Little “a” Poetry Series Calendar of the Next Little While

February 16, 2012

Hey folks! I filled in a few blanks (and even crossed some “I”s and dotted some “T”s) and am proud to publish:


Seriously. Come to one or all of these.

February 16th – Jon Shyllberg

A very strange little Asian man, who inexplicably has held the dubious honor of drawing more people to his feature(s) than any other poet I’ve ever booked. He has sent college girls running out the door in tears, was once banned from reading at the Poets’ Asylum, and is a fine chess player.

February 23rd – Tori Parham

Tori is a strong writer and a wonderful performer who has never featured before. This old cowboy remembers her reading her poems at the Youth Slams when they occurred at the Java Hut, and she was good way back then! Her feature is long overdue. Also she can sing like you wouldn’t believe.

March 1st – Ryk McIntyre

If you are unfamiliar with Ryk, you are hereby mandated to attend the Little “a” on March 1st for the betterment of your education. If you know Ryk, then of course I’ll see you there, right? Seriously though, Mr. McIntyre is a fine poet who is a dear friend of mine, he has represented Worcester at NPS several times, as well as having been a co-host of both The Boston Slam at the Cantab Lounge and GotPoetry Live! in Providence. Don’t miss it.

March 8th – Marc Marcel

Nationally known Spoken Word artist, poet, and novelist from Baltimore, MD, making a Worcester stop at our humble reading. Come show support for a man on tour!

March 15th – Matt Fox

I could throw some corniness out about how songwriting is also poetry to justify having booked Matt Fox for the 15th. And I’d maybe be right. The truth is, it has been far too long since I’ve heard the folk storytelling of the fantastic Matt Fox, and I’m awfully happy to feature him this month. Matt has an intuitive sense of heart and conveyance in his music that you will undoubtedly dig. Dig? Dig.

March 22nd – Dave Gibbs

Dave has been performing poetry in Worcester for a long time, never seeming to slow down or lose any enthusiasm about the community. His “unedited musings” have brightened my day a great deal of times, and he remains one of those characters in the Worcester arts scene that consistently reminds me why I like it.

March 29th – Matthew Flynn

Matthew is a Worcester comedian who has the balls to sign up at open mics for musicians and poets everywhere. He put together a string of shows for the end of March, and I was happy to set him up with a feature. He has been on many a bill with Shane Hall and the Ticklebomb Orchestra, and is a regular at the Dirty Gerund Poetry Show. Come down, pull up a chair, crack a joke and a smile. 🙂



A Bit of History Behind the Infamous Little “a”

February 5, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a cafe called The Q on Chandler St in Worcester. The Cowboy worked there, and handled the booking. The Q had been home to the Poets’ Asylum for a while after the Java Hut went out of business, but licensing issues forced them to move on. Once these issues were negotiated, folks around The Q started wishing the room would fill with poetry once again, so the Cowboy commissioned one Nick Davis to run a reading on Monday nights, a night of the week unoccupied by any other reading in the fair city.

The reading started and it was a hit. Two months into it Nick appeared for the first time, the Cowboy having hosted thus far, cementing his role as permanent host. A short while later, The Dirty Gerund Poetry Show appeared at Ralph’s Rock Diner on Monday nights – and fortuitously enough, Bobby Gibbs ended his After 9 Poetry Series at the Hotel Vernon. Naturally, the Little “a” moved to the aforementioned reading’s Thursday night slot, where it stays to this day.

In a Worcester Magazine article about The Q’s Two Year Anniversary Show, Providence poet and Slam Veteran Ryk McIntyre described the Little “a” as “the aural equivalent of a quirky, cult-video store, or a Rhino Records compilation: always a surprise and a delight you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.” They go on to paraphrase his assertion that it is an alternative to a typical slam venue, more prone to variety and experimentalism. I’d have to say this is true; antics on the Little “a” stage were typically atypical. The irregular regular readers always managed to take the audience (and host) off guard. Take, for example, Jon Shyllberg’s play-by-play of a famous chess match, read with much excitement during an open mic, or Shrewsbury High School student James Connolly’s persistent performance of Poe’s “The Raven”. Poems about G. G. Allin, or B-Movies, playful exercises that bordered on performance art. A creative writing class from Assumption College running away in terror. And the themed nights – Surrealist Open Mics and slams such as the 10 Second Slam, which just seemed to poke fun at the concept of a reading in and of itself. Then there’s this:

