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Reading series returns to Café Nostalgica after five-month hiatus

Photo by Marta Kierkus

Blue Mondays are back with the full-fledged return of Café Nostalgica.

The Undergraduate English Students’ Association (UESA) reading series features an open mic for local poets, writers, and musicians, as well as featured performers on the third Monday of every month at 8:30 p.m.

Blue Mondays returns after a five-month hiatus. Café Nostalgica was an integral part of the event, so when it closed for renovations last year, the event had poor turnouts. The loss of its liquor license was another blow. Mia Morgan, vp literary of the UESA, runs the event and decided to postpone until they found a suitable location.

“It’s really easy to find really talented people to come and perform,” she said. “If they don’t have a really big audience I didn’t think it was fair.”

Morgan has been performing in Ottawa’s spoken word community steadily for three years. She said Blue Mondays provide “a venue for people who might not have shared their work before.”

The evening starts with the open mic, which anyone can participate in. After the open mic, Matthew Burling, this month’s featured writer, will read his new novella, The North York Play of the Crucifixion. The plot follows the rivalries of three different women living in a small town. In 2013, he won the UESA’s 48-hour novella writing contest, where participants are given a theme to write about on a Friday and have until Sunday to finish an 18- to 25-page novella.

Burling graduated from the University of Ottawa last year. He said Ottawa needs more community involvement in order to capitalize on its potential to develop its potential as an artistic community.

“It needs people getting together reading each other, criticizing each other in order to get a proper literary culture going.”

Blue Mondays finish off with a variety of musicians. Morgan said anything that can be “set up easily and sounds good” is welcome.

“I think the thing I’m going to get the most excited about are people who sign up for the open mic who tell me, ‘I’ve never performed before, do you think I should sign up?’” said Morgan. “It’s so intimidating but once you do it once you can’t stop — it’s so much fun.”

She said she isn’t sure whether she will perform, but did say she already had the perfect piece selected, just in case. In honour of the resurrection of Café Nostalgica’s liquor license, she’s considering reading “At the Quinte Hotel” by Al Purdy.

“The first line is, ‘I am drinking,’” she said, “so I feel like that’ll be a nice way to introduce the night.”