October 18, 2019

Best Places to Hear Poetry and Spoken Word North of Boston

by cns2020

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Poetry and spoken word are art forms the North Shore does well. There is a reason The Massachusetts Poetry Festival has made Salem its home during the years the organizers have held it. But if you’re a lover of the art form, you don’t have to wait until next May to hear the words your mind craves. There is poetry happening frequently if you just know where to look.

Here are some of the most probable, and some improbable, places to hear poetry on the North Shore. 

Walnut Street Café – Lynn 

One of the most beloved and highest attended poetry circles on the North Shore, the Walnut Street Café in Lynn regularly draws a crowd of poets, storytellers, comedians, local eccentrics, community activists, and overall creative people to their Wednesday Night Spoken Word Open Mic at 7:00 pm. Anybody is welcome to attend, whether to read or perform (all skill levels welcome) or listen. 


Improbable Places Poetry Tour 

Poetry in a parking garage? Poetry at a historic estate? Poetry in your back yard? Improbable Places Poetry Tour, a Montserrat College of Art project, brings together student writers, local poets, area businesses, and enthusiastic listeners to celebrate the power of poetry and community. They rove about monthly, performing in oddball venues where, oftentimes, poetry has never been performed before. This month, on Sunday, October 20th, they’ll be at the TunnelTeller installation at the Crane Estate in Ipswich! 

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The newest addition to Artists Row is the ChagallPAC and their brand new series of Salon-style Interdisciplinary Arts Cabaret. A community of artists committed to collaborating across the disciplines and exploring the ways we experience art, Chagall PAC plans to host a series of events featuring art, music, and the spoken word – often in combinations you wouldn’t expect. Diana Norma Szokolyai, co-founder of ChagallPAC alongside Dennis Shafer, is herself a literary artist and does what she can to promote poetry and spoken word in the North Shore community. 

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Zumi’s Cafe 

Zumi’s Espresso is an independently owned coffeehouse and ice cream bar based in Ipswich, MA, and home to a burgeoning poetry community north of Boston. On the third Saturday of every month from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Zumi invites poets, storytellers, comedians, and creative types of all skill levels to come and share their art with listeners. 


ReachArts Swampscott 

Featuring a kaleidoscopic line-up of poets, musicians, storytellers, and oddballs, ReachArts in Swampscott hosts a First Friday Open Mic that has gained a loyal local following. Each month, hosts Larry Power and Lee Eric Freedom invite newbies, seasoned performers, and all others (15 years or older) who wants to come to come and have way too much fun with a mic in hand. The next one is on November 1 at 7:00 pm, featuring the Jazz Poet of Lynn, Elizabeth Gordon McKim. 


Gulu Gulu Café’s Open Mic Night 

Heralded as the best weekly general open mic night north of Boston, the Triumphant Return of the Son of Gulu Gulu Open Mic Shindig, hosted by Lucas Custer and Brian Donnelly, is a carousing roundup of any genre performance you can think of: poets, comedians, beer and/or wine drinkers, roving fools and jesters, and general art appreciators all show up for the mayhem. The open mic is every Thursday at 8:00 pm.


The Cellar at Beverly Depot Restaurant

Beverly has its own poetry open mic at the Cellar every second Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm. Hosted by Linda Spolidero, the mic is poetry-focuses and the group encourages poets of all ages and sensibilities to come and make their voices heard. Sign up is each week at 7:00 pm. 


Amesbury Public Library 

The Amesbury Public Library hosts a poetry open mic every month. Each month has a different featured poet who starts the night out with 20-30 minutes of reading, followed by a short question-and-answer session with the featured poet. After they have read, poets attending the event can sign up to read their own works. 

The next event is on Tuesday, October 22 @ 6:00 pm. 

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Gloucester Writers Center

The Gloucester Writers Center hosts its spoken word open mic on the first Friday of the month. Poets, wordsmiths, and storytellers are invited to read and perform their works for the mic for 5 minutes each. All levels of experience are welcome.

A working writers’ center in a working town, the GWC is housed in the home of Gloucester’s first poet laureate, Vincent Ferrini.

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HC Media at Harbor Place

Haverhill’s River Bards are a group of local poets with a passion for shining a light on poetry, prose, spoken word, and other literary arts. For their 2019 poetry series, they have been hosting readings by fantastic published poets, followed by open mic readings. Open mic readings are limited to 3-5 minutes.

Their final event of the series is on November 1 @ 7:00 to 9:00 pm. 

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