New event shines (moon) light on local poets: Moonlit Poets to debut monthly event this Friday

It’s lit — moonlit that is.

Michael Christenson, Juneau resident and producer of Moonlit Poets, reads his poetry at Moonlit Poets’ soft opening event hosted in early September. The poetry group is set to kick off its grand monthly entrance in downtown Juneau at the Crystal Saloon’s back room this Friday night. (Courtesy Photo / Summer Koester)

Michael Christenson, Juneau resident and producer of Moonlit Poets, reads his poetry at Moonlit Poets’ soft opening event hosted in early September. The poetry group is set to kick off its grand monthly entrance in downtown Juneau at the Crystal Saloon’s back room this Friday night. (Courtesy Photo / Summer Koester)

If you’re over the moon about poetry, there’s an event for you.

A new poetry open mic event is kicking off its grand monthly entrance in downtown Juneau at the Crystal Saloon’s back room this Friday night, and organizers are inviting anyone in Juneau to break out their berets and butter up their snapping fingers for the night.

The event-organizing poetry group, Moonlit Poets, will provide a sign-up sheet 15 minutes ahead of the event where residents can enroll for a timeslot on stage to read their best three poems or five minutes of reading — whichever comes first said Michael Christenson, Juneau resident and producer of Moonlit Poets. The group will also accept donations to go toward revolving non-profits.

Though the existing new poetry group had a soft opening back in September, Christenson said this event will be the group’s grand kickoff to begin its monthly reading cycle here in the capital city. He said at the soft opening, around 30 people attended the event and around 10 people were able to share their work in the hour-long period. He said he expects a similar turnout this time around, but hopes to squeeze in more readers during the night.

“It’s a great opportunity for local storytellers to come back together and tell their five-minute stories — where they are poem or prose or a little bit of comedy — once a month,” said Katie Bausler, a local writer and the emcee of Friday’s event.

The name Moonlit Poets was chosen after the first event, which happened to take place on a full moon. Christenson said it inspired the group to choose a celestial-inspired name and work to have its future monthly events land sometime near the full moon.

“‘Waxing Gibbous Poets’ didn’t make it and the ‘Penny Moon Poets’ wasn’t good either — but Moonlit Poets seemed to do it just right,” he said, laughing.

Christenson said hosting the event in the back room of the Crystal Saloon gives an “industrial intimate” feel to the room which he said fits “perfectly” with the atmosphere and energy the group hopes to stir up within the readers during the event. He said the reading back in September already brought the energy he felt had been missing in Juneau for the past few years,

“The first one was very cathartic and I was floating on cloud nine for about two days after that,” he said. “Our tagline is ‘Taking poetry out of the university, and bringing it back to the bars where it belongs.”

Christenson said though this is just the beginning of the poetry group entering into the Juneau scene, he hopes it can continue as a monthly tradition for years to come. He said he was inspired to create the group after Woosh Kinaadeiyí stopped hosting its poetry nights back in 2020 and found that he missed the connection and energy of Juneau poets and wanted to reignite it again in a new way.

“I missed the community, I missed having something new to write every month so it motivates you to write new things and you get to see what everybody else is doing as well — we’re starting to rebuild that,” he said.

Bausler agreed and added: “Sometimes people can be hesitant or think they are not at the same caliber of other poets but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a great opportunity to try your poetry out loud to a supportive group of community members and have some fun at the same time.”

Know & Go

What: Moonlit Poets open mic

Where: Crystal Saloon, 218 Front St.

When: 7-8 p.m Friday, Nov. 4. Sign-up opens at 6:45 p.m.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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