A Poet’s Guide to Exploring L.A.
City of stars, Hollywood, La La Land…Are we living in the entertainment capital of the world, or just living in a bubble? Now, I love movies and films just as much as the next Angeleno; however, I think saying the city is only exceptional for its commitment to the silver screen would be selling Los Angeles (and its many artists) very short. As someone absolutely enraptured with writing, literature, and poetry, I think the poets in L.A. are deserving of a little praise and recognition. That being said, here are three phenomenal spots to find poetry in L.A. right now.
1. Da Poetry Lounge
Maybe you’re looking for a community of writers and poets. Maybe you’re looking to be inspired. Maybe you’re just looking for something to do on a Tuesday night. Or maybe, if you’re like me, you’re looking for words that change the way you visualize and conceptualize the world. At Da Poetry Lounge, you’ll find all of the above. The space is reminiscent of a black-box theater, with all the focus directed towards the center of the stage, and the poets who command it. Open mics happen on Tuesday nights from 9pm-12am, with the exception of 3rd Tuesdays, which feature a poetry slam. Anyone can perform, but the docket fills up fast, so if you want to perform you’d do best to be there early. If you’re just an audience member, bring yourself (open mind required, and empathy highly recommended) and prepare to be deeply inspired.
Where and When: 544 N Fairfax Ave., Tuesday nights
2. Tuesday Night Project
Tuesday night, it seems, is prime time for the artists of Los Angeles. Just as DPL holds their open mic nights every Tuesday, so too does the Tuesday Night Project. Located in Little Tokyo, TNP focuses specifically on highlighting the work of Asian-American artists, whether it be poetry and spoken word, live music, or dance. All this artistry is put onstage at Tuesday Night Café in Aratani Courtyard. Again, it’s best to be there early: crowds can be large, which is great for community building, but not always so good for finding seating. Open mics are every first and third Tuesday, and if you can’t make it in person don’t worry: they also host a livestream of the event on their website. Whether you show up in person or express your support over the internet, be ready for an amazing evening.
Where and When: Aratani Courtyard/Union Center for the Arts, Tuesday Nights
3. Beyond Baroque
Established in 1968, Beyond Baroque stands out as not only the oldest venue on this list, but also the venue with the largest variety of offerings. Yes, there are open mics where anybody can perform their work, but there are also a variety of readings and panels highlighting poets and authors not only from within the city, but all around the country. Most importantly, there is a poetry workshop every Wednesday night for any Angeleno trying to put their thoughts into poetic form, or just looking to receive feedback from fellow writers. Located near Venice Beach, Beyond Baroque is a good place to hone your craft and write your own work, but equally suited for hearing from those working, creating, and making a living within the world of literature and poetry. Plus, if you are a sucker for a good bookstore like I am (my to-read list is miles long, and yet I still keep buying more books), there’s one on site so you can take a bit of literature home with you.
Where and When: 681 Venice Blvd., Calendar of events here
Honorable Mention: The Last Bookstore
Is it even possible to write about literature and poetry in L.A. without mentioning this gorgeous bookstore? Located in the middle of downtown, it houses a pantheon of phenomenal books, and also plays host to a number of events every month. Ye be warned: if you’re looking for open mic nights, this might not be the right place, but readings, events featuring authors from around the country, and book clubs abound. Show up early to explore the upstairs labyrinth (and maybe snag a pic for the ‘gram) and stay afterwards to be re-inspired by the written word.
Where and When: 453 S Spring St., events tend to start around 7:30pm.
Do you have any poetry spots around Los Angeles that we missed? Comment below!