxed and comfortable for everyone — young and old.”
Signup for Sunday’s open mic session starts at 1:30 p.m. The event runs from 2 to 4 p.m. The first 15 poets and writers to sign up at the event will have three minutes each to share original poetry, stories or stand-up routines.