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Poetry Night

The first wednesday of the month

Poetry Discussion 5:30 – 6:30 pm / Doors and open mic SIGN-UP 6:30 PM / READINGS 7:00 – 9:00 PM



Two short poems (less than one page) or one longer poem, with a limit of 5 minutes altogether.

A featured poet(s) reads for 20 minutes. Featured poets are booked by host Carol Graser. Generally, our features are established, published poets and/or have made significant public contributions to the regional poetry scene.


Pre-show poetry discussion

Join this librarian-led poetry discussion before the open mic! We’ll read and discuss a few selected poems on a given theme from provided handouts. Participants can then join the sign-up queue to read their own work at the monthly Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, or else, just stay and listen. No registration required. For November, we’ll look at poems that somehow invoke gratitude. Handouts will be available at the SSPL Information Desk prior to the event.

Discussion poems available here: February Caffe Lena 2023 Handout

February Feature: Hajar Hussaini

Hajar Hussaini is a poet, essayist, and translator from Kabul living in Saratoga Springs where she is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Skidmore College. Her debut poetry collection, Disbound (University of Iowa Press, 2022), grapples with the English language as it conforms to the pressures of abandonment. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her work has appeared in various journals including Poetry MagazinePoetry FoundationAAWW—Margins, and Pamenar Press. She is currently working on the English translation of the Afghan novel, Death and Its Brother (2017) by Khosraw Mani.https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/hajar-hussaini 


March Feature: John-Francis Quiñonez

John-Francis Quiñonez (They/Them) is a current resident of Providence, RI and a Queer Writer & Multimedia Artist. They are House Manager of the Columbus Theatre and Current Resident of the Queer.Archive.Work project. John-Francis has a collection of poems with Write Bloody Publishing (2022) entitled Keep Your Little Lights Alive: Poems After Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” & Others. Their work has appeared in Pigeon Pages, Ours Poetica, Voicemail Poems, Slamfind, Counterclock, Maps for Teeth, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and as part of aplaying card deck with Game Over Books. https://www.johnfrancisquinonez.com/


April Feature: Chase Twichell

Chase Twichell has published eight books of poetry, most recently Things As It Is and Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems, which won both the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award from Claremont Graduate University and the Balcones Poetry Prize from Austin Community College. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artists Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. After teaching for many years, she left academia to start Ausable Press, a publisher of contemporary poetry that was absorbed by Copper Canyon in 2009. Since 1996 she has been a student in the Mountains and Rivers Order at Zen Mountain Monastery. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.   https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/chase-twichell


May Feature: Andrea Carter Brown

Andrea Carter Brown is the author of  September 12, winner of the 2022 IPPY Silver Medal in Poetry from the Independent Publishers Association. This collection was finished during a residency at Yaddo, so she is particularly pleased to be reading from it at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. Her previous poetry collections include The Disheveled Bed (CavanKerry Press, 2006) and two chapbooks, Domestic Karma (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Brook & Rainbow (winner of the Sow’s Ear Press Chapbook Prize, 2001). “American Fraktur,” her current project, won the Rochelle Ratner Memorial Prize from Marsh Hawk Press. Her poems have won awards from Five Points, River Styx, and PSA, and have appeared on NPR, Poetry Daily and as the American Academy Poem-a-Day. They are also cited in the Library of Congress Online Guide to the Poetry of 9/11. A Founding Editor of Barrow Street and Managing Editor of The Emily Dickinson Journal, she joined the Word Works in 2017 as Series Editor of the Washington Prize contest and imprint. For more information, visit her website: https://www.andreacarterbrown.com/