For poetry lovers across the Bay Area, there is no better place to be than The Starry Plough Pub in Berkeley for Northern California’s oldest running slam poetry night. Every Wednesday, both up-and-coming and established poets, as well as their admirers, gather to hear some of the most original and breathtaking poetry of California.
Every Wednesday except holidays, you can arrive at either 7:30 (sharp—they only take 10 poets a night) to sign up, or at 8:15 to watch these poets take the stage. The rules at The Pub’s slam are pretty standard, but just to be sure you can visit the Slam website if you have any questions. If you’re interested, look ahead of time for theme or cover slams and maybe you’ll get lucky. The slam is welcoming towards everyone, and has absolutely no censor on content (so be warned). You do not have to be a seasoned poet to perform but you are expected to have your own original work! If you keep it to three minutes and speak with passion and fire, you’re good.
The slam started in 1998 as a fundraiser for the college radio station. It got such positive feedback that they started hosting regular shows in March of 1999. For years, the slam held finals to select and send poets to represent Berkeley at the National Poetry Slam. The Berkeley team has traditionally done very well and many have now moved on to become solo performers. Charles Ekabhumi Ellik, founder of the Slam and producer of the Individual World Poetry Slam, just retired from performing himself. The Slammaster title has now passed on to Jaz Sufi.
In addition to coming to the pub for awesome poetry, you can head over early for workshops and writers’ groups that meet together nearly every week. The Starry Plough and the poetry committee are not only entertaining, but they also work to build community within Berkeley based on passion and love for slam poetry. As the oldest running poetry slam in Northern California, it has inspired other slams to pop up across the Bay and Central Valley. You can catch local and even world-famous poets gathering at this historic pub to slam together.
By Aimee Rose
“A girl with an old soul and a child’s heart, suffering from a bad case of wanderlust.”