Local Poets Join Musicians and a Dancer for a Night of Improvisation at Safety Harbor Art and Music Center

Local poet and professor Cole Bellamy had a vision last year when he first brought The Poetry Show to the Bunker in Ybor City.


Cole Bellamy hosts events on both sides of the bay — here he’s emceeing a Lucha Libro story writing competition in Gulfport. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.

“The idea was to get some musical improvisers to back up some poetry, but something more avant-garde, not like a jazz combo like you would normally see with poets,” he says.

So get Mike Myers spouting “Woman. Woe man” out of your head. Bellamy’s event is crossing the bay.

The Pinellas version of the event came about when Safety Harbor Art and Music Center event coordinator Ed Derkevics attended the performance and liked Bellamy’s vision so much that he asked him to bring it to SHAMc –an idea coming to fruition Saturday, Jan. 27.

“I’m a writer, mainly, but I also make some music, though I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a real musician. I tinker with synthesizers and make weird noises,” said Bellamy, who teaches Creative Writing and English at St. Leo University and USF St. Petersburg. So he asked percussionist Meghan McManus to help with the music side of the event.

“My setup will include pitched cowbells, opera gongs, bell strings and Noah bells. Dragon’s mouths, which are Korean woodblocks. Knives and bowls. Hardwood logs. Maybe a triangle? And whatever other surprises I can come up with before the event.” McManus will be joined by Kevin Baylen on theremin and Alexa Carlton on synthesizer.

This time around, Bellamy and Derkevics will also be spouting prose with hand-selected poets. Additionally, contemporary dancer Natalie Bohin will add some movements to the performance. Bigger venue, bigger show.

“SHAMC is a great venue for this type of thing,” said co-organizer Derevics. “As soon as I saw the Bunker show, I could envision it there. We’re trying to get more experimental and avant-garde with performances, headliners and participants at our open mic.”


“Instruments” from a previous iteration of the Poetry Show.

According to Derkevics, the idea for the Poetry Show got positive feedback at the recent installment of the SHAMC Alive open mic every fourth Wednesday each month. He also promises “surprises” during Saturday’s event.


Adds Bellamy: “I love the venue, and I think this will be great for it. I grabbed a few poets that I know, and then Ed Derkevics grabbed some Safety Harbor poets, and Meghan is gathering some musicians, and we’re going to mash it all together and see what happens.”

And the colorful aesthetic of SHAMc should prove just the place for a magical night for performers and the audience alike.

When to go:

Saturday, Jan. 27,  at 6:30 p.m.

Suggested $5 donation at the door.