With a mixture of sadness and joy, we announce that NorthEndForum is ending its run at the Bai Pai Lounge.
Here is a letter from Jed explaining how this came to pass:
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
I learned this past Monday night that Jack had decided we must not meet there any longer, as the numbers of those who congregate for the open mic night are down, and he would do better leaving the space open to his regular customers. That’s business, isn’t it?
The first NorthEndForum in the lounge at Bai Pai occurred on 6/6/06, yes, more than 9 years ago. It didn’t have the name yet—that came along soon after. Owner/chef Jack and I had become quite friendly, as I’d spent many hours in the lounge there since the place had opened some months before. He asked me to join in with another of his friends to get a poetry-and-music night going, and so began this community adventure, initially every Monday night, and it remained a weekly event for years. In those early days, Jack supplied food and drink for the organizers, and he put out beautiful buffet platters for all who came! That lasted a good while, but as the NorthEndForum crowd grew into a reliably packed house, he let folks buy what they would, and reaped a considerable harvest on our communal interest in gathering there for our music and poetry.
Things morphed along the way, as things do, and for a good stretch we had most of our gatherings up the street at Casa D’Italia (all because one bartender at Bai Pai was having a difficult time of handling the weekly onslaught and chaos). We always continued with first Mondays at Bai Pai, and in recent years we said farewell to Casa and resumed with twice a month at Bai Pai.
One of the wonderful developments to come out of this evolving phenomenon was the birth of Easy Speak, of which NorthEndForum was the birthing bed. Peter Munro hosts the marvelous Easy Speak gathering on 2nd Mondays at the Wedgwood Alehouse, and T. Clear oversees (while James Yarwood hosts) the Easy Speak at the Hummingbird Saloon in Columbia City on 4th Mondays. So while things sure do change, they sure don’t end!
In recent months, it’s true, the numbers of people who’d come to NorthEndForum came down, and I’m sure it was for all kinds of reasons. One really good reason, I believe, was that there is the monthly gathering in Wedgwood, close nearby for easy “North End” access, in a great comfy open space where there is no “competition” with other paying customers—the back room is “all ours”—and so, many have come to participate there on a regular basis, as it makes for a splendid alternative to the tight and tumultuous quarters of Bai Pai’s lounge.
So, while there is this natural sadness upon saying goodbye to a lovely stretch of meaningful good times, there is a very sweet continuity to celebrate. Easy Speak lives!
I will remain deeply grateful to all who have lent their spirits to NorthEndForum, glad as well to know that many have found inspiration there. Some who’ve come have become dear to others who’ve come, lives have changed, portals of vital expression have opened….
I myself have found incomparable encouragement of my own creative expression in these gatherings. The thoughtful listening so reliably offered has allowed me to hear myself so much better! I will carry this encouragement, and this internalized listening, forth in my ongoing literary and musical explorations.
I wish to mention as well my nostalgia for the no-sign-up days, when friends “fought” affectionately for their places in the unstructured line-up. I want also to note my ongoing amazement at the power and quality of so much of what was given voice in the cradling context of NorthEndForum—with no “featured guests” and no billing of “name” presenters, we welcomed many whose artful work was being lauded beyond Bai Pai’s walls, in journals and on stages far and wide! We had the honor to offer a local cozy space to many whose creative work is becoming part of the lasting body of literature born in our region.
Thanks flows from my core for the wonderful opportunity that our community for so long offered to me, to welcome and host and enjoy the humble bravery in evidence when any one of us stands before the rest and sets free a poem, a song, a prayer or a vision, in one’s own voice.
Let’s be in touch,