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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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BloomBars

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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.

Potter's House

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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

Hillyer Art Space

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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

Black Cat

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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

Busboys & Poets (Multiple Locations)

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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.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

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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

Capital Fringe

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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

D.C. Arts Center

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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

BloomBars

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.

Potter's House

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

Hillyer Art Space

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

Black Cat

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

Busboys & Poets (Multiple Locations)

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.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

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

Capital Fringe

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

D.C. Arts Center

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