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The Sacred Grounds Poetry Circle

The welcome banner above host Jehanah Wedgwood's head reads Since 1974, The Finest Open Mike in the Bay Area -- an impressive claim that the Poetry Circle, Sacred Grounds's Wednesday night poetry event, seems to have pulled off with finesse.

The 20-minute featured poet, who is followed by spoken-word open mic, is usually honored with respectful attention by 25 or more pairs of ears. The audience indulges in soaking up voices, because most of those in the room will eventually get up to contribute, and the energy is reciprocated back. It's all about sharing.

People appear entranced by the readings. When epic poems cast a meditative thrall, even a slurp from a teacup or the sound of turning pages may seem interruptive at times. Wizened Baby Boomers nod, chuckle or exclaim in soft response as they get swept away by imagery. During the break, the café is bustling with serious talk of Rumi's merits and discussion about rhyme schemes and speaking style.

Not surprisingly, there is an air of refinement about the Poetry Circle, even though the café feels like a funky old basement rec room laden with mismatched furniture, knickknacks and pictures. Given its character, comfy atmosphere and relaxed ambience, maybe that's why they call Sacred Grounds a "home away from home." Here and there, a quirky cadence or a surprising connection pops up, even a blues song or three. The sprinkling of Gen-Y poets who drop in to take the mic liven things up with some pizzazz.

Over the years, many a young poet has formed tender memories of the Sacred Grounds as his or her starting point. That's not to take away from any boldness that their elders can amplify; the kids are just more raw, yet tinged with innocence.

It's gratifying to see that the many differences can complement each other. Mutual support and praise go a long way in making that happen, as evidenced by the appreciativeness the circle contains -- they're full of each other, not full of themselves. It is the gift of openness and humor that keeps it together.

In the Sacred Grounds's Poetry Anthology #10, Jehanah herself refers to her own age with a wry grin, describing her hair and teeth as "witch-like." Speaking of which, the Anthologies are available at each Sacred Grounds spoken-word event, or at their website.

The Poets Circle
Sacred Grounds Café
2095 Hayes St. @ Cole, SF, 415.387.3859
Every Wednesday @ 7 pm to 9:30 pm