Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s presence is alive in the East Village at the Nuyorican Poets Café, which Ginsberg called ‘the most integrated place on the planet’ because of its mix of white, Afro-Cuban, and African-American rappers and poets, musicians and storytellers, performing in many languages. This cultural institution maintains its long-standing street cred in its current home, a high-ceilinged, brick-walled space on East 3rd Street in Alphabet City. Crowds line up around the block to cram into the small club for the Friday night poetry slam, but also worth checking out is the hip-hop poetry and jazz open jam, Afro-Cuban jazz evenings, or the open-mic prison-writing night called Write from Wrong.
Spoken-word junkies will also love the Bowery Poetry Club (pictured above), which bills itself a ‘playground for language.’ This spacious cafe with a party atmosphere puts on about 20-30 shows a week, hosting poetry slams and readings, burlesque and jazz with poetry, and monthly events like poetry and stories from Andy Warhol alum Taylor Mead, and the Urbana Thunderslam open-mic poetry slam.
Cinephiles will find paradise at The Anthology Film Archives, devoted to archiving, restoring, and showing the best in experimental film. Programmers dig into the vault and show several screenings a day of classic and cutting-edge documentaries and art films, along with filmmaker retrospectives and premieres. The seats are uncomfortable, it can be hot in the summer and cold in the winter, the roof is known to leak, but hardcore film buffs don’t complain.