What started in Queens five years ago as a small poetry night — then gained success in Manhattan — is now making its way back to the borough stronger than ever.
Former journalist and lifelong Queens resident Mike Geffner began The Inspired Word in 2009 at a Forest Hills restaurant. The series, which started just for fun as a small monthly poetry reading, grew that year from an audience of 10 people to about 60.
However, the restaurant went out of business and left The Inspired Word without a venue. After taking a summer off, Geffner couldn’t find a venue he liked in Queens, so he took the series to Manhattan venues where, throughout the past four years, the series has expanded to include spoken word, music, comedy, storytelling and many more performances four to five times a week.
After the series had been away from Queens for five years, a friend recommended Geffner take a look at expanding back into the borough. After looking at venues in Long Island City and Astoria, Geffner found a home at COFFEED, a café located at 37-18 Northern Blvd.
“LIC and Astoria is really booming with artists,” Geffner said. “The second I walked in I said to my partner, ‘This is it.’ It was beautifully decorated, I just liked the vibe of the place and it smelled of artists. It just looked like everybody was doing something artistic there.”
The Long Island City café made the perfect location because it shared the same eco-friendly and community-based views as the series, according to Geffner.
Starting May 7, The Inspired Word will host open mic nights at the coffee shop every Wednesday. The series’ open mic events in Manhattan continue to see a lot of success with 30 to 40 artists currently performing per night.
“If we could build it in Manhattan, we can definitely build it back in Queens where my heart is,” he said.
Geffner said that it is important that the open mic nights at COFFEED feature Queens artists. Each night will have hosts from Long Island City and Astoria and one artist will be showcased every other week.
The Inspired Word will donate five percent of all proceeds to one artist’s favorite charity each month and will work to help promote artists’ careers.
“This has been a great second life to me and being able to bring it back to Queens, I’m so excited about it,” Geffner said. “More excited than I’ve ever been doing the whole series.”
For more information or to sign up for a Wednesday open mic night, visit www.inspiredwordnyc.com. Artists will also be able to register at the door.