Open Mic

The Yakima Coffeehouse Poets presents Open Mic Night on the second Wednesday of each month, September through May. We would like to thank Larson Gallery, W Nob Hill Blvd & 16th Ave, YVC Campus, in Yakima, for allowing us the use of its Gallery Space. This event is open to the public and people are encouraged to read their original poetry (please keep your reading time to about 4 minutes). Donations are welcome at the door.

Yakima Coffeehouse Poets

Next Open Mic night…
Wednesday,
October 9, 2019, 7pm

Larson Gallery, YVC Campus
(Corner of W Nob Hill Blvd & 16th Ave)

Free parking for open mic night is available in the main YVC
parking lot next to Parker Field, east of Larson Gallery.

Host: Tyrone Ross Thompson

Tyrone Ross Thompson is a Wyampum Nez Perce Indian of the Columbia River, and the great-great grandson of Chief Tommy Thompson of Celilo Falls, Oregon. It was Tommy’s father who hosted Lewis Clark at Celilo Falls during their first exploration along the Columbia River in the early 19th Century.

Tyrone was a fellow of the Native Youth Leadership Alliance in 2011 and is a contributing writer for Last Real Indians, an online news source for issues about Indian Country. He is also active in the Indigenous Environmental Network, a nationwide alliance of Indigenous peoples whose mission it is to address environmental and economic justice issues.

He is also the author of the poetry collection, “Washani Tales,” which focuses on Tyrone’s Wyampum tribal roots. The Wyampum are the indigenous people who, historically, have lived at Celilo Falls for thousands of years. “Washani Tales” can be downloaded from the Amazon.com website.


Letter to the Creator

            —By Tyrone Ross Thompson

It’s a daily burden to grow stronger
trying and living with a memory
marked by hearsay but searching for power
Although lost self-love
amongst the cycle of inane love
It may seem I lost faith from not standing on sacred
soil but it does not mean the tenet is diminished
it is people who made a committee and had it corrupted
I now understand all the old timers anger
and worshipping from home instead of at longhouses that became political
The homes have grown into qualification & upmanship
of imaginary measurement
a commanded respect instead of humility & kinship
The oppressors world infected our service
part of the indigenous world is hardly a service
To each other one of the elders requests goes ignored
from season to season, year after year
I’m often lost at all that has been damaged
But one action isolated me like a leper
but hasn’t defined how I see the supreme spiritual
Despite it all it infected humility
suicide was a choice and option
the depths of the negative became insanity
Witnessed and experienced like becoming institutionally traumatized
the colonizers mark poisoned us & became historically traumatized
It was others trying to give definition
into indigenous practice like the repression
by invading forces that caused oppression
Questioning if this is unresolved jealously
a transfer of energy that has unknown endurance
But we’re still all connected to everything essential
of life giving sources and laws unwritten
that still guide our supreme Washani spiritual
Even though this society attempts us to be institutionally traumatized
some battling with our lives to destroy being historically traumatized
From season to season, year after year
and this is my letter to the Creator.

Yakima Coffeehouse Poets


Like the Poetry contest, Open Mic Night got its start at Allied Arts. The event was initiated in 2005 by local poet Elaine Smith and was encouraged by the former Allied Arts director Elizabeth Herres Miller and her successor Jessica Moskwa.  They felt a monthly forum where local poets could read original work would complement the annual contest. They were right. Poets Claire Carpenter, Dotty Armstrong, Chuck Forster, Rod Nelson, Linda Brown, Ed Stover, Elaine Smith, and Mark Fuzie have kept Open Mic alive.

Open Mic Night was popular at the outset and remains so as a program now run by the Yakima Coffeehouse Poets.  Come read a poem and meet your fellow Yakima poets.