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Mary Bowman, spoken word artist from Suitland, Maryland, performs at the 46th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.
Mary Bowman, spoken word artist from Suitland, Maryland, performs at the 46th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.
Photo via Elvert Barnes

D.C.'s best poetry and spoken word locations

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Mary Bowman, spoken word artist from Suitland, Maryland, performs at the 46th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.
| Photo via Elvert Barnes

Poetry enthusiasts, rejoice! Finally, there is a map that will guide your way to the locations you've been looking for, locations that offer a space for spoken word and poetry readings. From Busboys & Poets to the Black Cat, see what the nation's capital has to offer for those in love with all things rhythmic, rhyming, and related to literature.

All of the locations have been listed geographically, from the most northwest to the most southeast.

Were there any locations left off this map? Let Curbed know by leaving a comment below.

[UPDATE: The D.C. Arts Center was added.]

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1. BloomBars

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3222 11th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
This non-profit in Columbia Heights was established in 2008. Along with poetry readings, it also hosts open mic nights, puppet shows, and samba classes.

2. Potter's House

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1658 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
This non-profit cafe, bookstore, and community space is located in Adams Morgan and has been located in this location since 1960. Here, there are a variety of events, not exclusive to poetry and book readings. There are also improv comedy shows, yoga events, and networking groups that meet here.

A post shared by Whitney Johnson (@whitneycat) on

3. Hillyer Art Space

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9 Hillyer Ct NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
This art gallery in Dupont Circle is mostly focused on the visual arts rather than performances. Despite this, visitors can still expect to find poetry readings every now and then. To learn about the next poetry event, go to their calendar here.

A post shared by Jill[ian] Zavacky (@jill.zz) on

4. Black Cat

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1811 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Along with showcasing indie-pop artists, hip hop artists, and even Dr. Who happy hours, the Black Cat also sometimes hosts spoken word artists.
Photo via Mike Katzif

5. Busboys & Poets (Multiple Locations)

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1025 5th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
On Mondays, an open mic is held in Busboys & Poets’s Shirlington and Brookland locations. On Tuesdays, the open mic is held at the 2021 14th Street NW location. On Wednesdays, an open mic is held at the 1025 5th Street NW location. On Thursdays, there is an open mic for poetry held in Hyattsville.

6. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

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901 G St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
At the moment, the MLK Library is closed for renovations, so don’t expect any spoken word at the site for now. For those still interested in seeing what the D.C. Poetry Workshop Group is up to, be sure to check out their Meetup page for any details on when a new location is chosen.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/David Monack

7. Capital Fringe

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1358 Florida Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
The Fringe theater offers a myriad of performances every year, from dances to comedy to music. Sometimes, they also host spoken word performances. Be sure to keep an eye out on their calendar for the next one.
Photo via Sarah H

8. D.C. Arts Center

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2438 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 462-7833
Since it was founded in 1989, the D.C. Arts Center has been a hub of creativity in the D.C. area. It offers a 42-seat black box theater as well as an 800-square-foot gallery. Artists of all types are able to share their works in this venue, from painters to performance artists to poets. To learn more about poetry events in particular, be sure to check out their events calendar here.

A post shared by DC Arts Center (@dcartscenter) on

1. BloomBars

3222 11th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
This non-profit in Columbia Heights was established in 2008. Along with poetry readings, it also hosts open mic nights, puppet shows, and samba classes.
3222 11th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

2. Potter's House

1658 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
This non-profit cafe, bookstore, and community space is located in Adams Morgan and has been located in this location since 1960. Here, there are a variety of events, not exclusive to poetry and book readings. There are also improv comedy shows, yoga events, and networking groups that meet here.

A post shared by Whitney Johnson (@whitneycat) on

1658 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

3. Hillyer Art Space

9 Hillyer Ct NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
This art gallery in Dupont Circle is mostly focused on the visual arts rather than performances. Despite this, visitors can still expect to find poetry readings every now and then. To learn about the next poetry event, go to their calendar here.

A post shared by Jill[ian] Zavacky (@jill.zz) on

9 Hillyer Ct NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

4. Black Cat

1811 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Photo via Mike Katzif
Along with showcasing indie-pop artists, hip hop artists, and even Dr. Who happy hours, the Black Cat also sometimes hosts spoken word artists.
1811 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

5. Busboys & Poets (Multiple Locations)

1025 5th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
On Mondays, an open mic is held in Busboys & Poets’s Shirlington and Brookland locations. On Tuesdays, the open mic is held at the 2021 14th Street NW location. On Wednesdays, an open mic is held at the 1025 5th Street NW location. On Thursdays, there is an open mic for poetry held in Hyattsville.
1025 5th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

6. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

901 G St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/David Monack
At the moment, the MLK Library is closed for renovations, so don’t expect any spoken word at the site for now. For those still interested in seeing what the D.C. Poetry Workshop Group is up to, be sure to check out their Meetup page for any details on when a new location is chosen.
901 G St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

7. Capital Fringe

1358 Florida Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Photo via Sarah H
The Fringe theater offers a myriad of performances every year, from dances to comedy to music. Sometimes, they also host spoken word performances. Be sure to keep an eye out on their calendar for the next one.
1358 Florida Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

8. D.C. Arts Center

2438 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Since it was founded in 1989, the D.C. Arts Center has been a hub of creativity in the D.C. area. It offers a 42-seat black box theater as well as an 800-square-foot gallery. Artists of all types are able to share their works in this venue, from painters to performance artists to poets. To learn more about poetry events in particular, be sure to check out their events calendar here.

A post shared by DC Arts Center (@dcartscenter) on

2438 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009