Java Cabana Hosts "100,000 Poets for Change Around The World" in Memphis
By Christina Holloway
When one visits Java Cabana, the laid-back coffee shop on Young Ave, they can expect to walk into something completely different from Starbucks or any other chain restaurant.
Java Cabana is locally owned. There are Christmas ornaments, among other things, hanging from the ceiling. There are clothes racks here and there loaded with items for sale. Tables, chairs, and even couches are conveniently placed for one's enjoyment as they sip on their coffee.
Like the stereotype of any coffee shop-- especially one located in the heart of Cooper-Young- Java Cabana is also known for their open mic nights every Thursday night.
However, the poetry night in September was slightly different.
"100,000 Poets for Change Around the World" wasn't just any typical poetry night. It was a night for change. The international event involved 115 countries and 850 different venues.
Each venue hosting the event raised support for an organization of their choice. The event in Memphis accepted donations for Lowenstein House, a rehabilitation house in Memphis.
Corey Mesler, Memphian, has been writing poetry for 42 years. A former journalism student at what was then known as Memphis State, Mesler decided that Creative Writing was his true focus in college.
Mesler, now the owner of Burkes Bookstore- located on Cooper Avenue- was contacted by the person over the event. Mesler then teamed up with the owner of Java Cabana, Mary Burns, and they got to work, each inviting poets to participate.
"Memphis needs stuff like this," Mesler said. "I just don't think we have enough supporters for writers in town."
The event started at 6:30 with a wine and cheese tasting.
Once people got settled and comfortable, the readings started at 7 p.m.
Mesler said that he was very happy to work with Mary, and that Java Cabana seemed to be the perfect place to do the reading.
Mary Burns, owner of Java Cabana, said that she also enjoyed working with Mesler. She hopes that people will open up and come to more open-mic nights in the future.
"I felt very honored working with Corey," she said. He's a wonderful Memphis writer. It was good to have other writers in Memphis participating."
Burns, who has been teaching at Christian Brothers University for eight years, still writes poetry and gains from the open-mic nights that have happened over the years.
"Coming to the open-mic night gives you confidence to speak in front of people," she said. I do think it's important to support some forms of art because art belongs to everybody."