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Best Venues For Spoken Word And Poetry Readings In Tampa

In celebration of National Poetry Month, two competitions invite poets, venues rock with youthful spoken word performance art, and groups for professional writers share the joy of this emotive genre of literature.

Call For Poets - Poetry Competitions

The Sixth Annual Jacaranda Poetry Festival
Pasco Arts Council
5744 Moog Road
Holiday, FL  34690
(727) 845-7322
Contact: Laura G. Knox,

Public Hours: Tues to Thurs -9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fri to Sat -9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sun to Mon -Closed

Ann Larsen and Laura Knox
Ann Larsen and Laura Knox (credit: Sarah Dees)

The Pasco Arts Council is a nonprofit organization established in 1979 by the Pasco Board of County Commissioners. Two opportunities for the public are offered by the Pasco Arts Council (PAC), as Jacaranda Poetry Competition, with an April 6, 2012 postmark deadline for submission of entries. Last year's winning poetry is published on the PAC web site, where the winning poetry remains published for one year. View the site for submission guidelines.

The Jacaranda Poetry Reading
Pasco Arts Council Art Center (adjacent to the Pasco Arts Council)
5744 Moog Road
Holiday, FL  34690
(727) 845-7322

Price: Admission is free and the building is handicapped accessible.
Hours: Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 1 p.m.

All Jacaranda Poetry entries are reviewed by a panel of professional judges and cash prize awards will be announced at the Jacaranda Poetry Reading on April 28. In addition to the award presentations, this event provides a forum for entrants or others to read their work to a public audience. All are welcome to come and enjoy an afternoon of poetry, tea and sweets.

The 20th Annual Southern Fried Poetry Slam 2012

Hosted by Sacred Sounds Saturdays
Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse
4819 E Busch Blvd. # 104
Tampa, FL 33617-6096
(813) 983-0837

Price: Free Monthly Poetry Open Mic, Feature, and Slam Series
Hours: 9 p.m. Saturdays, Every 3rd Saturday of the month
Southern Fried Poetry Slam: In Ybor City (Tampa, FL)  June 6 - 9, 2012

This Regional Spoken Word Competition has grown to be the world's second largest adult poetry competition, last year hosting 36 teams representing different cities from all across the U.S.The competition is set to host over 150 poets to compete for thousands of dollars in prize money. The 2011 Southern Fried was hosted in Atlanta, GA and for the first time in many years, the home team (Java Monkey) went away with the Grand Prize. George Yamazawa, known as "G" was the winner of the individual portion of this brilliant competition. The group is now looking forward to 2012, and invite all of the contestants back to compete again while celebrating two decades of Southern style and tradition.

Spoken Word Performance Art

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa, Hosted by LIFE
Club Atlanta
1701 N. Franklin St.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 810-3582
Price: $6 before 9:30 pm, $7 after 9:30 pm
Hours: Doors open 8 p.m. every Tuesday

Excellent food, two for one drinks until 9 p.m. and $5 drinks all night sets the stage for an electrifying experience. People note that gifted young artists at this venue are truly captivating, and that the open mic night gave them a needed escape from the stress of daily life. Li Fe Malcolm, who produces and promotes spoken word shows, hosts artists including Kevin Sandbloom, Mathew "Cuban" Hernandez, Louis Conphliction, See Hopewell, Sunni Patterson and Seven SoulJones.

Studio 620
Studio 620 (credit: Sarah Dees)

PAM: Poetry - Art - Music
The Studio@620
620 First Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 895-6620, Coralette,
Price: Admission $5 at the door
Horus: Tues and Sat -Noon to 4 p.m.
PAM: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

Come downtown to the heart of St. Petersburg's 600 Block artistic venue, where poets are urged to express their lyrics in the Studio@620 at the PAM: Poetry, Art, Music events. Presenters are able to give about a five minute recitation on a first come, first serve basis - they sign up as they arrive for the open mic, live art and music. The Studio is opening space to create an environment for artistic expression where artists, musicians, poets and free-thinkers can come and participate in collective creation. The walls of the studio are featured as an open canvas for visual artists and the mic is open for musicians and poets.

Josh Brown, Director PAM
Josh Brown, Director PAM (credit: Sarah Dees)

Groups for Professional Writers

Poetry Group of the Tampa Writers Alliance  
Barnes & Noble Booksellers (Carrollwood)
11802 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33618
(813) 962-6446

Price: After visiting for an evening or two for free, poets are welcome to join the group as members.
Hours: Last Thursday of every month 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Writers gather toward the back of the store and ables are pushed together to create enough room to accommodate the people in attendance, usually from 12 to 20 poets. Somebody always has a poem ready to read to break the ice at the Poetry Group of the Tampa Writers Alliance. It might be Rich Reardon, whose work often sounds humorous, or Margie Rassle, who dedicates much of her poetry to events she experienced in Cuba as a child. Lula Dovi writes with flashes of a bright new vantage point, and Ken Clanton sometimes hints of some Irish myth. Warner Conarton may reflect on early infatuations, insights and unrequited love, while a long diatribe, a spoof, a lament or a burst of anger may be read by J. Maille.

They go around the table clock-wise, usually reading three or four poems each. This is not really a critique group, it's more like an appreciative family with plenty of laughter and occasionally a pause, or a thoughtful silence when somebody stops a heartbeat. Anyone shy about presenting their work aloud would be advised to start here. There's never a negative note, just lots of fun, warmth and understanding.

The Alliance also offers a newsletter and a writers critique group, (not poetry), sharing their submissions by e-mail. Writing is not read aloud, but submissions are discussed live, and commented on. The group also holds general monthly meetings and numerous other events.

The Bay Area Professional Writers Guild
Panera Bread
Plaza 10801 Starkey Road
Largo, FL 33777
(727) 363-7531, Steve Traiman, President

Price: Admission is free to any freelance non-fiction writer
Hours: Fourth Monday of each month at 1 p.m.

After Bay Area Professional Writers Guild meetings, most of the writers stay on for lunch and networking with the speaker. Some of the members write poetry and fiction, and most are writers or authors for print or online publications, or with non-fiction topic books.

  • Speaker March 26: Shelby Isaacson, of NuChapter Marketing, Innovative Grass Root Marketing Method For Authors, offering some good insight on Marketing Tactics for Self-Published and Small Press Authors.
  • Speaker April 23: Michelle Passoff,  The author of LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter (HarperPerennial) and founder of her clutter consultant business in 1991, will present "Free Yourself From Clutter!" She'll offer tips on how to lighten up and create the space for [writing] miracles by freeing yourself from too much stuff in your life.

The Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, now in its 26th year, is the only Tampa Bay writers group whose members are all professional freelance non-fiction writers. This writers' network includes freelance nonfiction writers with a demonstrated track record in their fields, professional credentials, and high standards for ethics and quality.

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Sarah Dees is an accomplished artist, writer, educator, and entrepreneur, with over twenty-five years of professional experience. Sarah attended Eckerd College for two years, and graduated with a BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York City. She is a freelance writer in Tampa Bay. Her work can be found at

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