Back in January of 2015, while I was wrapped around a mug of extra-strong coffee in Sandino’s Bar in Derry, the bar’s owner (and long-time supporter of local artists), Joe Mulhern, uttered the fateful words:
“Abby, what about a poetry night?”
He wanted a regular event on a Monday night, in the upstairs bar. I wasn’t sure it would work out long term; Monday being an iffy night for coaxing people out of the house for obvious, practical reasons. Besides that, the North-West was getting ‘er tight as a result of the recession; the town was dead, people generally not going out even at weekends. On the other hand, the city was in need of a regular poetry/spoken-word event. The upstairs bar in Sandino’s was undeniably a nice spot for it; a private, intimate space with a seating capacity of 50-60; a lighting rig and good sound set-up, a creative and completely informal vibe.
Practicalities & ‘housekeeping’
Joe and I arranged to meet a week or so down the line to discuss it. Allowing some space between the initial proposal and the meeting itself allowed time to fully consider the requirements. To get it started all I’d need (in a nutshell!) was a poster, a social media event page, a soundman, a host (that’d be me), performers, and an audience. Having been a spoken word performer for almost a decade at that point, I knew a lot of writers who might take part. For a few weeks, life was an anxiety-fuelled orgy of spamming, inviting, reminding.
We agreed on the housekeeping in advance; i.e open-mic performer compliments, payment, and the format of the door take. I’d advise anyone considering starting an event to agree all housekeeping in advance; it makes for a smoother journey, and reduces the risk of misunderstandings between organisers and venue. Then we arranged to give it a go, once a month for three months on a trial basis; an open mic night where the primary focus was on writers and performers. I wanted the ambience of the event to be relaxed, fun yet respectful; in essence a stiff cure for the Monday blues. Such an atmosphere would be central to attracting not only readers and performers, but also new audiences for live literature, and for the writers showcased.
The first event posters were literally cut from magazines and stuck together with Pritt Stick – as well as this being a practical solution to having no design budget, it was a daft romantic nod to the DIY punk tradition; an aesthetic I’ve always loved. It didn’t take long before the appeal of making bespoke posters died; far too time consuming. Luckily, poet Mel Bradley took over the monthly poster design; with the aid of some witchcraft called Photoshop.
The Monday Night Cure was finally born in March of 2015. I had obviously misread the local appetite for such an event. The first Cure saw the venue packed to capacity. It has been consistently well attended each month since, and has gained a respected reputation as a welcoming, nurturing environment; where artists and audiences alike can experience a wide-range of the literary/verbal/performance arts. Today, the event showcases featured artists as well as the open mic. We have brought writers/performers to the North-West such as Temper Mental MsElayneous, Candy Royalle, Gerry Potter, Stephen Murphy, Saida Agostini, and Pushcart Prize nominated poet Teri Cross Davis.
We hold several ‘special events’ throughout the year: the annual ‘Gay Cure’ takes place each August as part of the Foyle Pride festival. ‘A Cure for Severe Burns’ is an annual alternative Burns night; borne of a coming together of The Cure and raconteur Frank Rafferty’s well-established event ‘Severe Burns’. Each Halloween sees our dedicated Curitans get creative with face-paint, costumes, and tales of the darkness at our Samhain special.
All styles of writing and performance are welcome, variety being the spice of all my favourite gigs; poetry, spoken-word, prose, storytelling, comedy, theatre, rap/hip-hop and singer/songwriting. New readers and performers are always encouraged – our dedicated regular audience are a warm, listening, and enthusiastic bunch; ideal if you happen to be taking your first steps up to the mic. Open mic slots are up to 10 minutes per performer in length – just turn up early on the night and sign-up.
Our experienced soundman (as well as lighting designer and stage dresser all-in-one) John O’Neill is always present to make sure your voice sounds peachy, and cameraman Eddie McCourt is present to film anyone who’d like a video of their performance.
If you are a writer/performer, confident in your ability to hold an audience, who would like to be considered for a feature slot at the Monday Night Cure, please email organiser/host Abby Oliveira at abbyospokenword at gmail(dot)com, including links/attachments with examples of your work, as well as any other relevant information (e.g your fee, including travel, or whether or not you are happy to do a door split).
Feature slots are typically 30mins in length; we like to allow ample time for artists to share a wide variety of their work. We also accommodate simple show formats (which may have longer running times); for example, we have showcased stage shows by poets Fergus Costello and Ms.Noir, as well as plays by Fahy Productions and The Cosy Club players (among others). Their stage set up was simple, and had very few tech requirements. These formats work best for us.
We will also consider ‘split slots’ in cases where two or more writers prefer to split a full slot between them.
The Monday Night Cure is held on the last Monday of each month, upstairs in Sandino’s Bar (Water St, Derry). Doors open at 8.30pm. Open mic performers can register from 7.45pm. Entry: by donation.
Organiser/host: Abby Oliveira