Scranton poet, Monica Simon, to hold StorySlam at the Other Side in Wilkes-Barre
WILKES-BARRE — Storytelling is not unfamiliar to open mic nights in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but most often stories are told through the artistic guise of a songwriter or a comedian. Rarely do regional artists take the stage in a public forum and express themselves in spoken word. Monica Simon is trying to change that.
Poets of NEPA, a group founded by Simon in October 2015, will host a StorySlam themed “Good Intentions” at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Other Side, 119 South Main St. Storytellers are invited to present a tale about a time when a situation went awry despite approaching it with the best intentions. Stories must be true, and can be humorous or serious.
Simon, a 26-year-old poet from Scranton, said Poets of NEPA was created to provide a forum for fellow writers.
“It’s a website on which local writers, mainly poets, can showcase their work,” Simon said. “I take submissions and update the website, but I also host events if I see an opportunity here and there.”
Simon saw an opportunity for StorySlam based on her experiences performing in the area.
“I’m a poet myself, and I perform a lot at open mics,” Simon said. “As I’ve been doing that, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of other people who write in this area. I feel like there’s a lot of exposure for people who perform musically; there’s a lot of comedians, so I just wanted to create an outlet for people who are into poetry.”
The StorySlam format was something she was exposed to living outside of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Simon said.
“StorySlams are actually pretty popular nation wide,” Simon said. “I used to live in Philadelphia and attend these kind of events all the time, and when I came back I really missed going to them. So I decided to try to start my own here.”
The nature of such an event, Simon explained, provides a opportunity for a variety of stories to be told and for presenters to find common ground.
“What I really like about StorySlams is the stories do have to be true, but also when it comes to the theme, usually the themes are broad enough so you have people telling funny stories and people who are telling serious stories,” Simon said. “You usually get to relate to other people and hear their stories and be like, ‘I know exactly what you’re talking about.’”
Simon hopes that communication and mutual understanding will accompany artistic camaraderie at the event.
“I really hope people are able to relate to each other,” Simon said. “I would really want people to feel comfortable getting up and sharing their story. Even if they’ve never done it before or they’ve done it a hundred times, I want people to be able to go there and laugh sometimes or hear something a little bit more deep that they relate to. I just want to bring people together and help them communicate, because I feel people can relate to each other more than they do on a daily basis.”
Interested writers can sign up at 6:30 p.m. prior to the event at the Other Side. There will be a $5 cover charge for those 18 and older; drink specials for those who are 21 and older. For early registration visit the event page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/1510601955935760/.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter@TLArts.