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Weekly open mics around Columbus give poets an outlet

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A poet performs at Writing Wrongs at Ruby Tuesday on Summit St. Credit: Courtesy of Ethan Rivera

A poet performs at Writing Wrongs at Ruby Tuesday on Summit St. Credit: Courtesy of Ethan Rivera

Poetry open mics give opportunity for poets searching for an underground outlet, or someone just interested in being part of a small, artistic community. With open mics almost every night of the week, Columbus offers a range of options for poets to show off their work.

The Poetry Forum

The longest running poetry series in Columbus, The Poetry Forum at Bossy Grrls Pin-Up Joint, offers a featured reader followed by open mic each Monday at 7 p.m.

A small, dimly-lit venue, Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint is known for its pin-up theme. A refurbished couch, chairs and a decopaged tables fill the space and ladies’ undergarments hang from the chandeliers.

The Poetry Forum was founded in 1984 by a group of Columbus poetry lovers. It branched out from the Poetry in the Park event at the Park of Roses in Clintonville in an effort to bring more poetry to the city of Columbus, according to its website. The forum bounced around to a few campus-area locations before settling at Bossy Grrls in 2012.

The Poetry Forum meets at 7 p.m. on Mondays at 2598 N. High St. Admission is free.

Writing Wrongs

Ruby Tuesday has been a part of the Columbus community since 1973 and hosted music as long as it has been around. Writing Wrongs Poetry Slam has catered to literary lovers for almost a decade.

Writing Wrongs is a weekly open mic and slam series on Tuesday nights dedicated to building a safe and supportive space for people to share their work, said Ohio State graduate Ethan Rivera, the Slam Master and host of the event.

Since 2008, people of different races, genders and ages have piled into the bar tucked into the corner of Summit St. and 19th Avenue. Doors open at 8 p.m. but the excitement doesn’t start until the open mic at 8:30 p.m.

“We believe that our space is built on our community sharing their work with each other,” Rivera said. “So, no matter what else we are doing that night, whether it be a slam or feature, we always want to make sure we prioritize that the open mic is going to happen.”

But the open mic isn’t the only attraction.

Writing Wrongs also brings in featured poets from across the country to keep fueling writers with new sources of inspiration, Rivera said. He added that he is extremely selective with features, and promises to bring in not only reputable voices, but poets who are also amazing human beings.

Writing Wrongs is a Poetry Slam, Inc.-certified slam competition that sends representatives to the National Poetry Slam, Women of the World Poetry Slam and Individual World Poetry Slam every year. Rivera said he hopes to foster an environment of both competitiveness and supportiveness.

“Poetry really is a non-contact sport when it comes down to it,” Rivera said. “So while somebody might do an amazing poem, it doesn’t mean that your poem doesn’t have a space on that stage. Yes, it’s a competition, but this is also your poem and your space and your ability to do it, so don’t let anything else get in the way. We want to make sure our stories are heard.”

Admission is $5 at the door and $3 with a valid student ID.

Writers’ Block Poetry Night

Writers’ Block Poetry Night takes over the intimate and book-filled Kafe Kerouac every Wednesday, packing it wall-to-wall with poets from all walks of life.

Co-founder of the program, Scott Woods, doesn’t let anyone walk into Writers’ Block unnoticed. He boasts an irreverent show by cracking crude jokes and making fun of audience members.

“Our open mic is a little different than others. I make fun of the poets, I make fun of their poems, I make fun of the audience,” Woods said. “Everybody kind of gets the joke. We’re all ultimately there for the poetry, but the humor is what feeds into a full experience.”

Doors open for Writer’s Block at 8 p.m. at Kafe Kerouac at 2250 N. High St. Admission is $5.

The Ness Open Mic Experience

The Ness Open Mic Experience always promises more than poetry. Host John Gibson even refers to this weekly event as “what happens when poetry meets party.”

Every Thursday night, a diverse and lively audience takes over The Lincoln Cafe. Presided over by DJ Dommy Styles from radio station Power 107.5, Gibson said it isn’t a surprise when open mics turn into dance parties.

Gibson said he wanted to bring “newness,” “freshness” and “dopeness” to the Columbus poetry scene. The show’s name was created upon realizing all those words end in “-ness.” He said the attendees are mainly members of the Columbus art community, but Gibson hopes more college students will stumble in.

“College students and college poets bring a certain energy,” Gibson said. “As a poet, and I’ve been performing for 12 years, I can’t duplicate that energy they bring.”

Poetry parties at Lincoln Cafe are every Thursday at 740 E. Long St. Admission is $5 at the door and $3 with a valid student ID.

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