NOTE: This interview took place before the Covid-19 crisis.
TORRINGTON — For three years, Darien native Patricia Martin has invited people throughout the Northwest Corner to speak with passion at her event, the Speakeasy.
The Speakeasy is held every first Sunday of the month at the Noelke Gallery at 15 Water Street.
Martin’s events include an open mic for poets and writers; a place where creative people can speak easy to a crowd.
At its last event on March 1, the Speakeasy featured state Poet Laureate Margaret Gibson, who read some of her work to an audience of 60 people.
“Over three years it’s grown, we used to have only a dozen or so people in the audience,” Martin said. “I think the audience and the open mic has grown in size because there is a need for people to express themselves and be heard.”
Martin said that the monthly event is not inclusive.
“Everybody is welcome because everyone has a voice,” Martin said. “There’s no judgment. It’s always open and open-hearted. People can read anything during the open mic, including monologues and essays.”
Martin said she first came up with the idea after she moved to the area.
“When I first moved here, I didn’t know anybody outside of the household I was in,” Martin said. “I came from a creative community where something is going on every night and I couldn’t find anything here. The clincher was that I found an open mic event at a congregational church in Goshen. I was like, wow! So nearby. I called and it turned out it was Goshen, New York!”
Martin said that she first met Noelke gallery owner John Noelke at one of his events.
“I went into his gallery and he has this wooden box with the words ‘speak with passion’ painted on it,” Martin said. “John goes ‘come on, get up on the box and speak with passion!’ I stood up on the box and performed some poetry. He tells me ‘Wow! You are the first person who stood up on that box to speak with passion! You have to have your poetry here!’”
Martin said she feels very strongly about the power of words.
“Poetry and any art form involves exposing yourself, and that is the beauty of art,” Marin said. “Whether it is poetry, music, or painting, anything that is an artistic expression is a cathartic thing.”
After three years of hosting Speakeasy events, Martin will be giving some of her hosting duties to Jack Sheedy.
Sheedy is a Speakeasy regular and is a journalist for The Catholic Transcript and has written for several newspapers, including The Hartford Courant.
“Don’t ever be afraid to get up on stage at the Speakeasy,” Sheedy said. “You will not be shunned when you come because we will all hear what you have to say. You will not be criticized for reading a comma out of place. You will be applauded.”
“It’s great to always have a variety of voices,” Martin added. “In this culture, people need to be heard.”
For more information about Speakeasy, including future events after the Covid-19 crisis, go to https://www.facebook.com/SpeakEasy-1242412002564182/