Then of course, there were honorable aspects to the reading. Lots of folks who never thought they’d be offered a feature found themselves booked; a new community was formed, born out of a fire of malaise… and people were mixing it up. Slam poets, folks from the Worcester County Poetry Association, youths, elders, musicians… some who wouldn’t normally consider a poetry event a thing to do started coming by. And those who had lost faith in the concept of a poetry open mic suddenly found themselves a new home. To my surprise, as well as others’, The Little “a” was actually voted Best Spoken Word Venue in Worcester Magazine’s Awards that year.

Clearly though, nothing is permanent. The Q eventually closed its doors as well, but J. Stuart Esty, the Good Doctor himself, gave the Little “a” a home at his Emporium for a bit… until an even more dramatic change happened. The Cowboy got a legit job that had him working nights. The Little “a” went on hiatus… possibly to never return.

Eventually, the Cowboy’s hours changed, and the kind folks at the Strange Attractor offered their gallery space to him for the reading. It kicked off in June with none other than John Hodgen, and continues to this day. 7:30 every Thursday night, you can find us at 97D Webster St, reading poems and stuff. It should be noted – You must drive through the lot for 97 Webster and continue to the back of the building… poet Jim Fay has a piece about his first visit, in which the dance instructor at a nearby studio described it as being “beyond the dumpster”. So yeah, I’m that guy that runs a reading behind the dumpster. Come hang out with us. Unless you’re stuck up or something!!

Just kidding. Please come. Whaddaya want, begging???


THIS THURSDAY! Sam C. Features!

February 4, 2012

This Thursday, February 9th, we at the Little “a” are proud to feature Sam C! A little bit about Sam:


Sam C occasionally writes for the comedy website Cracked.com, source of some of the world’s most interesting numbered lists. He rarely edits poetry for the digital press WordPlague and even less frequently than that posts to his blog Bear Hat Fiesta, which absolutely does not contain stories about his travels around the world. He would like to get more involved with social justice and fighting for sundry rights, so you should talk to him about that.


Sam is a regular reader at the Dirty Gerund Poetry Show, and has featured at The Raven’s Wednesday Night Open Mic. Come down and show your support for a local voice, read some poems, and meet some cool people. Also he said he might bring snacks. Just sayin’.


Out of the Dark Ages Lumbers a Cowboy

February 4, 2012

What’s happenin’, Ladies and Gents? This Worcester Cowpoke has decided to get with the times and start a blog site for the reading he runs, namely The Little “a” Poetry Series – the Thursday night spot for spoken word enjoyment! But you know that already, don’t you? Of course you do! Cuz you’re reading my blog!


But then again, it’s not my blog; it’s ours! I’ve tried to approach the subject in a non-cornball way at many a Little “a”; that it’s not “my reading” or “my show” – it’s about a community in a relaxed environment, sharing with, learning from, enjoying the words of, and occasionally being offended by, others!

Honestly though, facebook is really annoying for me to use a good deal of the time. I tend to get flaky with it, and this blog may help me to centralize necessary data, info, events and such in one place and help me keep everyone else abreast of the scheduled events. Of course, it’s the Devil I don’t know, as opposed to the one that I do – so forgive my amateurish blogging until I get the hang of it. Please??? I try so damned hard!!!!


On that note, I aim to put a concerted effort into keeping this up-to-date. It’s been a long strange road this little reading has traveled; from it’s inception at The Q Cafe, where it won “Best Spoken Word Venue” in the Worcester Magazine Awards, to its stint at Dr. Gonzo’s All-Natural Mega-Spicy Comestible Emporium, through a hiatus on account’a me working nights, bringing us to the present at The Strange Attractor – a hodge podge community of arts and culture folk in an old industrial setting, home of TESLA, Ferromorphics Design, and the most comfortable space yet. That’d be 97D Webster St for those who don’t know… We’ve hosted a great array of fine voices, and have many more features planned for the future. Great memories, great stuff just around the corner…


Hope to see you soon! Peace out!


– The Cowboy