|Poet/writer Kelly Hamilton, a regular at the Inspired Word Cafe events, will be the featured speaker at the Dec. 19 get-together.|
The free event, called the Inspired Word Cafe, is drawing interest and gaining in popularity as more musicians, singers, writers and poets discover a place where ideas can be aired, enjoyed and talked about.
Founder and organizer Rawle James said the idea for the inspired cafe germinated some four years ago as "a means to inspire my students and help them to remove blocks that limit creative flow.
"I started with just one show each month, and it has grown to having us host four shows each month at various venues around town and in Lake Country," he explained.
All artists, singers, musicians, writers and poets are welcome to present their work at the informal sessions, while the "mainstays of the group" are Kim Lake, poet/artist; Sami Al-khalili, poet/beatboxer and James Barg as production manager.
"The inspired word cafe is important because it provides a safe environment for artists to perform through the art of practice," James said.
"For many performers, it's their first time performing their poetry or music, and IWC is a community that embraces the artists with love and support."
Resonating with a true "coffeehouse feeling," the shows rotate from location to location, including sessions in the atrium at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, the public library and several different Starbucks locations.
The cafe sessions are committed to providing space and encouragement for all artists, regardless of age or ability, to "shine, grow and develop" their individual craft.
Poet/writer Kelly Hamilton has been "a regular" at the IWC for "several months" and will be the special featured artist at the Dec. 19 session set for the public library.
"I knew about it for about a year, and finally decided to get up and do some of my poems," Hamilton said.
"I love going, to hear other people's work, their music. There are many great artists around, and this gives them a voice and opportunity to express their creativity, their ideas."
She added the shows are opportunities to "relate and connect with each other" in a very supportive and non-judgmental way.
"It takes courage to get out in front of a group, but because none of us are professionals, if you stumble or are really nervous, we all understand that feeling. We all clap and encourage you. It's not about being perfect, but it's about improving and sharing and learning."
Hamilton added that for a few hours of entertainment, the shows are perfect for anyone who wants to "get out for a couple hours, have a coffee and listen to great entertainment."
"It's a very loose and very inviting," she said. "You just show up with your material and get up and do it when it's your turn."
While musicians and poets have been the mainstay during the past four years, there are now "more comedy acts" coming forward as well.
"We've had quite a variety of people," Hamilton said. "There's been poetry with music, story-tellers, musicians. There's some really great talent out there, very worthwhile talents. The comedy is really entertaining, there's no cursing and swearing going on."
She added that the free events, which take place from 6 to 8 p.m., are an opportunity for "like minds" to enjoy the opportunity to "relate and connect with each other."
Her own work runs the gamut of topics, from relationships to environmental issues, self-awareness, coping with women's issues, learning to be "calm and at peace" with oneself and the world.
"Some of us present topics that are radical, some spiritual, some funny. It's really a mixed bag, but all is entertaining."
What: The Inspired Word Cafe.
When & where: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. in the atrium of the Rotary Centre for the Arts, and Thursday, Dec. 19 in the Kelowna Public Library, with Kelly Hamilton as the featured artist.