Shakespeare & Co. bookstore is now closed, but the poetry scene in Philly continues to flourish. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

For lovers of poetry and the literary-minded, Philly has much to offer.

Though Center City recently saw the closure of several established book stores, including the beloved Joseph Fox Bookshop, there has in the rest of the city been an indie bookshop revival, particularly in the River Wards. Aside from just selling books, many of these host author conversations, book clubs, and writer’s workshops.

Philly is also rich with literary history exhibits, such as the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site and America’s only Black Writers Museum. And there are event spaces for creative collaboration, such as Philly Create Studios.

For a way to meet people who share your appreciation, and hone or present your own work, check out this list of monthly or weekly happenings in Philly’s literary scene.

Philly Pigeon: The Late(ish) Poetry Show 

Every First Friday, PhilaMOCA hosts the Late(ish) Poetry Show, where local poets, comedians, and music artists share their talents in front of “the livest audience this side of the Delaware”.

For anyone who wants to participate in the two-hour open mic, all that’s required is to sign up by 8 p.m., bring a poem that’s three minutes or less — and maybe have a sense of adventure.

A guaranteed seat at the Eraserhood venue (531 N. 12th St.) is $20-$25 in advance, or pay $15 at the door for general admission ($10 with student ID). 

Voices in Power: Poetry Open Mic Experience

Have an experience you feel compelled to share? A poem that only comes alive when performed in front of a crowd? This open mic night could be the perfect outlet to speak your truth.

Voices in Power is a group that says it curates the experience with one goal: to create diverse, inclusive spaces for like-minded individuals to connect and express themselves.

Events are held every First Saturday and Third Tuesday, with hundreds turning out for poetry, live art, vendors, food, drinks, and games. Things kick off at 6 p.m., with the open mic at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30; location varies.

Drexel’s Late Night Series

Every Thursday, Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design hosts an open mic event in University City called the Late Night Series

It’s a free student-run platform that’s open to both student artists and local performers. So whether you’re a part-time poet still in school, an upstart comedian still working for laughs, or a theater kid who just has to act out their favorite monologue, this could be the stage for you.

The event is open to all ages and is located at the Creese Commuter Lounge on campus (at 32 and Chestnut Streets). Performers must sign up for a five-minute slot by 8 p.m. for the 8:30 show.

Penn’s Speakeasy Open Mic

Every First Wednesday the Kelly’s Writers House hosts the Speakeasy Open Mic Night. “Poetry, prose, anything goes,” is the motto, with musicians and dancers encouraged to attend. 

Anyone can go up to the podium and read their poem, share their flash fiction, or perform a music number — as long as it doesn’t run over three minutes.

The free student-run event takes place at 3805 Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania campus starting at 7:30 p.m. You can attend in person or livestream on YouTube.

Mad Poets First Wednesdays

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself an artist, or you’re not ready to share your most personal thoughts with the world. Every First Wednesday, the Mad Poets Society invites a poet or a group to speak, followed by an open mic session.

It’s a chance for poetry lovers and aspiring poets to hear professionals give life to the written word, and an opportunity to ask artists about their craft.

The event is free and starts at 7 p.m. In-person events take place at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, Pa, (about a half-hour west of Philly in Delaware County). Virtual events take place over Zoom.

Live poetry nights at Fergie’s Pub

Center City’s Moonstone Arts Center hosts live poetry nights every First Wednesday at Fergie’s Pub. The lineup regularly includes accomplished poets doing interviews and live readings.

It’s free to attend the monthly events, which usually start at 6:30 or 7 p.m. You can register to watch over Zoom or just show up to 1214 Sansom St. and grab a pint or two while you partake in the poetry. (It’s fun, take it from the Billy Penn team.)

Thursdays on the Stoop

If you’re an aspiring poet or prose writer seeking a sense of togetherness, The Blue Stoop was formed for you. The nonprofit community-focused literary project prides itself in “radical inclusivity.”

The weekly “Thursdays on the Stoop” events bring live readings with professional writers and craft workshops hosted by scholars and poets. All events are free, usually begin at 4 p.m., and take place virtually over Zoom.

Sit & Write with Julian Shendelman

Seeking a designated time and space to get some writing done? Sit & Write is a free virtual event hosted by Julian Shendelman that occurs most Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To access it, you must sign up for Shendelman’s weekly newsletter.

Attendees can expect about 2.5 hours to silently write, while the last 15 or so minutes are for conversations about writing. The group is small (usually 5-15 people a session) but diverse in background, genre-preference, and experience. This means it’s a great opportunity to exchange work and really connect with other local writers.

Sherlock Mondays

This one’s for fans of the most famous crime detective of all time — and really, the author who brought him to life. 

As part of its Biblioventure series, Philly’s Rosenbach museum and library is hosting Sherlock Mondays nearly every week through the end of next April. The free virtual event features a conversation with a host and special guest about a different one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
You can join live every Monday at 7:00 p.m. or watch replays on the Rosenbach YouTube channel.