Three years ago Valentin Flores invited me to bring Poetry Matters monthly gatherings to Stay Gallery. At that time, in its first two years Poetry Matters had been one jump ahead of the closing of Mari’s Wine Bar, where we started, and the Rives Mansion, now closed too.
Since then, Poetry Matters at Stay Gallery has thrived, being able to offer that location consistently for our Third Thursday readings. Stay Gallery shines a bright light in anchoring downtown Downey. At our evening events, our patrons feel safe and comfortable walking on Downey Avenue to and from Stay. Pedestrians strolling by look in and join us, and often our audience is getting its first look at Stay Gallery and downtown Downey. Our needs are small: an open room, chairs, a table, a microphone. Stay offers more than that: the ever-changing exhibits on the walls offer a stimulating background for conversation.
Our reputations have enhanced each other. Stay has become known for its outreach into the community, and Poetry Matters with its open microphone offers local poets an opportunity to connect with an audience, before an established poet performs. Poetry Matters has brought distinguished contemporary poets from all over Southern California to Downey, has published two anthologies of those poets, and as we begin our sixth year. is at work on a third.
I feel that Stay Gallery offers the ideal arts setting, and is a natural platform for poetry.
Stay is a constant beacon and outpost, visible proof of what the Downey Arts Coalition, partnering with Downey Vibe, and backed by the City Council, can do. Stay is small but its vision is large.