5 Queer Poetry Slams and Open Mics From Coast to Coast

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Good Evening Ladies and Gentleman and people who don’t subscribe to the gender binary. Today is August 5, 2014 and THIS is a poetry slam!

So began my 2014 Autostraddle article on the National Poetry Slam, which was presented that year in Oakland, Ca. That year went down as one of the queerest ever as they introduced multiple queer open mics and workshops to their programming schedule. It seemed that the slam poets were using poetry to perfectly take on gender and talk about their experiences as queer people. Slam Legend Missy Fuego summed up how poetry is the perfect weapon to take on gender. “Poetry is all about deconstructing,” she said. “And gender is a social construct. So it’s only right that we use that.”

While I was checking out the Gender Outlaws Open Mic, I met a few Bay Area Straddlers that planted an interesting seed in my mind: what if there was an Autostraddle slam team?

Well, because of some of the slam team requirements it’s not possible for us to send an AS team to NPS but that doesn’t mean we can’t get together and slam!! So this year at camp I will be hosting our first Unofficial But Totally Official A-Camp Poetry Slam!

The fact that we can’t scoop up every single AS poet and take them to the mountain made me so sad that I thought it would be great to roundup some awesome queer open mics and poetry slams. I talked to some of the best queer poets nationwide and these are some of the dope places they listed that were dedicated to providing a safe place for queer folks to slam.

SF Bay Area

The Bay Area is loaded with queer open mics!

Oakland Queer Open Mic-Pass the Mic Tuesdays
Tuesdays 6:30pm to 9:30pm
440 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

Oakland’s Queer Open Mic with Hosts Kin Folkz and Blackberri. Sign-ups begin at 6 p.m., sharing begins at 6:30 p.m.

San Francisco Queer Open Mic
4th Friday of Every Month
Modern Times Bookstore
2919 24th St. San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco Queer Open Mic has been open micing like a rockstar since 2004 and is currently hosted by Baruch Porras-Hernandez with the help of his Amazing Co-host Blythe Baldwin. It is held at the legendary Modern Times Bookstore.

Culture Fuck!!
3rd Friday of Each Month
Qulture Collective
1714 Franklin St, Oakland, CA

Hosted by Jezebel Delilah X and Annah Anti-Palindrome Culture Fuck is a feminist, anti-racist performance space for radical outcasts, passionate queers, gender liberators, intellectual non-conformists, and everyone else who loves to break rules and subvert social propriety.

**Shoutout to the All-New Busboys & Poets: Oakland that will be opening soon and is sure to bring some new, fresh and amazing open mics to The Bay!

New York City

Union Square Slam
Every Monday: Writing Workshop 6-7pm/ Open Mic 7:30pm
Bureau of General Services-Queer Division at the LGBT Center
208 W 13th St. New York, NY

Started on January 12th, 2015, Union Square Slam is NYC’s newest reading series and slam. Join us each Monday at the Bureau of General Services – Queer Division at the LGBT Center near Union Square for an open mic, a free workshop, and special events including visiting readers, local features, and poetry slams!

Washington DC

Sparkle DC
Sundays 8pm to 10pm
Busboys & Poets
2021 14th St NW, Washington DC

Sparkle is queer-driven open mic for all. Co-hosted by Regie Cabico and Danielle Evennou, Sparkle houses a unique community of queer writers and allies.

These are only few of the spaces that feature queer slam teams or queer featured artists. If we didn’t feature your favorite queer poetry spot drop their information in the comments!!

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Carolyn Wysinger

Carolyn Wysinger is a thirty something masculine of center womyn from Richmond, Ca. She is a writer & Social Entrepreneur. She earned her B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach and her M.F.A. from Antioch University. She has served on the steering committees for BUTCHVoices and Black Lesbians United. She is a board member of the NIA Collective for same-gender loving women of African Descent. Her first book Knockturnal Emissions: Thoughts on #race #sexuality #gender & #community is currently available on Glover Lane Press. Twitter: @knockturnalpro Instagram: theknockturnalproject

Carolyn has written 8 articles for us.


  1. Just throwing it out there but how about we talk about your international fans … AKA US AUSSIES!!! Give us a bit of lovin! We don’t all live in America..

  2. As another queer poet I feel obligated to rep my local open mic/slam—Slam Free or Die in Manchester NH isn’t exclusively/explicitly a queer slam, but I feel totally confident in saying a majority of us are queer af.

    Every Thursday night
    Milly’s Tavern, 500 Commercial St Manchester NH 03101
    Doors at 7pm, Open Mic usually gets started around 8:30ish
    $3 cover

  3. All the snaps for this post! I am a spoken word poet in Seattle and highly recommend coming out to Rain City Slam! It is super queer and one of my queer/trans safe spaces.

  4. I have no queer slams to suggest, but I highly recommend the Pink Door Women’s Poetry Retreat, a legit and low-cost multi-day retreat that is only for women and/or gender nonconforming writers of color. It’s hosted by queer badass and noted poet and competitive slammer, Rachel McKibbins, in Rochester, NY.

  5. In Paris I host Self-ish, a women, trans and non-binary open mic (facebook.com/selfishopenmic). I’m also coming to the US and trying to host it there in February 2019!

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