There’s strength in numbers, but there’s fun in words. A lot of fun.

This weekend, authors, booksellers, essayists, poets, and other verse enthusiasts will head to LIC Bar for the Queens NYC Lit Fest, a two-day celebration of the borough and its booming writing scene. Organized by Michael Geffner from The Inspired Word, this first annual extravaganza will feature scheduled readings by residents from around the borough, including Maria Lisella, the newly appointed Queens poet laureate, and Audrey Dimola, hostess of the reading-and-live-writing series Nature of the Muse. Plus, both days will begin with open mic time at 11 am. (First come, first served. Five-minute slots.) More information and another photo on jump page.


It’s going to knock your block off. This Saturday, the Queens Council on the Arts will open the gates of the newly designated Kaufman Arts District for a block party with art, dance, food, live music, workshops and other creative activities. Let’s begin with the food. George Rallis from William Hallet will roast a suckling pig and have a spit going with pork butt. Kim Chi Smoke representatives will offer low-and-slow Korean BBQ food, and Mike Anzalone from Singlecut Beersmiths will serve locally brewed suds. Other participants include SnowdoniaManducatis RusticaBareBurgerMamu ThaiUNO PizzeriaOvelia, and Rockaway Brewery. Entertainment will feature local wordsmith Audrey Dimola, who will recite her own prose and host a special presentation of writers and poets. There will also be plenty to look at as the Queens World Film Festival will screen the award-winning short Recursion and Sal Milazzo from The Sparrow Film Project will present one of his own films. 

Details: Queens Council on the Arts Block Party, Kaufman Astoria Studios lot (35th Avenue and 36th Street), Astoria, June 21st, 4 pm to 10 pm, $35 for a ticket, which includes soda or bottled water, signature festival cup, all-day access to artist activities, eateries and breweries, admission to the film screenings, caricatures by art students and raffle prizes.

Bonus detail: The event raises funds for Queens Council’s High School to Art School program, which guides students through the art college application process and helps them with their portfolios.

Photos: Queens Council on the Arts


It’s the New York City marathon for word lovers. Queens Writes Weekend 2014 will facilitate more than 12 literary events at a minimum of six venues throughout the world’s most diverse borough over the last weekend in April. The fun will start on Friday, April 25th, with an open reading at The Astoria Bookshop featuring contributors to the third issue of Newtown Literary, a semi-annual journal. On Saturday and Sunday, the events will differ, but authors of all kinds — young, old, novice, expert — will simply sit down together and write for a few hours. Participants will then share the products of their efforts at an open mic event at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst on Sunday night.

Details: Queens Writes Weekend 2014, begins with Kick-Off Reading at The Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Astoria, April 25th, 7 pm, click here for times and venues on April 26th and April 27th, ends at Wrap-Up Open Mic at Terraza 7, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, April 27th, 6 pm, suggested donations at all times to defray the costs of publishing Newtown Literary‘s fourth edition and other good works. So far, events are set for Astoria, Bayside, Corona, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Kew Gardens, but more sites are expected to be confirmed before the weekend begins. Schedule and venues will be posted and updated regularly on this page.

Photo: Audrey Dimola


Western Queens got talent! Literary talent, that is. With a creativity incubator, a live-reading circuit, two new bookstores (Enigma and Astoria), and even a journal dedicated to fiction, the borough’s “word scene” is booming. On April 12th, the prose grows with World of Words: Queens at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Audrey Dimola (below), an “editorial acrobat” who is the event’s host, informs that there will be poetry, storytelling, music, dance, video, drama, spoken word, translation and live drawing of the performances. She also promises wit, rawness, passion, humor, honesty… and a few surprises.

Details: World of Words: Queens, Little Theatre at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, April 12th, 3 pm to 5:30 pm, $10.

Photos: Audrey Dimola


Since 2006, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Lab Residency Program has nurtured more than 50 artists and organizations. It’s time to celebrate. From March 26th through April 2nd, this incubator for creative types will host the Rough Draft Festival to showcase work by residents and offer a window into their artistic processes. Attendees can enjoy plays, the spoken word and even theatre workshops followed by interactive Q&A sessions with the creators. The schedule follows:

  • March 26th, Built For Collapse Workshop, 2:30 pm, Main Stage Theater, a series of exercises explaining the five bio-energetic structures and their relationship to emotional storytelling through performance.
  • March 26th, New Play Development Reading, 7 pm, Little Theater, Babies Just Roll by LPAC resident Kathryn Hathaway.
  • March 27th, Visual Storytelling through Physical Performance, 10:30 am, Dance Studio, theater-making via developing tools to create original work and applying them to bodies in space.
  • March 27th, New Play Development Reading, 7 pm, Little Theater, Christina Martinez by LPAC Resident Dan McCabe.
  • March 28th, Unstaged: A Playwriting and Performance Experiment, 3 pm to 9 pm, co-curated by Audrey Dimola and Tyler Rivenbark, ten playwrights will be paired with small groups of performers to write, rehearse, and stage individual short plays on the spot.
  • March 29th, RED WEDNESDAY, Work-in-Progress, 7 pm, Little Theater, inspired by the controversial story of Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, Iran’s Foreign Minister during the 1979 hostage crisis, and written by his great-niece, this play unpacks core issues between Iran, the U.S. and global interests.
  • April 2nd, Writing Workshop with New Play Development curator Francine Volpe, Little Theater, 2:30 pm. Volpe is a playwright, screenwriter and dramaturge who received her B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Dramatic Writing and was later the recipient of a two-year Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwriting Fellowship at The Juilliard School.

Details: Rough Draft Festival, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, March 26th through April 2nd, free.

Bonus detail: Rough Draft Festival Kick-off event featuring site-specific performances, live DJ and interactive social media installations done in collaboration with HOLOCENTER (Center For Holographic Arts), Clocktower Building, Queens Plaza North, Long Island City, March 27th, 9 pm to midnight. For reservations, email


Wordsmiths, sharpen your pencils! On January 30th, Queens writers will gather by the fireplace at the LIC Bar carriage house to read their works and then compete in a unique, interactive exercise that combines spontaneity with literature. Dubbed “Nature of the Muse” and organized by Western Queens poet extraordinaire Audrey Dimola, the contestants — John “Chance” Acevedo, Jeff LaGreca, Malini Singh McDonald, Devin Doyle and M. Leona Godin — will write live responses to random prompts from the audience. It’s an exploration of inspiration; the juxtaposition between the work writers produce on their own time and what they do in almost no time. Musical, multi-disciplinary creative types Tyler Rivenbark and Thomas Graff will perform at other moments.

Details: Nature of the Muse, LIC Bar, 45-58 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, January 30th, 7:30 pm, no cover, but attendees are encouraged to buy at least one drink.