AWP Guide to Booking a Venue in Boston (pt.1)

Because people have started asking me about AWP Boston reading venues, and because I’m sure this line of inquiry will only increase with frequency and urgency as the date draws near, I thought I’d just put a few ideas out there I can point people to…

The problem is that there really aren’t many venues near the convention center that would be receptive to poetry readings. That said, here are some places to try in the immediate vicinity:

  • Bukowski’s (bar)
  • Trident Bookseller Café
  • Raven Used Books
  • Café 939
  • The Lower Depths (bar)

There are many other bars in the area, but they’re mostly sports bars and on a weekend will be PACKED with obnoxious people.

Further away from the convention center, you could try Brookline Booksmith (a great bookstore with a reading space in Coolidge Corner area, which has a few bars and restaurants nearby).

I would also recommend looking at Inman Square, especially if a few people banded together to make it a “hot location.” It’s not accessible by public transportation but has a few potential reading venues, and a lot of bars and restaurants. For readings here I would recommend:

  • Lorem Ipsum Books
  • Outpost 186
  • Lily Pad

Then there’s also Harvard Square—which is a short bus ride from the convention center, and a hub of commerce in Boston. Here there is the Harvard Bookstore and the Grolier Poetry Bookshop, plus more bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at.

For the ambitious event planner, I would also recommend Central Square (walking distance to Harvard Square and even closer to the convention center). Here there are a few live music venues you could try to secure (probably for a fee or cut of your door):

  • Middle East
  • TT the Bear’s
  • The Enormous Room
  • The Cantab Lounge
  • Plough & Stars
  • River Gods
  • Zuzu
  • Asgard

Aside from the bookstores listed above, you’ll probably have to make your case pretty aggressively to any of the bars listed. Bars are in short supply in Boston and thus also in high demand. If they’re going to surrender a night to your event they have to be assured that you’ll pack the place to the brim and help them sell a lot of drinks. Good luck, all!