Open Mike Poetry Guide to Chicago

Looking for open mike poetry nights in Chicago? Here’s a handy guide of where to go each night of the week in Chicago.

The best advice I’ve ever heard is “phone first.” I’ll give you some tips on what to expect, but if you still have questions – say it with me – phone first!

So, here’s the deal – most slams are very informal, meaning there are no forms to fill out, no auditions to go through and no style or theme to stick to. At the Green Mill, slam participants come back week after week hoping to woo the crowd and win the grand prize – which is usually $5 bucks or a bus pass! But we all know they want to win for the recognition, not a prize! So when you get to whatever venue you choose and you want to speak, read or rhyme, just ask the bartender, host or even a fellow attendee about what you need to do. Usually you can give your name to the open mike host and he/she will call you up when they’re ready for you or it may even be as easy as Joy Blue’s “Yammer Zone,” where it’s more of a relaxed living room type setting where people raise their hands if they want to speak. It just depends. There are no clicks, no favorites and no “gotta know somebody” in order to perform. Just be yourself, take a deep breath and release whatever your heart is holding in. It’s just that easy.


Green Mill
4802 N. Broadway
The Mother of All Poetry Slams! Located in Historic Uptown near the Riviera and the Aragon, the famous Green Mill hosts the “Uptown Poetry Slam” every Sunday night from 7-10 pm, featuring open mike, special guests and an always lively slam competition. $6 at the door. 773-878-5552.

Funky Buddha Lounge
728 W. Grand
Who hasn’t heard of “Supa Soul Sundays” at the Funky Buddha? The Buddha features live Poetry and Jazz hosted by Mike Fulla Flava. Doors Open at 8 PM and admission is free. 312-666-1695


1555 N. Dayton
Every Monday night at 9 P.M. “Poetry Night” is hosted by Gregario Gomez and admission is free. 312-943-7815

The Blue Oasis
12947 S. Western
This spot may be a little out of the way, but it’s not what you might expect. Local poets you’d swear were professionals stop by for a night of Open-mike poetry reading. Every Monday night at 7 PM. Admission is free.


Chase Caf�©
7301 N. Sheridan
“Open Opus” every Tuesday Night from 8 p.m. to midnight. Admission is always free. 773-743-5650


1401-03 W. Irving Park
Local poet and author Lisa Hemminger presents: “Yammer Zone: A night of Poetry, Open Mike, and Entropy,” every Wednesday night at 9 PM on the corner of Southport and Irving. Admission is free. 773-477-3330

Caf�© Penelope
230 S. Ashland
Stop by for a night of rhyming, reading and spoken word every Wednesday night at 7 PM. “The Free Speech Network” is hosted by Elemental. $5. 312-243-3600


MoJoes Caf�©
2256 W. Roscoe
Thursday, October 9 at 7 PM, is the open reading, “Spoke ‘n’ Word. The space is small, but the dÃ?©cor is kitschy and it feels like grandma’s living room from back in the day. Excellent coffee, super friendly owner and patrons, and admission is free. 773-388-1236.


Coffee Chicago
5256 N. Boradway
John Starrs hosts Open Mike Poetry starting at 7:30 PM every Friday. $2 for open mike participants, $3 for all others. 773-784-1305

Gio’s Sports Bar
4857 N. Damen
On Friday, October 10th, poets, comedians & musicians will gather and strut their stuff for you. If you want to perform, show up at 8:30 p.m. to register. If you just want to watch, be there at 9 PM sharp. Every other Friday. Open Run. 773-334-0345


Swift Mansion
4500 S. Michigan
Every Saturday night from 10 PM to 1 AM, Kelli Rich presents the open mike night, “Some Like It Black.” The cost is $10, but free for participants. 773-374-2660

Christian Poets Society
1432 W. 87th Street
Coming up this Saturday, October 4th at “Room at the Cross Church,” – a serious open mike event open to dancers, poets, singers, mimes and hip-hop artists. Hosted by the Christian Poets Society, this event happens every first, third & fifth Saturday of the month. Admission is free; performances begin at 3 PM. 773-684-8058.

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