From the front of the converted house you can hear the microphone through the speakers. The backyard is lit by swinging bulbs with old books hanging from the wires. Candles accompany the wine glasses on the picnic tables and become more distinct as dusk turns the sky to a blue blackness.
A podium sits at the far end of the tables in front of the fence. Tonight, the crowd will hear from some of Dallas’ local poetry groups, Bonehouse.
This is The Wild Detectives, a coffee shop, bar, bookstore and restaurant that opened in 2014 and has since become one of the city’s best literary venues.
Amos Hunt, editor of Grub Street Grackel, first brought his group of poets here shortly after it opened.
Hunt already has over 250 pieces for the winter edition of his local literary magazine. Compositions include poems, essays and some creative and satirical fiction. Once or twice a month the group comes to read original poetry at The Wild Detectives.
Smoke lingers with the poetry recitation. Some, in bombastic declamation, describe the unity of “soul, body, surfer” as a “heaving cosmology.” Others propose calm reflections on “neutral clouds” and “false faith in solidity of experience.”
One of the Bonehouse poets, Nadia Wolnisty, a 2012 graduate of the University of Dallas, has attended many events at The Wild Detectives. Last month the shop hosted the Cringe-Worthy Poets Collective, a group of traveling writers who stopped in Dallas. Wolnisty also attended a poetry reading by Dark Moon, an all-female group of poets in Dallas. Last week, the spot hosted the Ghost Scribes, a group highlighting the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Sipping his beer, The Wild Detectives General Manager Carlos Guajardo said that the shop tries to host events related to literature and fiction and to steer away from genre-specific works.
“[The bookstore] tries to find underrepresented titles that you wouldn’t find at your big box stores,” Guajardo said.
With one to three events per week, the place is popular both for national authors, and publishers, as well as local groups like the Bonehouse Poets.
Nestled in the Bishop Arts District, The Wild Detectives focuses on what its owners believe gives life experience and meaning. It was opened to foster conversations and bring people with similar interests together. If you meet someone new while at the shop and then go to get a drink, you can tell the barista or bartender and he will give your new friend a drink too — on the house
The encouragement is effective in attracting like-minded people.
Guajardo is aware of the literary culture emerging in Deep Ellum. He believes this is possible because people passionate about literature are coming together in places like The Wild Detectives. More homegrown groups are appearing and target a specific audience.
“It’s great that Dallas can sustain more than one venue like Wild Detectives,” Guajardo said.