Hosting an in-store poetry reading is an easy way to create a connection with your local community. By working with a local school or university (do a little research on English or Drama programs), you can invite students in to perform their work. Not only will you be seen as a supporter of the local schools and art programs, but will invite a potentially different type of customer (students, families, artists) into your location for an evening.


Before you get to planning, ask yourself: “Would our regular customers be interested in / enjoy attending a poetry reading?” If so, plan away! If not, and this type of event wouldn’t align with your brand, that’s ok – check out some of our other In-Store Events to find the one that’s right for you and your business!

Ok, back to the poetry reading… while the event is relatively easy to pull off, make sure you treat it like an official event, not just something you threw together. Here are a few tips:

  • If you’re going to host more of an “open mic” type night, post the upcoming dates on your website, in-store, or via social media, so customers and students alike know when to come in.
  • If you want to have it be a bit more structured, create a printed program for each night, highlighting the students that will be performing.
  • Offer specials for your customers: discounts, free samples, light appetizers, etc.
  • Check out your local weekly events paper to take out an ad, as they may print art event ads for free!

A coffee shop is the obvious choice for a poetry reading – it’s a little quieter with ample seating. But, you could easily host a poetry reading in a retail store or small bar / lounge. Whatever type of business you own, ensure there are light refreshments on hand for your guests (even something as simple as hot coffee and cookies will do), that there is plenty of seating for guests, and that you have an “emcee” dedicated to keeping the night organized and professional.

Remember, some of the students may be sharing their poetry with a crowd for the first time at your event, so you want to make them feel as special as possible.

Also see In-Store Events: Parties for a detailed Planning Timeline to help.

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