Boston's best open mics and poetry nights
Blacksmith House Poetry Series
Since 1973, this reading series has featured both established and emerging poets, as well as a few fiction and nonfiction authors. The site has rich poetic roots; the historic house and the chestnut tree just outside were the inspiration for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1839 poem, “The Village Blacksmith.” Mondays @ 8pm, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 56 Brattle Street, Cambridge (617-547-6789, ccae.org/events/blacksmith.html). $3.
The Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge
Downstairs at this Cambridge dive, you can bust a rhyme at one of the country’s longest-running slams. Sign-ups for the 8pm open mic start at 7:15; arrive early to snag a 3-minute spot. Afterward, stick around for a reading by a featured poet and the main event: an open slam (recent theme: Head-to-Head Haikus). Wednesdays @ 8pm, 738 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. (617-354-2685, slamnews.com). Free.
Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam
The vibe is sultry at this spoken word night, where readers are accompanied by improvisational jazz, courtesy of the Jeff Robinson Trio. A slam featuring the venue’s home team kicks off the night at 7:30pm, followed by a reading by a local poet and open mic at 9pm. Wow the crowd and your track could wind up on a Poetry Jam Collective CD. Sundays @ 7:30pm, 1667 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. (617-547-0759, poetryjam.org). $5.
Chapter and Verse
Curated by poetry collective Jamaica Pond Poets, this monthly series favors local flavor, highlighting the work of published poets and writers from Eastern Mass. Each reading is followed by a reception and book-signing, where you can nosh on refreshments and chat up the literati. First Friday of the month @ 7:30pm, Loring-Greenough House, 12 South Street, Jamaica Plain. (617-524-3158, jamaicapondpoets.com). $5 suggested donation.
Breakwater Reading Series
Ever wonder what Emily Dickinson was like at 25? The fame and wealth of a career in poetry are hopefully just around the corner for the fledgling Breakwater poets, all of whom are currently earning their M.F.A.s at either Emerson College or UMass-Boston. Third Friday of the month @ 7pm, Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard Street, Brookline. (617-566-6660, breakwaterreadingseries.blogspot.com). Free.
Poetry Reading Series at Boston University
Expect established A-list readers and a packed house; in recent years, the likes of Jorie Graham, Marilyn Hacker and Robert Pinsky have graced the BU stage. First Thursday of the month @ 5pm, Boston University, College of General Studies, 871 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (bu.edu/cgs/poetry-reading-series) Free.
SPORADIC (but worth following)
Small Animal Project Reading Series
This series, now in its second year, invites emerging writers from all literary genres (poetry, fiction and nonfiction) to read their work in an intimate setting (seriously intimate; the venue capacity is 25). Schedule varies; check website for details, Outpost 186, 186 1/2 Hampshire St, Cambridge. (617-876-0860, smallanimalproject.com). Free.
Pierre Menard Gallery
This gallery space also hosts book parties and readings sponsored by small presses and indie bookstores like the nearby Grolier Poetry Library. The programming is diverse and international in scope, and there’s something literary going on most nights of the week. Schedule varies; check website for details, Pierre Menard Gallery, 10 Arrow St, Cambridge (617-868-2033, pierremenardgallery.com). Free.
New England Poetry Club
The NEPC tends to host one reading per month, often on Monday evenings. During the summer, events are held outdoors, on the East Lawn of the Longfellow National Historic Site in Harvard Square. Schedule varies; check website for details, Harvard-Yenching Common Room 136, 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge. (617-744-6034, nepoetryclub.org). Free.
The Poetic Justice Series
This series is sponsored by the Grolier Poetry Library and appropriately held in the former Charles Steet jail, which is now, ironically, a luxury hotel. 6:30pm readings are followed by an open mic; reservations are accepted via e-mail (email@example.com). Schedule varies; check website for details, The Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles Street, Boston. (617-547-4648, grolierpoetrybookshop.org). Free.