Poetry for Southern California
Every poetry venue has its flavor, its attitude towards reading, its preferred style of poetry. This list is an attempt to capture the flavor of some of the major SoCal poetry venues, so as to help poets find local venues most suited to their style and taste.
G.. Murray Thomas and Terry McCarty provide their takes on their favorite local poetry venues. Do you have some of your own, not already listed? Let us know what makes them great venues. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest in submitting an essay. Note: This is not an invitation for every poetry host in SoCal to beg for inclusion of their venue. :)
This is my favorite reading in town. A combination of quality features, welcoming open, and a solid sense of humor (note the title), make this a great venue. Hosts Ben Trigg and Steve Ramirez believe in teaching by example: they give you the best poetry (via the features) they can, and a space to try out your own voice. Their hope is you will you use the combination to improve your own work. And when they notice such improvement, they will let you know.
Wednesday, 8 pm
Ugly Mug Caffé
261 N. Glassell
Similar to Two Idiots in ambition and execution. Host Jim Doane, Larry Colker and Stephanie Prodromides provide a lively show of top talent in their features, and, if anything, an even more welcoming open reading. Extra comfy seating -- lots of sofas -- is offset by extra distractions -- the blender in back and chatter outside leaking in.
1820 Catalina Ave.
Redondo Beach 90277
Certainly the largest open reading in town, Da Poetry Lounge regularly attracts 200 - 300 people every Tuesday night. It is hip-hop oriented, but the audience will give their support to any poet capable of connecting.
Greenway Court Theater
544 N. Fairfax Ave
This is a full-on open mike, with a two to one ratio of musicians to poets. Still, unlike some open mikes, the poets are welcomed, and recognized as a vital part of the night. Hosts Angie Evans and Alessandra (?) manage to emphasize expression as a vehicle for social change without getting too preachy about it. Viento y Agua is also a wonderful local coffeehouse, with great drinks and fascinating artwork on the walls.
3rd Tuesdays, 8 pm
Viento y Agua Coffeehouse
4007 East 4th St.
The granddaddy of SoCal poetry venues, Beyond Baroque is a full-service poetry venue. Open readings, featured readings, workshops, bookstore, it has it all. Free workshops (Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoon) have nurtured many major voices in the SoCal poetry. Featured readings on (mostly) weekend nights provide a stage for top talent, local and national. And a monthly open reading gives you a chance to share that stage. Now that they’ve renewed their lease, we can look forward to 25 more years of literary arts.
Open reading—1st Sunday, 5 pm
Free Workshops—Wednesday, 8 pm & Saturday 1:30 pm
681 Venice Blvd
Rick Lupert is the funniest host in SoCal (he may even be the funniest man in all SoCal poetry), so this reading is always entertaining. He gives you a generous seven minutes to do your thing, but he also keeps his eye on his watch; don’t try to sneak in an extra minute or two. A great venue for developing talent. The weekly “group poem” always ends the reading on... well, maybe not a high note, but certainly a memorable one.
Tuesday, 9 pm
22047 Sherman Way
Canoga Park 91303
Founded in 2000 by the late Jack Shafer and Pete Justus, the Rapp is a small-d democratic poetry venue where poets of various skill levels can feel comfortable reading poems old and new. The current rotation of hosts includes Mani Suri, Brenda Petrakos, Dave Nordling and Joe Camhi. Past features have included Sherman Pearl, Rick Lupert, Jim Doane, Marie Lecrivain (herself a former Rapp host) and Brendan Constantine. The Rapp is valuable for giving poets first-time feature experience -- increasing the diversity of poetic voices in the community.
Readings take place every Friday at 8:30 p.m. with signups at 8:00. Open mike time is seven minutes.
1436 2nd Street
(between Santa Monica Blvd. and Broadway; next door to the Buca Di Beppo restaurant)
Michael Slobotzky is a respected veteran host who is in charge of this Wednesday night predominately-open mike poetry/stand-up comedy/music event at the UnUrban Cafe in Santa Monica (located at Pico and Urban, with the famed McCabes Guitar Shop a couple of blocks west). The Velvet Guerrilla reading carries on the raucous tradition of the old Poetic License reading from the late 90s/early 00s, including a group poem, plus a one-minute-per-person "do whatever you like" bit that performers can opt to participate in. The number of performers signed up can vary from week-to-week, but the Velvet Guerrilla reading is especially recommended for the chance to see and hear Manuel Gallego -- one of the best (and funniest) practitioners of the art of monologue-as-story.
Readings are every Wednesday. Signups are between 8:00 and 8:25 p.m., with the reading starting around 8:30. If performers aren't able to sign up on the day of the reading, there is the option to go onto the Velvet Guerrilla website at http://www.velvetguerrilla.com and sign up in advance.
The Velvet Guerrilla blog is at http://blog.velvetguerrilla.com/
3301 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Don Kingfisher Campbell is one of the longest-running venue hosts in L.A. County. He's been a MVP of local poetry with accomplishments and beneficial service to other poets too numerous to list here (the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY POETRY QUARTERLY is just one example). In its current form, Saturday Afternoon Poetry is a mix of open readings, readings-with-feature(s), field trips to other readings/workshops and workshops such as Deep Critique and Emerging Urban Poets.
It takes place every Saturday between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. in the back room of the Santa Catalina branch of the Pasadena Public Library The field trips to other locations may begin at earlier times, so be sure to check their web site in advance.
The website for Saturday Afternoon Poetry is: http://saturdayafternoonpoetry.blogspot.com
999 E. Washington Blvd.