Poetry in Rochester MN

While it’s hard to beat the opportunities for poets and poetry events in the Twin Cities, Rochester is growing rapidly in its poetry scene. There are many local poets who perform at open mics, feature in performances, and collaborate with other artists to create interesting new work.

Day of the Dead Poets Slam is Coming!There are a growing number of poetry readings, showcases, and Poetry Slams. Of course, we are hosting our combination Poetry Slam and Day of the Dead Celebration, Day of the Dead Poets Slam, again this year. But in addition to our own events, there are other organizations hosting Poetry Slams.

The Diversity Council has organized two Poetry Slams around a theme, the first being a Poetry Slam in honor of Martin Luther King Junior, and the second a Poetry Slam honoring Harvey Milk. Their third event in this series will be in Thursday October 20th, honoring Dolores Huerta. We have been so excited to help them out with putting on these Slams, with Danny Solis as MC, and McKay Bram and Nicole Nfoyonim de Hara trading as DJ.

diVERSE Poetry Slam

The Rochester Art Center has hosted Poetry Slams in the past, and has partnered with Diversity Council to present their Poetry Slams. In addition, they have co-presented Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2015, and this year’s event, with us. Rochester Art Center may hold more Poetry events in the future, they have been very supportive and encouraging of the Poetry community here in Rochester.

Cafe Steam Open MicIn addition to Poetry Slams, many of Rochester’s current Open Mics have been very supportive of Poetry. C4’s Open Mic Night at Cafe Steam, every Thursday night at 7:00 PM, sees many poets reading, performing, and even trying out new work. C4’s Open Mic used to be held at the Creative Salon, until their organization left the building in recent months to focus full time on finding a permanent space. Their Open Mic Night was moved across the street to Cafe Steam, which means while it is relatively new to Cafe Steam, this Open Mic has been going strong for a couple years now.

Forager Open MicWith lots of new restaurants and breweries in Rochester comes more opportunities for performance. Forager Brewing Company has recently starting holding their own Open Mic Night every Monday night at 7:30 PM, and Poets are are welcome to take a turn at the mic.

League of Minnesota Poets LogoIf you’re more interested in writing poetry and not as much into performing, Rochester has its own chapter of the League of Minnesota Poets, SEMN Poets. They meet once a month to discuss poetry, drink coffee, and sometimes listen to a guest speaker. From their website,

Southeastern Minnesota Poets meets every first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM in Buena Vista Condos party room, Rochester. Poets of all levels and interests are welcome and encouraged to attend. We have a short business meeting, educational segment, and poetry read-around. Occasional guest speakers. Always fresh coffee!

I have yet to check out a meeting myself, but I’m planning to very soon! I’ve been speaking to Sue, one of their organizers, and she is very welcoming.
These are only some of the growing opportunities for poetry in Rochester, MN. If you know more, share in the comments!

Our Plan for this Year’s Day of the Dead Poets Slam

First of all, we’re so excited and thankful that we have received funding from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council for Day of the Dead Poets Slam 2016! This grant is going to make it possible for us to make Day of the Dead Poets Slam bigger and more exciting than ever before!

We’re expanding the event this year into a three day celebration, Nov 3 – Nov 5, 2016. This even is co-presented by the Rochester Art Center, and all activities will take place in the Grand Lobby. Thursday Nov 3rd will be a youth poetry showcase, with the theme “My Story, My Voice”. Kids from grade 4 through 12 will be invited to sign up to read their own poetry based on that theme. I’m excited to see what they come up with!

Sugar Skull
Sugar Skull, do not eat.

Friday Nov 4 will be the VIP, or Very Important Pachanga. Pachanga is a Spanish word for party, and we’re inviting everyone to come meet and party with the poets, artists, event organizers, and Rochester Art Center staff! There will be snacks and drinks, crafting and free art supplies, and some preview performances by our poets. There will also be artist talks by our five participating artists. Each of these artists will have designed and installed their own altar, which will be displayed through the week. In addition to these artist-designed altars, there will be a community altar where you are welcome to place letters, drawings, or special mementos in honor of your loved ones who have passed away.

Karla Giguere standing by the altar she designed and created.
Karla Giguere standing by the altar she designed and created. Photo courtesy of McKay Bram, 2015.

On Saturday Nov 5, we will be combining our event with RAC’s Free Family Day! We’ll be at the Grand Lobby from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, and everyone is invited to come make crafts related to Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Families will be welcome to contribute to the community altar, and we will be educating those who may not be familiar with Day of the Dead about its history and cultural significance.

Some letters kids wrote to their deceased loved ones.
Some letters kids wrote to their deceased loved ones. Photo courtesy of McKay Bram, 2014.

Saturday night will be the big event, Day of the Dead Poets Slam!  There will be eight poets competing in this themed Poetry Slam, but none of them will be using their own poems! Instead they will each be performing as their favorite late poet, using costumes, props, and makeup, to enhance their performance! These eight poets will become their favorite dead poet for the evening, bringing them back to life through performance and poetry. In past years, it has been so cool to see an entire audience get excited about poetry, listening to poets like Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Federico Garcia Lorca, Sappho, Sylvia Plath, and more!

Laurel Podulke-Smith as Sappho
Laurel Podulke-Smith as Sappho. Photo courtesy of McKay Bram, 2015.

If you’re interested in competing, we’ll be posting a call for poets to audition later this summer, so stay tuned for that! Always feel free to contact us if you have any questions, too. 🙂


Co-Director, Rochester Art Ensemble


Interested in more? Find us on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/rochesterartensemble/


Co-presenting organization, Rochester Art Center: http://rochesterartcenter.org/


Hello, World.

Hello Everyone!

We’ve decided to start a blog to keep you updated on current projects, share thoughts and our rehearsal process, and also share ideas for upcoming events! This first post is going to be pretty short (just a quick hello!), but we’ll be back soon with news about our performances, events, and poetry slams in Rochester, MN. 🙂

Please comment with questions and responses, we’d love to hear what you have to say.


Co-Director, Rochester Art Ensemble