Things are always changing, events come and go, but here’s an introduction to the spoken-word and slam poetry scene in the Twin Cities. This is not a comprehensive list, just a starting point. Be sure to check out the individual websites, as some dates, times and locations are subject to change. Dive in!
Soap Boxing Poetry Slam
One of the top slams in the country, the team representing Soap Boxing has been crowned National Poetry Slam champions two years in a row (2009 and 2010). Every first Monday of the month in downtown St. Paul; location just changed from the Artists' Quarter to CAMP Bar. 7:30pm sign-up, 8pm show (there’s also an open mic on the other, non-slam Mondays). www.soap-boxing.com, FB page.
Slam MN Poetry Slam
This is Minneapolis’ monthly slam, another big, popular event. Every fourth Tuesday of the month at Kieran’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis; 7:30pm sign-up, 8pm show. www.slammn.org for the slam, and www.wordsprout.org for the umbrella organization that runs other shows too.
Soul Sounds Open Mic (all ages)
Sponsored by the St. Paul Almanac and hosted by Tish Jones, this open mic is intimate and supportive, with optional feedback from the audience. Every Thursday at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul, 6pm. This one will continue into 2013, but check the website for exact details.
The Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series (teens)
This is a series of slams and workshops working toward an end goal of picking a team to represent Minnesota at the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam tournament. Schedule and details at the link. Also be sure to check out the TruArtSpeaks site for more.
Freedom of Xpression Open Mic (all ages)
Emerging artists of all ages are invited to take part in the Capri Theater’s monthly Freedom of Xpression open mic sessions, held the first Monday of every month. Hosted by Crystal “Azteca” Ruiz, Freedom of Xpression showcases the talent of performing artists in all genres, including music, spoken word/poetry, dance and more! The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and participating artists are encouraged to arrive early to sign up and to rehearse on stage. Artists wanting to perform on stage are required to sign up between 5:30 and 6 p.m. the night of the event. Website link.
Poetry for Thought (all ages)
A newer space, but a very intentional space for people to hear poetry and actually have discussions about it. First Fridays at various locations but based at Groundswell Coffee in St. Paul. Check out their FB page for more info and an exact schedule.
Urban Speaks (all ages)
Another newer open mic in town, this one is hosted by the very talented Keno Evol. Last Fridays of the month at Cafe Southside (3405 Chicago Ave. S). Link w/ more info.
OUTspoken Queer Open Mic
And another new open mic in town; "OUTspoken! is the Twin Cities' queer open mic. We empower queer voices and identities by building community through artistic expression. All are welcome!" Every second Wednesday at the Fox Egg Gallery. Link w/ more info.
Poet’s Groove Open Mic
One of the longest-running weekly events in town, the Poet’s Groove is an open mic founded by Desdamona that features a dynamite live band. Every Tuesday at the Blue Nile in Minneapolis; 10pm sign-up, 11pm show. www.bluenilempls.com
Voices Merging (all ages)
The biggest ongoing open mic in the Twin Cities, Voices Merging is a University of Minnesota-based event, but is open to anyone. Every second and fourth Monday of the month (8pm), though the dates and locations change with the school year schedule. www.voicesmerging.webs.com
College Slams and Open Mics (all ages)
Hamline, Macalester, the U of MN, MCTC and Carleton all have regular slams or open mics that are big and fun. Other colleges and universities in town probably do as well. I linked to the ones I could find, but a quick google or Facebook search should turn something up for your school. And usually, you don't have to be a student to watch the show or even sign up to perform.
The Canvas’ Speak On It! Teen Open Mic (all ages, teen-focused)
An open mic for poets, singers, rappers and performers, Speak On It! is open to teens and young adults. Every last Thursday of the month at the Canvas teen arts center in St. Paul; 5:30pm sign-up, 6pm show. Canvas also has a regular teen writing circle. www.canvas651.com
Word Ninjas Open Mic
This is the Rockstar Storytellers’ monthly open mic at Kieran’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis that takes place every second Tuesday of the month at 8:30pm. www.rockstarstorytellers.com/word-ninjas
This is a slam-style show for storytellers, featuring different story topics each month. Every first Tuesday of the month at Kieran’s Pub, 7pm doors, 8pm show. www.slammn.org/storyslammn.org/Home.html
Equilibrium at the Loft Literary Center (all ages)
This isn’t an open mic, but it’s one of the best ongoing spoken-word series in the Twin Cities. EQ highlights spoken-word artists of color. www.loft.org/equilibrium-spoken-word
BALLS is an experimental cabaret open to artists of any and all disciplines at any and all levels of experience; every Saturday night at midnight at the Southern Theater.
Stepping Stone Theater Youth Open Mic (all ages)
Open to youth ages 13-18. Second Saturdays this year (2013-2014; will update later): 10/12, 11/9, 2/8, 4/12, 5/10. Link for more info on sign-up, times, etc..
Punch Out Poetry All-Women’s Slam (all ages)
The newest slam on the scene, POP is open to any female-identified person, though anyone is welcome to show up and watch. Currently on hiatus. www.punchoutpoetry.wordpress.com
Other events and organizations you should know about:
~Word Sprout is an organization that organizes lots of spoken-word and storytelling events: www.wordsprout.org
~Intermedia Arts often has spoken-word events and programs: www.intermediaarts.org
~The Minnesota Spoken-Word Association works with youth and organizes a teachers’ institute for spoken-word educators plus much more: www.mnspokenword.com
~The Rockstar Storytellers and Northstar Storytellers put on storytelling shows and competitions: www.rockstarstorytellers.com and www.northstarstorytelling.org.
~The Encyclopedia Show is a themed reading that is always a lot of fun: www.slammn.org/encyclopediashow.
~Button Poetry is an organization devoted to distribution opportunities for spoken-word artists. www.buttonpoetry.com
~Fifth Element offers a semi-regular open mic for hip hop artists. www.fifthelementonline.com/blogs/fifth-element
~The St. Paul Almanac hosts regular themed readings that are definitely worth checking out. www.saintpaulalmanac.org.
~Finally, there are, have been, and will be a ton of other open mics in town, including the Cafe Southside mic, ICE (Innovative Community Elevation), Souls on Display, the South City Café open mic and many more. Some are ongoing, some are on hiatus and some will only last for a given amount of time. This list is a starting point, but with a little research, you can discover all kinds of opportunities for both performance and listening. Good luck!