Jennifer Leigh Coates is a professional writer, a copywriter at Sandweiss Koster Inc., with interests in poetry, short fiction - and crepes. Crepes? One afternoon, at Chez Elle, the Crossroads creperie at 1713 Summit, Coates was having lunch in the cozy dining room and started, by chance, a conversation with the restaurant's owner, Ellen Trakas: "I told her the space could be ideal for a poetry reading and then the ideas just started flowing."
The result was an agreement to launch a new literary event in the restaurant, Second Saturdays at Chez Elle. The first program will be held this Saturday, June 9. The dining room will be open from 6 to 9 p.m., and three featured speakers - Mel Neet, Vi Tran and Tom Ryan - will read from their own works for 12 to 15 minutes each.
"After that," Coates says, "the microphone is open to other writers who bring their own work. They are each allowed five minutes each to read."
The idea is for the program to become a regular series, offered the second Saturday of each month. "The first half of the performance will be curated," Coates says, "with two or three featured writers. The second half will be an open-mic format."
There will be no charge for attending the event, Coates says, but patrons are encouraged to purchase a coffee, crepe or dessert while listening to the readers.
"There is a lot of writing talent in Kansas City," Coates says. "We hope to introduce new artists to the community through this event."