Participating poets pictured following a performance at a Charlotte Art League drive-in poetry event. Photo: Tamica Jones

Local poets will face off in a drive-in open mic poetry event hosted by Charlotte Art League (CAL) and poet Jah Smalls this Sunday. 

CAL Executive Director Jim Dukes and Smalls developed the concept in June after the Covid-19 pandemic caused public events to shut down art activities and gatherings. Much like when attending a drive-in movie theater, attendees can park their cars to watch the performances. Organizers roll up the CAL loading dock doors to create an elevated stage. Music is provided by DJ Chocolate Rocket.

Since June, the event has taken place every Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The drive-in event attracted poets from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, while giving a platform for local poets to perform in front of a live audience. The gathering is also streamed live on Instagram. Guests can tune in by FM radio or roll down their windows and listen to the sound system. When the weather permits, attendees can bring lawn chairs to watch the show.

Poet Mrwitz performs at past Charlotte Art League drive-in poetry event. Photo: Tamica Jones

Subject matter and language are usually PG-13, but this Sunday’s open mic is adults-only. Organizers say “anything goes.” Dukes shared that the poets have a lot to say and feel like taking the filter off for a weekend. Eventgoers can expect poets to keep it raw with a variety of subjects, ranging from erotica to suicide to life as a Black American.

Guests can bring their own snacks and refreshments. Bathrooms will be available for use during the show. The gallery will also be open and free to visit before and after the show to browse the art.

The event will be held at the Charlotte Art League, located at 4100A Raleigh St. Event tickets are $10 per car or $5 per person. For more information or to purchase your ticket, click here.

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Janey Tate is QCity Metro’s multimedia reporter covering west Charlotte, culture and small business. The Miami native loves Erykah Badu, "Martin" and all things from the Black ‘90s and early 2000s...

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