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The 16th & Mission Open Mic Celebrates 20 Years w/ Anthology & More!

Updated: May 18, 2023 11:27
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Twenty years ago a circle of chalk was drawn, on the concrete, in front of the 16th Street Mission BART station. To what purpose was this chalk circle?

A ritual of recognition? A demarcation of special space? A making important, via a specific corner, that which is too often disregarded? Well folks, it was all three of those things. But the main attraction of that circus type circle has been Poetry!

16th street Poetry Circle. Photo Courtesy of Charlie Getter.

Poetry, poetry, poetry and also, prose and song. But mostly poetry. Poetry from youngins. Poetry from those unhoused and dispossessed. Poetry from those whose voices are vital and powerful but often ignored in other settings. Poetry from those new comers as well as long timers. Poetry from those those who have been published to great accolades and those who have yet to have their words in print.

In many areas of the world, poetry is published in the newspaper, sometimes, on the front page. In other areas of the world and in different eras, poets have been imprisoned and even, executed. Because, at its core and at its best, poetry is the voice of the People – throwing down, calling out, and rising up. The 16th Street poetry circle on the street and in the night has evoked this spirit every week – year after year after year.

Photo from 16th & Mission Open Mic Instagram

As the invite for the upcoming Amado’s show so perfectly explains, “For the last twenty years, poets, musicians, emcees, comics, and performing artists of all kinds have been convening on the street corner at 16th & Mission every Thursday night to shout into the void. The weekly gathering has served as an incubator for a wide array of creative endeavors, spinning off numerous bands, performance troupes, authors and poets. At once one of the toughest places to perform in San Francisco, as well as one of the most welcoming and supportive, 16th & Mission represents this city’s finest tradition of inclusivity and community”.

They are hosting three great events in honor of this anniversary with a printed anthology of the great words that have been shared on that corner.

So go! Sincerely, go! And buy the book when you are there.

Of all the artists in this world, poets are the least paid, if they are ever paid at all. That’s how much you need to celebrate them because they often do it, powerfully and purely, for the expression of this here humanity.


May 23rd: Official Anthology Release – Landmark Musical Theater. 533 Sutter St. 8pm. –Register for tickets here.

May 24th: Amado’s. 998 Valencia St. 7pm. – Suggested Cover Charge $10.

May 25th: 16th Street & Mission. 10pm. – Free.

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Ginger Murray

Ginger Murray

Ginger Murray is a writer, storyteller and performer. A once SF Weekly columnist, published poet and founder of a feminist magazine, she recently graduated from Mills College with a degree in History because that is what she loves. Ginger currently lives in West Oakland where the lemon trees grow.