Where to listen and perform poetry in Philly

The Green Line Cafe hosts an intimate West Philly gathering.

Philadelphia’s poetry community, though one of the most active in the nation, is an intimate hub of activity. Gathered in corner cafes and local jazz clubs, it’s a hidden but buzzing scene of open mics, readings, slams, feature performances and writing workshops. Whether you prefer spoken word or Shakespear­ean sonnets, there’s an ideal place for your poetry fix.

Coffee After Dark
Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.
Wired Beans Cafe
6734 Germantown Ave.
$5 admission, $3 for performers
Inspired by host Darius Lantz’s experiences as a Starbucks barista, Coffee After Dark features performers in every genre, from spoken word and song to comedy and storytelling.  The Wired Beans Cafe serves its complete menu and offers free Wi-Fi during the event, always anticipating a full house.
 
Green Line Poetry Series
Third Tuesdays, 7 p.m.
Green Line Cafe, 4426 Locust St.
Free admission
Curated by renowned local poet Leonard Gontarek, this monthly series invites one or two poets to present their work in a neighborhood-friendly atmosphere. The poetry reading is coupled with audience participation in a discussion of the poet’s craft and writing life. Now in its third year, the series has become a cornerstone for West Philadelphia’s creative community. March 20’s reading will bring Philadelphia local Iain Haley Pollock to the stage.  Winner of the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Pollock is also a teacher, serving as the Distinguished Faculty Chair of English at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.  

The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam
First Fridays, 8:30 p.m.
Media Bureau Studios
725 N. Fourth St.
$10 admission; students with I.D., two for $10
This monthly event fuses every dimension of the poetry scene, featuring writing workshops, an out-of-town feature poet, a local spotlight poet and a three-round elimination competition. Found­ed and hosted by poet-activist Aleysha Wise and Philadelphia inaugural slam team member Jacob Winterstein, the slam has attracted competitors and winners of the National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam and The Women of the World Poetry Slam since its debut last December. (The venue may change in April; updates can be found on the event’s Facebook page.)

Jus’ Words
Thursdays, 10 p.m.
Dowling’s Palace
1310 N. Broad St.
$5 admission
Now in its ninth year, Jus’ Words is Philadelphia’s longest-running weekly open mic series.  It’s also one of the largest, frequently attracting over 100 audience members. Though words are more than welcome, the title is slightly deceiving — the series draws not only poets, but also solo musicians, bands, emcees and stand-up comedians to the diverse stage.


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