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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Words, words, words


    Courtesy of Chelsea Gleisner

    The audience in the back courtyard of Café Passe at open mic night on Feb. 22. Every fourth Sunday each month, the cafe hosts a poetry slam called “Words on the Avenue.”

    Every last Sunday of the month, Café Passe hosts “Words on the Avenue,” an open mic night showcasing some of Tucson’s professional and amateur authors, poets and musicians.

    Finding its start in 2012, “Words on the Avenue” works to create a safe and inviting space for all creatively inclined people eager to share their art.

    “I really wanted to create a space that housed all writing forms at once, and an open mic dedicated to words,” said Teré Fowler-Chapman, founder of “Words on the Avenue.” “A place where people could feel heard and confident on stage.”

    Initially known as “Poetry on the Avenue,” “Words” was a concept born without a venue. With the aid of Arizona native and poet Logan Phillips, in coordination with the Ocotillo Poetry Slam, Fowler began the realization of her vision. By late 2012, “Poetry on the Avenue” grew into the more inclusive “Words” and an integral part of Fourth Avenue culture.

    “The first year, we were really getting off the ground, so not a lot of people attended,” Fowler said. “I decided to take the summer off and really work on the brand. When August rolled around, I brought my friend DJ Roch on board and began to bring featured poets [to the event].”

    “Words on the Avenue” provides a space for featured and amateur performers alike to showcase their work. While the mic is open to any all who wish to sign up, the stage also offers a paid venue to local featured artists.

    “‘Words on the Avenue’ is a product of its environment,” Fowler said. “It is your bartender at Bumsteds now serving you similes, or your professor from school tearing up the stage along side of you as equal, or an 11-year-old short story writer planting stories on microphones for the first time. It is your nurse with a glass of wine on her only day off, snapping and letting your words ease her. It is the founder of your favorite clothing line pulling out his notebook. It is packed with the people that keep Fourth Avenue alive.”

    Combining the warm ambiance of Café Passe, good food and drink and performers of all walks, “Words” is an event unlike any other, according to Katrina Bakken, barista at Café Passe.

    “We love hosting all the poets, and all the people expressing their creativity,” Bakken said. “We like that we can be a hub for that. The open mic attracts all sorts of people, and it’s really amazing to experience that. There really aren’t many venues that host this sort of event.”

    Pulling a crowd of anywhere from 40-60 audience members per show, “Words on the Avenue” proudly hosts nearly 20 performers on peak nights.

    “There are local favorites that the audience loves to see come back,” Fowler said. “Some are so well liked they end up getting a featured spot and getting a paid gig. The ‘Words on the Avenue’ community is largely made up of the unconditional audience that just comes to listen. There is something really magical about people deciding to spend the Sunday with us and take the part of hearing and settling in our words.”

    Since the shows aren’t geared toward any particular genre or art form, Café Passe’s stage is consistently packed with a unique variety of performers every month. Appealing to all sorts, Café Passe provides an environment for all ages to gather and express themselves.

    “I think that we’ve hosted pretty much all ages,” Bakken said. “We attract a large variety of performers. This isn’t an event catered to just alcohol; this is an event welcome to all ages. It brings in such beautiful people — all different types. It always brings in such an amazing energy, with such awesome people.”

    This Sunday, Café Passe will again host “Words on the Avenue.” Sign up begins at 6:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m., the open mic officially kicks off. Authors of short stories, poetry, journals, spoken word and more are welcome.

    “Someone just walking in could expect a welcoming ambience, soulful hip-hop pouring out of the speakers, smiling faces, an open mic that has a little something for everybody,” Fowler said. “They can walk away knowing they have laughed. They have been inspired and introduced to something new.”


    Follow Elise McClain on Twitter.

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