Of the three poetry readings I regularly attend in Prague, the Spit it Out series is gaining in my favor. Part of that is because of the location. The A Maze in Tchaiovna is a very cool place with a very weird name. In the front room they have board games and other things going on. It just looks like most other pubs/tea rooms in Prague, except more for hippies. Then you go through the first secret door. I’m serious, there are hidden doors. It looks like part of the bookcase (and, in fact, it is, but it’s also a door), and once through that, you’re into the performance space.
There’s a stage, some tables and chairs, some tables and sofas, and a piano. It’s a good place for a reading, because it’s a dedicated space. When you have a poetry reading in a cafe, there are people there who didn’t come for the poetry reading, and see no reason whatsoever why they should interrupt their conversation.
From there, you go back into a couple more ‘secret’ rooms, through doors that don’t actually look like doors.
It isn’t just about the space, though. The organizer is an extremely intense poet in her own right, of the confessional/ranting/outraged variety, and she always keeps the audience focused. Sometimes I feel I know more about her personal history, and psychology, than it is decent for another person to know, because she totally lays it all out there. But, she also seems to have a talent for drawing in other artists and there are some very talented people showing up there who don’t come to the two others.
I’ll continue going to all three, of course. Alchemy has tradition and continuity behind it, I often see old friends, and it’s currently in a performance space instead of just some cafe, which is a big plus.
The readings formerly known as the Soma readings, after the pub they were held in, are fun for me because there are a lot of French speakers there and I get to practice, and plenty of people who like to smoke pot, so the breaks are a lot of fun. But, it just moved from one pub to another.
What’s amazing to me is that, outside of maybe 3 or 4 people, there’s not much overlap between the crowds at all. I don’t get it, but in a way it’s a good thing. You can get away with reading the same thing two or three times, for one.