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Madison has poets and we here know it

Where can a local poet read, or listen, or write? We offer some suggestions and are having a poetry contest, too.

A pile of poetry books, including works by Pablo Neruda and Dante with a journal for poetry writing.jpg

There are a plethora of events, open mics, and resources for local poets. | Photo by 608today

Roses are red, violets are blue, there are a lot of poets in Madison. Is one of them you?

The Madison area is one of the best places for poetry in the state. There are events, open mics, and organizations to make it great.

Whether you’re an amateur first putting pen to paper, or a published veteran who has become a culture shaper, the city’s poetic soul can be found in coffee shops and art gallery halls; lecture spaces and pinned to college room walls.

Let this be a resource to keep local literate types abreast and keep reading to learn of a 608today poetry contest.


2024 Winter Festival of Poetry
Arts + Literature Laboratory, 111 S. Livingston St., Ste. 100, Madison

All readings begin at 2:00 p.m.

Jan. 28 | Flying Through The Air
C. Kubasta, Sarah Sadie, Rachel Werner, Jenelle Clausen, Kristian Iliev, Nathan J. Reid

Feb. 4 | Waltzing With Bears
Kara Candito, Matt Guenette, Mark Kraushaar, Michelle Seaman, Catherine Jagoe, Carrie Voigt Schonhoff

Feb. 11 | Just Clowning Around
Amanda Reavey, Heather Swan, Rusty Russell, B. D. Vess, Katrin Talbot, Sara Parrell

Feb. 18 | Music In The Air
Roman Montemorano, Cynthia Marie Hoffman, R. B. Simon, Shoshauna Shy, Ronnie Hess, Alison Townsend

Feb. 25 | Riding The Elephant
Joe Lutz, Olga Trubetskoy, F. J. Bergmann, Brenda Lempp, Kimberly A. Blanchette, J. Zachary Rothstein

Mar. 3 | Lady On A Horse
Charles Edward Payne, Cristina Norcross, Donna Carnes, Beth Ann Workmaster, Cristin Jacque, Tim Walsh

Mar. 10 | Magic Tricks
Sujash Purna, Christine Reding, Fabu, Andrea Musher, Diego Alegria, Paul Baker, Andrei Codrescu


Feb. 21 | International Mother Language Day Reading
| Virtual | 7-8:30 p.m.
Join other Wisconsinites for a reading of poetry done in native languages.

Apr. 18 | 2024 Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellows Reading | Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St. | 7 p.m.
A poetry and fiction reading featuring work by Elijah Bean, Sadia Hassan, Gothataone Moeng, Mandy Moe Pwint Tu, and Ada Zhang.

Open mics

The interior of Java Cat, a coffee house in Madison. There are cozy tables, warm windows, and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling.JPG

Java Cat Coffee House has regular open mic nights. | Photo by 608today

A Room of One’s Own Bookstore, 2717 Atwood Ave., Madison
A queer and trans open mic the last Wednesday of the month. The next will be on Feb. 28.

Cargo Coffee, 750 E. Washington Ave., Madison
First and third Sundays of the month.

Java Cat Coffee, 4221 Lien Rd., Madison
Sundays. Call for coming dates.

Mickey’s Tavern, 1524 Williamson St., Madison
Every Sunday at 10 p.m.

Mom’s Bar, 614 University Ave., Madison
Mondays. Call for coming dates.

Mother Fools Coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson St., Madison
The next open mic is Friday, Jan. 26.


Madison Public Library
Offers writing assistance, writer salons, and special events.

Madison Writers’ Studio
Brings MFA-level writing instruction to an intimate workshop setting.

UW-Madison Creative Writing
Students, fellows, graduates, and staff participate in a myriad of local events.

Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of Wisconsin’s poets.

Books of poetry including 100 best-loved poems and an open book of poetry highlighting Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee.jpg

608today is having a poetry contest that’s totally legit. What will you, dear poet, submit? | Photo by 608today

Love poem to Madison contest

Coming soon is Valentine’s Day, so let’s have a poetry contest put on by 608today.

Have it be a love poem to Madison, please, whether it be about our lakes, or our cheese.

Send along your poetic best, please keep it to 300 words or less.

The winner gets a $50 gift card to Six and Main. What local poet will reign?

We’ll post our favorites online. Madisonians, it’s your time to shine.

Submit your work here by Monday, Feb. 5. Go forth, you delightful wordsmith.