Serving The World Poetry
2002 to 2012…
Bob Holman, founding editor of the NYC Poetry Calendar (1977-1982), program director of the St. Marks Poetry Project (1980-84), founding host of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe's Friday Night Slam (1989-1996), and one of the progenitors of digital poetry with The United States of Poetry, Poetry Spots, and Language Matters, opened the Bowery Poetry Club in 2002. Located at 308 Bowery, between Bleecker and Houston Streets in Manhattan's East Village, the BPC quickly became a popular meeting place for poets and artists of all genres.
While best-known for fresh talent and Open Mics that feature diversity, vitality and quality, Bowery Poetry Club has welcomed , many famous poets. Amiri Baraka had many readings and performances at the Club; the Ted Joans and Gregory Corso Praise Days were held here; Sharon Olds, Naomi Shihab Nye, Marie Howe, CD Wright, Jessica Hagedorn have all read here; Kenneth Koch, founding member of the NY School, gave his last reading at Bowery, and John Ashbery read here as well. Dr. John joined our Katrina Benefit. Beat poets Hettie Jones, Michael McClure, John Giorno, Margarte Randall and many, many others have settled in at the Bowery mic.
Taylor Mali's “Page Meets Stage” originated here, now being run with Mahogany Browne, and has featured Billy Collins, Terrence Hayes, Beau Sia, Amber Tamblyn and was the origination site of Sarah Kay and her V.O.I.C.E. Project. In ten years, Bowery Poetry Club garnered world renown (we're in bios, bucket-lists, book-jackets, films, and guidebooks) and became a must-hit stop on the international poetry circuit.
Everything Is Subject To Change
2013 to 2017…
All the PBR in the world couldn't keep the doors open and, in 2012, Bowery Poetry Club (version 1.0, as we affectionately refer to it) closed its doors: down for a moment, but not out. Holman learned the owners of Duane Park were looking to move their classy burlesque dinner cabaret to the neighborhood, the two populist arts centers decided to join forces and now Duane Park is open Tuesday-Saturday nights, and Bowery Poetry reemerges on Sunday, and Mondays. Burlesque was born on Manhattan's oldest street—the Bowery—and the Bowery Poetry Club continues the traditions of oral poetics that have made this neighborhood Poetry Central.
Holman, now Artistic Director, and the Board of Directors hired filmmaker/poet Nikhil Melnechuk and arts organizer Adam Horowitz to reopen the doors in Fall of 2013. The two crafted a siz-show/week schedule, and brought in a bevy of poets both familiar to the 'Club and new to it. Once things were running smoothly, Horowitz left to build the the United States Department of Arts and Culture, and Melnechuk continues to this day as Executive Director.
Continuing Holman's legacy of poetry filmmaking, Melnechuk joined forces with Melina Brown of the Radio Drama Network and Director Max Powers to produce Don't Be Nice, the foundational project of Bowery Poetry Studios.
The Place for Poets
2018 and beyond…
The Stage alone proved not enough in the digital era of the Screen, and in May of 2018 Melnechuk opened Bowery Poetry Studios on the third floor of 308 Bowery. The Studios produces film and television, and is an incubator for artists to gather to develop, film, record, and deliver films, livestreams, podcasts, and whatever new medias they can create.
Mason Granger joined the team as Director of Bowery Poetry, and is leading the constant effort to improve and expand community and signature shows at the 'Club and on tour, produce video and audio of poets in the community, and launch SlamFind Co-Op (coming soon), the digital place for poets and poetry organizations to release and profit from their media content.
Bowery Poetry has always been about radical inclisivity and wild creativity. It's the anti-organization organization that lives and breathes and shouts through the voices of its poets. This is to say: it's by, for, and about you. Have your say.