Feature Friday: Night at the Open Mic

By Fatima Shaik

The owner of KGB Bar, Denis Woychuk, poses with Rhona Whitty, Linda Epstein, and Sonia Kane.

About 50 WNBA-NYC members and friends navigated through narrow East 4th Street, went up two flights of slanted stairs and crowded into the famous KGB Bar to participate in the second annual Open Mic on May 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. The journey was an adventure to the trendy East Village club and, then, to countless locales in members’ 5-minute readings.

Listeners went into the classroom of a Jewish student in racist South Africa, the mind of a young girl meeting her mother’s new lover, and the back seat of a car on a drug-infused trip to a mental hospital. The audience witnessed tender, poetic tributes to an Alzheimer’s parent and to a long-standing, compatible-incompatible couple. Spectators experienced the anger of an abandoned daughter and the wit of a man obsessed with all things big. The diversity of places and genres cannot be described, but some responses can.

Three of the night’s readers: (from left) Deborah Batterman, Marilyn Berkman, and Fatima Shaik

There were gasps when a man smothered a bird and his unsuspecting human victim entered the room, knowing glances when a husband and wife interacted with their unemployed son, laughter when a narrator defined “learning to drink like a lady,” and attentive silence when protagonists arrived in surprisingly new and poignantly all-too-familiar places.

The two-hour expedition moved swiftly thanks to emcee Linda Epstein, and the wayfarers quenched their thirsts for beverages and camaraderie (comrade-ry?) in the KGB Bar’s small, red room displaying the red flag with the gold hammer and sickle.

This post is from guest blogger and WNBA-NYC member, Fatima Shaik. Fatima is the author of four books of fiction for adults and children set in her native New Orleans. She is currently researching her first non-fiction book about the members of a hidden Afro-Creole society in the 19th century. She teaches writing at Saint Peter’s College.  To learn more about Fatima, visit her website at www.fatimashaik.com.


  1. You captured the evening beautifully. I was entranced with your story and your New Orleans lovely drawl as you read. It was a fun night and I appreciated the opportunity to read from my novel, Flourish.

  2. A perfect snapshot (I’m talking about the write-up 😉 that captures the spirit of our night at KGB. Looking forward to more.