NYC: The Poetry Brothel’s Top Spots for Poets

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The Poetry Brothel, produced by The Poetry Society of New York, is a conceptual group that presents poets as characters—or “high courtesans,” as they say. The Brothel aims to take poetry outside the classroom and lecture hall and “place it in the lush interiors of a bordello.” Made up of a cast of “Whores” who put on innovative events staged to feel like the fin-de-siècle brothels in New Orleans and Paris, this band of poets strives to evoke the avant-garde movements and French Symbolists of the 19th century. The poets act as whores, calling their audience their “Johns” and, as you can imagine, the events are not your Mother’s poetry readings. Their next event isn’t until January 23rd at The Back Room (invite below), but the group has offered up a list of their favorite nightlife places where poets can bide their time until then. Here is the Poetry Brothel’s top places to live the poet’s life: places where poetry is inspired, where poets hang out, or maybe where one can find the ghosts poets past.

1) The Back Room – as much as we hate to plug our own venue (not really, we’re whores), Sunday nights at The Back Room are the best nights to meet poets, listen to poetry, talk about poetry, and be inspired to write poetry, because all those things are exactly what we at The Poetry Brothel aim to do.

2) The Brooklyn Bridge – I don’t know about you, but most of the poets I know are broke half the time. (See Mike Todd’s famous quote: “I’ve never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.”) Grab a flask of homemade absinthe, a moleskin journal, and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; you’ll be seeing ghosts and writing poems in no time. If you’re feeling friendly, you’ll probably also run into a few Walt Whitman fanatics.

3) Goodbye Blue Monday – It’s a bar, coffee shop, art gallery, antique store, music venue, etc, with an artist-in-residence at all times. They have poetry readings most Friday nights (The Stain of Poetry) and some other nights throughout the week. The decor is as bizarre as the clientele, a mix of weirdo and beautiful poets, musicians and visual artists. Good times.

4) KGB Bar – Hosts literary readings almost every night throughout the week, and on Monday nights they’re always good. Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman started the Monday night reading series there back in the early 90’s, and since then, it’s become somewhat of a literary mecca. If you want to hear award-winning poets in an intimate setting, KGB is the place to do it. Get there early. It’s small and fills up fast.

5) Cafe Loup – On Tuesday and Wednesday nights particularly, Cafe Loup is the place to go to meet up-and-coming poets. Professors and students alike in MFA programs at the New School and NYU go there after class to drink and mingle with each other in a more informal setting. In addition, many of the major readings throughout the year (Best American Poetry, National Book Critics Circle Awards, National Book Award) take place at the New School Auditorium (which is a block away from Loup), and Cafe Loup is always the after-party destination.

Runners up include: Bowery Poetry Club Chelsea Hotel Battery Park City Raines Law Room Rose Live Music

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