For the past fifty-three years, The Poetry Project has been holding readings in Saint Marks Church on 131 East 10th Street. The schedule varies, but the general rhythm goes: Emerging Poets on Mondays, Established Poets on Wednesdays, and Mixed-Genre Poets on Friday. They also host open mics. Past poets include Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, William S. Burroughs, John Ashberry, Audre Lorde, Diane di Prima. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Eileen Myles, and Ishmael Reed. The atmosphere remains decisively low-key. Entrance is through the back door of the church. A card table with books of poetry for sale also stocks free zines. Admission is eight dollars, or five for Pratt students. Stick around to help put away the folding chairs for a chance to chat with regulars, many of whom have been attending readings for decades.
Afterward, you may find yourself hungrily wandering the Bowery. Do not despair. Otto’s Tacos, on 141 Second Avenue, is open until midnight. The street tacos ($3.75 each) are lovingly charred, the portions of Guacamole are generous, and the Masa fries, served with a smoky chipotle mayo-type dip, are exactly what you’ll need after having your mind renovated by some avant-garde verse.
Pro Tip: Napkins. Unless you’d like to christen Clair Donato’s chapbook with taco drippings.
Photo by Aaron Cohen