Black Kite Coffee Shop offers a voice to the Old West EndWritten by John Dorsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The year is 2003 and I am driving down Collingwood Boulevard. with a friend who tells me that the Old West End is her favorite part of Toledo. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was destined to become my favorite as well.
Since that time I have seen countless businesses occupy the corner of Collingwood and Delaware, starting with Pumpernickel’s Deli, followed by a rapid succession of well-intentioned but ultimately short-lived dining establishments. Despite all of the beauty that the Old West End has to offer, it could use a shot of economic vitality. It’s more than that though; it could really use a little hope, a reason to get up in the morning.
Who couldn’t, right?
A little while ago I started noticing signs for a new coffee shop at 2499 Collingwood Blvd. I have to be honest, my first thought was that it would never last, but after seeing the way the neighborhood has embraced Black Kite Coffee, my natural cynicism has started to fade and I’m hoping now that I was dead wrong.
Black Kite is the sort of hip urban coffee shop I might have hung out in during my college years in Philadelphia, only it is more inviting and definitely more affordable. My first thought walking inside was, “Man, this air conditioning is fantastic!” followed by, “This place would be a really great venue for a regular poetry reading.” Only I didn’t want to be the one to have to organize it, so I mentioned something about it to Michael Grover, who was my co-host at the Collingwood Arts Center’s long-running Tuesday night open mic series. Grover has taken that thought and made it a reality.
Grover is the perfect man for the job. Toledo’s poetry community, like so many others, cycles in waves. Sometimes there are a lot of readings, sometimes a few, sometimes they are well attended and sometimes they’re not.
It takes a special person to be able to ride out the bad with the good, the exciting times with the downright sluggish. Grover is that person. He will arrange a reading for 10 people just as happily as he will for 100. He just loves to read poetry and to hear it read by others around him.
The first event in this monthly series will feature Bob Phillips and Zach Fishel. I have recently written about Fishel, but will offer you this bio: Zach Fishel is the University of Toledo Press Fellow and a Pushcart Nominee. He is currently finishing his M.A. and looking toward a PhD in American Literature and Environmental Studies.
Fishel’s work has appeared in numerous journals, most recently appearing in Boiler, Whole Beast Rag, Amphibi, and Penduline Press. He co-edits poetry at Red Fez.
While Fishel is new to Toledo, Phillips should be a name almost anyone who has been involved in Toledo poetry the past few decades should recognize. One of the most honest, straightforward voices our city has, he has carved out a reputation that is as solid as oak.
He is the author of the Toledo Poets Center’s “I’m Not Your Sweet Babboo” and the more recent Covert Press title, “Swallowing Our Love for Everything.”
This first reading will run 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 20, and will feature an open mic. The reading is free and open to the public.
The Sept. 17 reading will feature Toledo Free Press Star Poetry contributors Shannon Ranee McKeehen and Cherie Bullock-
Myslinsky. Black Kite Coffee is located at 2499 Collingwood Blvd.
For more information, call (419) 720-5820 or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlackKiteCoffee .
Until next time … keep your pencil sharp.
John Dorsey resides in Toledo’s Old West End. His work is widely published and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.