NEPA Literary Events

Local writer Harold Jenkins has been doing a wonderful job keeping up with all of the literary events happening in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, and on the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writer’s Collective blog, he posted a list of events happening throughout the rest of February. I thought I’d share because the more people that hear about these events, the better. I also want to note that I’m doing a featured reading on Friday, Feb. 28 at The Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. I’ll be reading some new poems and from my latest collection, All That Remains. There’s an open mic, too. Sign-ups start at 6:30, and the event begins at 7.

Here’s a list of the other events:

Thursday, February 20 – Scranton
Third Thursday Open Mic Poetry Night at the Vintage, 326 Spruce Street, sponsored by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers Collective! Sign-ups begin at 8:00, poetry at 8:30, hosted by K.K. Gordan. This is a free event, but donations to support the Vintage are encouraged and appreciated.

Friday, February 21 – Wilkes-Barre
Third Friday Spoken Word Event W. Featured Performers MOCK SUN! at Art Seen On The Square, 21 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre. Open Mic plus special musical feature Mock Sun, hosted by Special Guest M.C. Alex Devirgilis. Sign-ups begin at 7:30, readings begin at 8:00.

Sunday, February 16 and Sunday, February 23 – Stroudsburg
Every Sunday features the Open Mic at the Living Room, 522 Main Street in Stroudsburg, next to the Sherman Theater. Sign-ups begin at 6:30, performances at 7:00.

Friday, February 28 – Scranton
The fifth edition of Kick Out the Bottom Open Voice Poetry Reading at Embassy Vinyl in Scranton, hosted by Charwonica Dziwozony. Limited to thirteen readers, signups begin at 6:45, poetry begins at 7:00. The event is BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair.

Friday, February 28 – Tunkhannock
Open Mic Night at the Dietrich Theater, 60 E Tioga Street, Tunkhannock. Featuring Brian Fanelli. Sign-ups begin at 6:30, performances at 7:00. Open to audiences and performers of all types. Poet Brian Fanelli will be reading from his new book All That Remains. Call the Dietrich at 570-996-1500 for details. Hosted by Laurel Radzieski.

Saturday, March 1 – Scranton

Writers’ Showcase at the Vintage, 7 p.m., featuring Laura Duda, Jeff Rath, Kevin McDonough, Amanda J. Bradley, and Le Hinton. Free, but donations to The Vintage encouraged and appreciated. Hosted by Brian Fanelli and Jason Lucarelli.

In Praise of Open Mics

When I was 18 years old and a freshman at West Chester University, I desperately wanted to become a writer, and I was fortunate to find a local literary community. Every Wednesday, I attended the open mic night at Fernarrio Coffee Shop, which provided a space for me to share my work with an audience that gave me helpful feedback, long before I had a clue how to craft a decent extended metaphor and where to break a line. This series was especially unique because it featured jazz musicians, Bob Dylan wannabes, and poets all sharing the stage. The first time I took the stage, I read too fast, stumbled over a few lines, and griped the paper until it wrinkled, but the more I did it, the easier it became. For four years, even after I took a bunch of creative writing classes, I continued attending local open mics. They made me confident in my work and eventually prepared me for doing my own featured readings.

Recently, some open mics have started in northeastern, PA. One occurs the last Wednesday of every month at the Library Express at the Steamtown Mall. It starts at 6:30 p.m., and so far, we’ve had a nice mix of college and high school students. I hope they continue attending as a way to revise their work and gain confidence.

The other open mic I know of takes place the third Friday of every month at ArtSeen Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. It begins at 8 p.m.

If you are just starting out, or even if you’re a polished writer, attend the open mics in your community as a way to share your work and support other writers. If you know of a local open mic, please spread the word.