Packed with poems: Moving readings provide respite

The bustling of the holiday season is in full swing. The usual moral virus has infected many people, forcing them to shop, spend, give, and receive. Nothing new, just the same ol' end of the year whirlwind to which we have unfortunately all become accustomed.

As the days get shorter and colder, the live music scene in Charlottesville dies off a great deal. Some may take this opportunity to spend time at home and reflect on the spirit of season. I'd rather take this time to seek out new and different events occurring around town. This week a little bird told me of an open mic poetry reading being held at the Live Arts lab space.

I have been to poetry readings around town and found most of them to be pretty depressing, so I was interested to see how my friends Tucker and Erin, who are occasional organizers of the events, had decided to make this one different.

Aside from a slight delay because of the late arrival of the jazz ensemble that was scheduled to play, I would have to say that the event was an over-the-top success. Maybe it was the good karma already associated with Live Arts that brought out the best that evening.

The space holds a maximum of 50 people, and every seat was filled. Twenty poets had signed up to read, forcing all the performers to scale down their presentations to one or two pieces. That proved to be a great move because it required the readers to choose their best work.

Whereas most poetry readings are typically forums for the self-indulgent, this time the audience was treated to unique subject matter, wordplay, and thought-provoking imagery. One after the other, the poets came and read-­ some serious, some funny, some quiet, others loud and rambunctious, but never was there a point where I nodded my head and wondered why the hell I was there.

Throughout the evening the jazz ensemble (which consisted of some awesome players) improvised to the works being read. Listening to them reminded me that jazz may be the most adaptable music America's culture has ever created. The music set a mood of comfort in the room. That comfort reached out and embraced every person there.

Reading the last poem of the evening, the reader was in tears ­ the kind of tears that come when something is so beautiful and so real that nothing else can express the feelings better.

The poetry lounge is open for business once a month. See you there next time.