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Venues Draw Poets, Musicians To Open Mics

Sponsoring groups welcome a wide variety of voices

Mike Dinkela and Susan Dipert perform at a recent open mic night at Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios, 2500 Sutton Blvd. in Maplewood. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
July 01, 2011
St. Louis has a growing number of venues that allow wordsmiths and musicians an audience for performance and self-expression.

At 8 p.m. on a Wednesday evening at Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios, about a dozen people gather in the free library room of the Maplewood coffee house. There are three or four musicians, a handful of poets and a couple of people there only to listen.

The usual emcee, John Bernardy, is missing this night along with the mic. But a regular participant steps in and the show goes on. And the venue is small enough that the microphone isn't really necessary. Stone Spiral owner Doug Kassabaum sips a Schlafly and listens from the adjoining room.

Some Wednesdays, most seats are taken. Often there is some new talent that takes your breath away. This is a pretty quiet night, but regulars celebrate the comfortable, laid-back performance venue.

"Open mic" events usually only require the musician or poet to show up, sign up and abide by whatever time constraints the sponsoring group requests. St. Louis Writers Guild open mic events include prose, but not music. Segments of a writer's novel-in-progress or topical articles or short stories may be out of place at many of the other open mics.

Some events, like Poems, Pints and Prose at Dressel's Public House, feature a wide variety of voices, but those need to be scheduled in advance with the group leader. River Styx, Hungry Young Poets and Chance Operations all have scheduled readings on Mondays at Duff's Restaurant, 392 N. Euclid Ave. A few of these include limited reading opportunities for unscheduled poets.

Following is a listing of open mics of which we are aware that fit roughly within the central corridor of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

St. Louis Writers Guild sponsors two open mics each month. At 7 p.m., on the second Tuesday of the month is a "family-friendly" open mic at The Highlands, 105 E. Jefferson Ave. in Kirkwood. On the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m., the Guild hosts "Writing to the Edge" in the Eliot Room at the Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust Street, downtown.

Foam, a coffee house on Jefferson Avenue at Cherokee Street, stages an open mic every Wednesday at 9 p.m. Mostly music, but poetry welcome.

Legacy Books & Cafe, 5249 Delmar, just east of Union Boulevard, hosts a spoken word event every Friday night from 9 p.m. to midnight. Slam, free verse, hip hop and a back up band. For more info, Google or phone 361-2182.

Hartford Coffee Company, Hartford and Roger Place just south of Tower Grove Park, has an open mic for music and spoken word each Friday evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Not Just a Bookstore, 4507 Manchester at Taylor, has poetry and spoken word events from 7 to 10 p.m. on some Fridays and Saturdays. Call 531-5900 for exact schedule.

Remnants of the old Soulard Culture Squad have a spoken word open mic every other Tuesday at Crossroads, 7th and Ann avenues. Lenny Smith emcees. July 12 and 26 are the next two scheduled dates.

St. Louis Poetry Slam meets at 8 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Ave. in Maplewood. Entry fees and cash prizes.

Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios, 2500 Sutton Ave. in Maplewood, hosts an open mic each Wednesday evening. Starts around 7:30 p.m., poetry and music. Listed on www.meetup.com.

Cafe Nura at 117 E. Lockwood in Webster Groves hosts a poetry and music open mic on the last Friday of each month. Starts at 8 p.m.

Dwight Bitikofer is publisher of the West End Word and currently serves on the boards of St. Louis Poetry Center and St. Louis Writers Guild.

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