Sitting among an eclectic assortment of art while listening to poets reading from their chapbooks is the atmosphere that founder Jonie McIntire desired for Art & Soul. Founded in July 2017, the once-a-month event has featured accomplished poets from Toledo, Detroit and Columbus. The unique venue provides an intimate setting where poets are treated as true performers and audience members enjoy a night of enrichment.
Poetry’s New Space
Art & Soul became a new addition to Cricket West last summer. A local gallery, full of art available for purchase, McIntire, a local writer, noticed the new neighborhood addition and saw an opportunity. “The idea behind this series was to combine literary arts with visual arts in a collaboration,” she said.
The owners of Art & Soul loved the idea of hosting events and now the series has grown to attract 20 or more people each month. Attending the February reading, surrounded by art in various forms as the poets read, the visual stimulation acted as eye-candy while listening intently to the words.
The Performance Aspect
Heading out on Friday night, in search of entertainment, most likely leads to a concert, a movie or a play. A goal of the Art & Soul series is to treat poetry readings like true performances. “What differentiates this event is that it is not an open-mic. We want it to be a nice, intimate setting, where poets get 30 minutes each and it feels like you’ve gone to a show,” McIntire said.
Justin Longacre (Toledo’s Best Literary Artist by Toledo City Paper readers), remarked on the welcoming nature of the space and its benefits for readers and audience members: “The environment is very conducive to listening as people are there specifically for the reading. The two-poet format also invites connections and juxtapositions, which makes for unique performances.”
Get Your Fix
For lovers of poetry, Art & Soul is a great addition to the Toledo landscape. As well, other events are scheduled regularly which contribute to the breadth of the local literary community. McIntire has had a hand in creating other series’, like the Uncloistered Series, which occurs on the second Sunday of every month at Calvino’s restaurant.
“The Uncloistered Series features four or five poets and then transitions to an open-mic night,” she said. This series regularly attracts 40 or so people and has featured poets from other parts of Ohio, as well as Michigan, Georgia and Texas. “In order for Toledo to become a destination for artists, they have to know that it’s a place that welcomes them, where they’ll have an audience,” McIntire said. With Uncloistered and now Art & Soul, Toledo may be on track to becoming a literary destination.
Next Reading: 6pm | Friday, March 30
Art & Soul Toledo
3142 Markway Rd. (Cricket West Shopping Center)
This event is free.