Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Smoking Poet has celebrated stogies and stanzas for five years

Mark Wedel | Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette
Posted:  04/24/2011 3:06 PM
KALAMAZOO — Five years ago, Zinta Aistars dreamed of opening a poetry/cigar lounge.

The Kalamazoo writer was in Austin, Texas, on a business trip and visited a cigar lounge. There, she saw how clientele “just dropped the stress of the world at the door,” Aistars said.

The owner had Aistars try some of the more expensive brands of cigars.

“It wasn’t the first time I’d lit up a stogie,” she admitted.

“He almost had me convinced that I needed to go back to Kalamazoo and open up a cigar lounge,” she said. “It would have this ambiance, a dusky atmosphere, and there’d be jazz in the corner and a poet might get up to read poetry from time to time. And people would just drop the stress at  the door.”

Back home, “my senses had returned, and I realized I didn’t have the capital for an undertaking like that,” she said.

Websites are not as expensive to launch, though.

Aistars created The Smoking Poet (, a quarterly online magazine of poetry, prose, music reviews and cigar reviews. In its virtual pages, it has featured nationally known Pushcart Prize winners such as Dorianne Laux and contributors from around the world. It also makes room for those whom Aistars calls Kalamazoo’s “poetry rock stars,” and local prose writers including Conrad Hilberry, Diane Seuss, Gail Griffin, Bonnie Jo Campbell, David Small and Stuart Dybek.

The Kalamazoo Friends of Poetry is throwing a five-year anniversary party for The Smoking Poet April 28 at The Wine Loft.

If You Go
“Putting on the Dog: The Smoking Poet Celebrates 5” Poetry celebration with readings by writers including Zinta Aistars, Rick Chambers, Michael Loyd Gray, Gail Griffin, Hedy Habra, Kathy Jennings, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Colleen Kolhoff Little, Kate Lutes, Lori A. May, Amy Newday, Cheryl Peck, Elaine Seaman and Diane Seuss.

When: 7 p.m. April 28
Where: The Wine Loft, 161 E. Michigan Ave.
Cost: Free
Contact: 269-672-2622,

The event will include ...


No comments:

Post a Comment