When I first landed in the Bay Area about eight years ago, I began looking for an open mic venue to hear local women’s poetry and other spoken word in a woman-only space. While I also enjoy mixed-gender community and identify as bisexual, there is something very special about the safety, visibility, and empowerment available to women in a woman-only context, particularly for feminist women with alternative sexual and gender orientations like myself. I cherish this rare gift!
Fortuitously, I heard about Works in Progress: An Open Mic for Women produced by Linda Zeiser and Carolyn Stuhl. I set an intention to check them out! I discovered that they beautifully co-create a sacred and safe space where women may share their artistic expressions and where they may be seen, heard, loved, honored and celebrated by women peers in woman-centered community. Very powerful indeed! I am moved by love!
Eventually they changed WIP’s location to the Fireside Room, Plymouth United Church of Christ at 424 Monte Vista in Oakland. I began regularly attending. Recently, we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Works In Progress, along with Linda & Carolyn’s wedding!
The evening begins with a delicious potluck and schmoozing from 6:30-7:30, followed by riveting performances until 10:30. The evening’s fabulous entertainment line-up opens with talented Bay Area musicians, such as Suzanne Cimone, Rita Lackey & Friends, and Anna Maria Flechero. The evening typically ends with a jam session and sing-along. Delightfully sandwiched in between the musical expressions, an interlude of amazing writers, poets and artists thrill us with their work. Linda & Carolyn also hold a raffle gifting fun bling.
Zeiser Artist Award: A Legacy
In August, Linda & Carolyn announced their creation of an additional, wonderful legacy to women’s arts in the form of a Zeiser Artist Award. Our featured artists and award recipients include:
Debbie Vinograd, Julia’s sister and fine artist.
Anna Maria Flechero, a song stylist and jazz vocalist known for her texturally stunning and harmonically rich arrangements, heightened by the soul and sophistication of her voice.
Marjorie Lynne Wagner, poet, visual artist and environmental activist who loves wild horses.
December 13th Show
Our December 13th Works In Progress features MK Chavez, the haunting, provocative author of Virgin Eyes, Visitation and Pinnacle. She will read from her Dear Animal, a collection of poetry from an exploration of how the world responds to women and also from The Unanswered Volcano, a semi-autobiographical body of work. This evening MK will be receiving a Zeiser Artist Award.
Anna Maria Flechero will reappear for a holiday encore. Other artists include Clea “Poet Noise” King, Regina Wells, and Monet Brooks.
I’ll be showing a few pieces of my ceramic work and also reading a few short excerpts from my book in progress about women and radical self-care (previously self-published as Love & Marry Yourself Forever in an e-course format and received as a gift by over 1200 women). I’m pleased to announce that I’ll also be honored as a Zeiser Artist Award recipient in December. Yay! I feel hugely grateful for the validation of my artistic work and support from Linda and Carolyn, as well as the women colleagues who attend and share.
To reserve your open mic slot, contact Linda Zeiser at (510) 701-1022 and/or ZeiserpoetMC@aol.com. Admission is $7 – $10 and includes a raffle ticket. Works In Progress is a creative space for women’s art: Poets, Musicians, Comediennes, and Performance Artists. WIP is for adult women only and is a scent-free and wheelchair accessible event. There is off-street parking.
Here’s a sample of the fabulous musical vibrations we are gifted with at Works In Progress — Rita Lackey & Friends: