Homer didn’t write the Odyssey. He spoke it. In the great tradition of our Greek storytelling ancestor, and countless unknown tellers of tales who have in all likelihood been doing so since we first sat around campfires in front of caves, thousands of New Yorkers continue to speak stories to rapt listeners today.
For the most part, the campfires are gone, but if you know where to look these myth-creators are alive and well.
Writer Gordon Gilbert has put together a detailed list of gathering places where spoken word is performed. Gordon, who can be contacted here, is a writer of fiction, poetry, and monologues. He is also the author of a play, Monologues from the Old Folks Home.
Beginning February, Gilbert is reviving a series of spoken word events dedicated to the Beats at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village: February 20th – Allen Ginsberg; March 20 – Jack Kerouac; April 30 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti; May 15 – Lenore Kandel.
We are grateful he has provided us with the below, powerful list.
Cornelia Street. Cafe: They have literary events almost every night at 6 pm. Admission cost varies, usually $8 to $15, often includes drink (house wine, beer), My favorites have been:
- Kat Georges‘ poetry events which are usually (but not always) just once a month on a Friday (usually the first Friday of the month) and often (but not always) no open mic.
- Tulis McCall’s Monologues & Madness first Monday every month not an open mic; you sign up with Tulis ahead of time to be a monologue reader (no one memorizes, you get 4 minutes). Must be a MONOLOGUE, not memoir, essay, etc. Participants should bring 2 guests to support the venue
- Bob Quatrone’s 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse a poetry event every couple of months with invited readers and a limited open mic.
- From Whitman to Ginsberg: Poems that Challenge Conventional Wisdom Bernard Block, host five features, no open mic Three times a year: a Friday in February, May, and September (check the Cornelia Street Cafe website calendar). If you wish to receive announcements of his events, contact Block here.
- Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, Amy Barone, hosts two features and an open mic second Saturday every month, but alternating between the Cornelia Street Cafe and the Sidewalk Café.
- IAWA-West @ Cornelia St. Cafe, 5:45 (sign up for open mic at 5:30). IAWA-East @ Sidewalk Café, 5:30 pm (sign up for open mic at 5). For more information: go to www.iawa.net to see the newsletter for detailed listings or visit here and like them on Facebook or you may contact Amy Barone at 646-942-4972.
The Inspired Word presented by Mike Geffner. Founded and produced by longtime New York City journalist and former Village Voice columnist Geffner. The Inspired Word is one of the hottest open mic/performance series (spoken word, poetry, comedy, music, storytelling) in the country, happening every week in Manhattan and Queens, New York City. See more here. The venues/shows:
- The Parkside Lounge, 317 East Houston Street, Manhattan, New York. Open mic (for poets, comedians, singers/musicians, storytellers). EVERY MONDAY night 7-11pm AGE LIMIT: 21+
- Funkadelic Studios, 209 West 40th Street, corner of 7th Avenue, 5th Floor, Manhattan, New York. Open mic (for poets, comedians, singers/musicians, storytellers) EVERY TUESDAY night 7-11pm. No age limit. Open mic (for poets, comedians, singers/musicians, storytellers). The 1st TWO FRIDAY nights of EVERY month 7-11pm. No age limit.
- COFFEE’D, 37-18 Northern Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens, New York, open mic (for poets, comedians, singers/musicians, storytellers). EVERY WEDNESDAY night 7-11pm. No age limit
- The Gallery at LPR (Le Poisson Rouge), 158 Bleecker Street (between Sullivan and Thompson), Manhattan, New York. Titillating Tongues: NYC Erotica in Poetry & Prose, open mic. EVERY 3rd FRIDAY night of the month 7-9:30pm. AGE LIMIT 21+. We Heart NYC Writers + Open Mic. EVERY 4th FRIDAY night of the month. 7-9:30pm. AGE LIMIT 21+
- Mike also hosts unique events like book launches and one-person shows. You can buy your tickets at the door, but I advise buying ahead of time online. Why buy online ahead of time? If you do it early enough sometimes you can take advantage of special deals to save a few bucks and sometimes bring free (no admission charged) 1 or 2 nonperforming guests.
The Sidewalk Café: Avenue A & East 6th Street, 212-473-7373.
- Every Monday: The Open Stage with Ben Krieger, NYC’s longest running open mic, All Performing Arts Welcome Sign-up: 7:30pm. No Cover.
- Every Tuesday: Poetry Slam hosted by Urbana! Sign-up: 6:30pm, open mic at 7:00, feature at 7:45, and Slam at 8:15. or complete details: UrbanaPoetrySlam.com
- 2nd Saturdays, alternating with Cornelia Street Cafe: Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, Amy Barone, hosts features and an open mic, 5 pm sign-up, 5:30 pm start.
They have many other events, so check out their calendar here.
NuyoRican Poets Cafe: 236 East 3rd Street (between Avenues A & B), 212-780-9386/212-505-8183 “A cultural icon on New York’s Lower East Side since 1973” A very full calendar! Check them out here.
KGB Bar: 85 East 4th Street, 212-505-3360. Many literary events; don’t know about open mics. Also an online lit mag, takes submissions.
Also, you should contact these hosts for regularly held events to get on their email distribution lists for announcements:
- Tract 187 Culture Clatch: The West End, 955 West End Avenue @ 107th Street, #1 train to 103rd Street) features an open mic 1st and 3rd Wednesdays every month, 7 pm, $10 + Happy Hour two drink minimum. Contact host Ronnie Norpel here.
- Saturn Series: Shades of Green, Union Square, 125 East 15th Street, 212.674.1394 features and an open mic (5 minutes). Mondays, 8 pm, sign up for open mic at 7:45 pm, $3 donation requested, plus a beverage or dessert to support the venue. Contact host Su Polo here.
- STARK REALITY: Studio 353, 353 W48th Street, 2nd floor (bet. 8th & 9th Aves), 646 270 8824. Featured speakers and open mic: poetry, spoken word, singers and performance art. 2nd and 4th Fridays. Sign-up at 7 pm. Hosted by Viviana Grell, who can be contacted here.
- The Green Pavilion Poetry Event: The Green Pavillion, 4307 18th Ave in Brooklyn (take the “F” train to 18th Ave station; it’s half a block away). Featured speakers and an open mic last Wednesday of the month, unless there’s a holiday, 7 pm, small donations requested, order food and/or drinks to keep venue happy. Hosted by Evie Ivy, who can be contacted here here. Evie also publishes a Green Pavilion anthology once every few years, and produces a performance program (usually a few times each year) called Dance of the Word, with belly-dancing, music and poetry.
- Zev Torres organizes regular poetry events that go from location to location, drinking and reading aloud, often on the street. Contact Zev here.
- Kairos Poetry Cafe: St. John’s Church, 81 Christopher St (near 7th Ave), 212-242-5737 www.stjohnsnyc.org. Featured speakers and an open mic, 3rd Sundays, 2 pm plus special events small donations requested (first place I ever read publicly!). Contact host Alan Baxter here.
- Brownstone Poets: Park Plaza Restaurant, 220 Cadman Plaza West (near Clark Street and Pineapple Walk). Brooklyn, NY 11201. 718 – 596 – 5900. Subways: the A or C to High Street, 2 or 3 to Clark Street or the R to Court Street or the 4 or 5 to Borough Hall. First Saturday of the month, featured speakers and an open mic, 2:30 pm, $4 Donation plus food/drink. Contact host Patricia Carragon here. Patricia also does a Brownstone Poets anthology at least once a year.
- Nomad’s Choir: 353 STUDIOS, 353 W. 48th Street, 2nd floor (bet. 8th & 9th Aves) features and an open mic second Saturdays 4 pm $3 donation. Contact host Josh Meander here. Josh also puts out a seasonal anthology of Nomad’s Choir
- Great Weather for Media: The Parkside Lounge, 317 E Houston, corner of Attorney Street, features and an open mic, Sundays, 4-6 pm, two drink minimum. These 4 rotate the job of hosting this event: Thomas Fucalaro, David Lawton, Russ Green, and George Wallace. Also check out the organization here. “Great weather for MEDIA is an independent press based in New York City and focusing on the unpredictable, the fearless, the bright, the dark, and the innovative…” They also take submissions for their regularly published anthologies.
- Angela Peluso hosts events (usually 3) in summer and early fall at the bandshell in Central Park features and an open mic, mostly poetry. Contact her here.
- Anthony Vigorito hosts 2 monthly events in Brooklyn:
- Boulevard Bards: Boulevard Books and Café, 7518 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (Dyker Heights), features and an open mic, second Wednesday of the month, 7 pm.
- Brooklyn Poetry Outreach: Barnes & Noble, 7th Avenue and 6th Street, Brooklyn, New York (Park Slope) features and an open mic, last Thursday of the month, 6:30 pm. Anthony can be contacted here.
- Phoenix Reading Series: Left Bank Books, 17 8th Avenue, features and an open mic, Sundays, 6:30 pm, $5 donation. Contact host Michael Graves here.
- Puma Perl’s current venture is Puma Perl’s Pandemonium, which combines poetry and rock n roll, and includes a quarterly show at the Bowery Electric; she also co-produces on a regular basis at the Sidewalk Café and other downtown venues. Contact Puma here.
- Rimes of the Ancient Mariner: in the Basement Lounge at Three of Cups, 83 1st Ave at 5th Street, 212-388-0059, four features and an open mic (15 slots). Host Phillip Giambri’s (The Ancient Mariner’s) focus is on featuring the best performance poets, writers, monologists, memoirists, barroom bards, and storytellers, he can find. Although he himself is a great storyteller, Phillip chooses not to read at his own events. Events are the last Wednesday each month, 6 pm sign-up for open mic, show begins at 6:30 pm, must be 21 or older, $7 admission. *** Three of Cups has great Italian food! *** Phillip can be reached here.
- The Salon: Meets in Rev. Anoek van Praag’s apartment, 352 West 110 Street, 646-559-8206/512-658-7588(cell). Meet with other artists and share your work-in-progress. Anyone is welcome. If you want to present, please let Anoek know. You will have 15 minutes total. Anoek has a DVD player, a TV and an electric piano. Trains: C on the corner; 1, 2 & 3 are a seven minute walk. When: usually an evening during the last weekend of the month. Must RSVP, space is limited. Rev. van Praag, is a counselor who specializes in trauma, and (chronic) pain, StoryWorks, poetry. Rev. Anoek can be reached here.
- Jane LeCroy is a wonderful poet/songwriter who fronts the avant-pop band The Icebergs. Jane performs with other performance artists at various locations. Worth seeing/hearing! Ask her to put you on her announcement list. (She always includes a great new poem in her announcements!). Contact Jane here.
- The Irish American Writers & Artists Salons: First Tuesdays at Bar Thalia, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025 (At W95th Street) 3rd Tuesdays at 338 W. 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011 (Between 8th and 9th Aves) Hosted by John Kearns, refreshments provided, generous donations suggested, no open mic, but really good writing and performance! If you are a member and would like to give a presentation of up to ten minutes at a Salon, email John Kearns here. To learn more about becoming a member, and to see the 2015 Salon Calendar, and much more information about the organization and what else it does, go to their website here. You can read commentary with photos of past salon programs here.
- Christopher Street Coffeehouse: St. John’s Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher Street (near 7th Avenue), 212 242 5737, 2nd Thursdays, 7 pm open mic, sometimes a feature (spoken word,poetry,comedy, music, singer/songwriters).
- Bloom Readings: The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens, West 183rd Street and Pinehurst Avenue, Washington Heights (Manhattan), Sarah Van Arsdale, chair, Peter Bricklebank, Joan Greenbaum, Lola Koundakjian, Laura Shapiro, Don Wilen. Contact Sarah here. Programs feature cutting edge writing from established and break-out writers usually no open mic Sundays, 5 pm $7 includes wine and light fare. Programs this spring on: February 1st, March 1st, April 5th, May 3rd and May 24th. For more information regarding features, directions and how to get on their mailing list.
Programs & Venues in northern New Jersey
- The Williams Readings: The William Carlos Williams Center, One Williams Plaza, Rutherford, NJ 07070, 201-939-6969. Hosts features and an open mic with generous reading times, no admission, first Wednesdays, 7 pm. Hosts: John Barrale, Claudia Serea, Zorida Mohammed, Don Zirilli. John can be contacted here.
- The North Jersey Series (NJLS): Classic Quiche Café, 330 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, New Jersey, 201-692-0150, 4th Saturdays,7 pm, $10 minimum, good food, coffee & tea, feature(s) and an open mic. Hosted by Paul Nash and Denise La Neve. They can be contacted here.
- Thursdays Are for Poetry: Teaneck General Store, 502A Cedar Lane, Teaneck, New Jersey, 07666, 201-530-5046, 3rd Thursdays, features, and an open mic. $6.00 covers donation and Fair Trade Coffee. The event is hosted by Alice Twombly, who can be contacted here.
Programs & Venues on Long Island
- George Wallace hosts a poetry reading on the 3rd Friday of every month at 8 pm at the Huntington Poetry Barn, 2 High Street, Huntington NY 11743 (corner New York Avenue and High Street). Features monthly open mic, $6 suggested donation. Contact George here.
- While out there, you should visit the place where Walt Whitman was born: Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station NY 11746. They have regular tours, and many special events, such as the annual Super Poem Sunday, a Super Bowl Alternative for Poets. It is a poetry slam, with cash prizes 3 minutes to read (memorization not required). Held in the afternoon, so football fans can still get home in time to watch the Super Bowl.