Authors’ Afternoon at Stella’s

From the Regal Heights Review Fall 2019, Vol I

By Peggy Lampotang

People in Regal Heights are dedicated to improving the neighbourhood, not only by making it safer and more beautiful, but also by uniting people through community events. One of those events is the Authors’ Afternoon, held once a month on Sunday afternoons at Stella’s Lunchbox Café.

The idea of creating an afternoon for authors to share their work grew from the café owner’s openness to cultural happenings in the neighbourhood. Tony Merante, who also owns Desotos next door, had already initiated jazz brunches on Sundays and open mic nights on Thursdays. They give both professional and aspiring musicians opportunities to jam and practice their songs in front of an audience.

Guitar players, pianists, sax players, violinists, bass players, drummers, and singers kept dropping by on Thursdays. Often, they spontaneously clicked, producing uplifting rhythms and sounds that pushed the creative vibes to a euphoric level.

As someone who works in the arts, I know how difficult it is for artists to promote themselves. But I’ve always believed that when opportunity knocks, I have to open the door. When Tony Merante made it clear that he was open to more cultural events in his establishment, I then arranged a few exhibitions of my own photography at Desotos and recommended a few artists to Tony for art exhibitions. We were all happy for the exposure and even sold photographs and paintings. Tony’s support for artists extended to film screenings and literary events such as book launches. He was happy that more patrons would frequent his restaurant and did not charge fees unless it was during his busiest time of the day.

With that in mind, and charmed by the warm, friendly and cozy atmosphere at Stella’s Lunch Box Café, it was there I launched “Island Lovers”– my book of poetry and photography. I was thrilled with the convivial ambience that the space generated as well as the enthusiastic turnout.

From that emerged the idea for the Authors’ Afternoon at Stella’s. It’s a regular monthly meet-up to give authors the opportunity to read from their books and to share their creative journeys.

I volunteered to run it. The first reading took place on the last Sunday of July 2017. Neighbourhood authors were keen to participate and soon the year was fully booked. Some became regulars and spread the word about the authors’ series to others.

Authors of fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, and poetry joined the list of guests, each bringing their unique experience and points of view. The discussions became a meeting of minds that inspired many to start writing or to keep writing, and others to read more. The Authors’ Afternoon runs the last Sunday of every month from 4-6 pm. You are all very welcome to join us.