Womanly words

Tonya Flint and Joshua Lee Vineyard

Photo By Gabriel Doss

Tonya Flint and Joshua Lee Vineyard aren’t daunted by the perception that Reno isn’t a literary town. Sure, Artown takes over in July, and there is a lot of live music in Reno every week, but literature only seems to take center stage during the Great Basin Book Festival in September. But Thursday nights at Esoteric Coffeehouse & Gallery, 135 N. Sierra St., the Inversely Poetic open mic poetry night offers local and visiting poets a chance to expose Reno to the literary side of art on a continuing basis. At 7 p.m. June 20, however, the style won’t be open mic. Flint and Vineyard are holding a women’s poetry night and are hoping to book a female band to play during the intermission.

What is the inspiration behind this event?

Flint: I had the idea for a poetry night when I was still in Portland [Ore.]. Get together a group of spoken word female performers who are all local. We have girls from the age of 15 to possibly in their 40s. But instead of an open mic, it will be featured poets.

Vineyard: It’s dedicated to the female artists. We have a very testosterone-driven open mic night. Usually, it overshadows our female artists. This is our way of putting a spotlight on the vagina.

Is this an ongoing series you plan to have or a one-time thing?

Flint: If it goes well, I’d like to see it ongoing. We are very open to having anybody have a show. We are very supportive of the literary scene.

Vineyard: The objective of our group is to develop a serious spoken word scene in Reno. We truly think we have enough talent to hold anyone’s attention.

Why are you doing a female poetry night?

Flint: This is not a focus on feminine [writing], per se.

Vineyard: Not any of it is political. This is simply a showcase of talent. The reason we are doing this is that in our literary scene right now, men are so dominating. Which isn’t a bad thing—it’s just our thing.

Flint: It’s nice to have a change. It gets people involved, hopefully, and that’s a good thing. For anyone who wants to see our literary scene grow, it’s good.

What is the state of Reno’s literary scene?

Vineyard: We have enough serious talent to make people stand up and notice. And once we do, it is going to be fantastic. We are dead serious about making quality art.

Flint: I’d say we are out to abolish the image of the book nerd. There is a huge calling for literary work. This is all real. We are the youth, and we are very youth-driven. To have a massive amount of talent in Reno, it is incredible. We bring our art, and others can express themselves, too.