Tucked into the corner of a non-descript North Miami shopping plaza is a cozy, jazzy, vibe-filled lounge that showcases some of the best poets in South Florida.
When superstar poets such as actor Malcolm Jamal Warner and rapper Common are in town, they are sure to spend time at the café’s mic.
Owned and operated by nationally recognized spoken word master (and very funny) Will “Da Real One” Bell, the Literary Café and Poetry Lounge at 933 NE 125 St. could easily have been a scene from the movie Love Jones, in which spoken word was essentially featured as one of the film’s main characters.
With a bar serving up drinks with clever names such as “Attitude Adjustment” and DJ MIDWID (Make it Do What it Do), spinning neo-soul and enlightened rap, the spot is a magnet for a young but discerning crowd looking for a fresh alternative to the typical night club scene.
Warning: the erotic poetry nights are not for the squeamish. The free-flowing use of profanity and graphic poetry may turn some off, but if you’re open to freedom of expression and the adept mixing of subjects, verbs and really vivid adjectives to describe age-old male/female interactions, then sip on an “attitude adjustment,” and brace yourself.
In addition to displaying spoken word, the Literary Café has a full schedule of events most every night of the week. The lounge’s newest offering is called Face to Face Sundays, which Bell, 40, said is aimed at “getting people off of Facebook and texting, and talking face to face.”
The event will feature different discussion topics each week, all centered on relationship issues.
“We need to figure out a way to heal ourselves,” he added.
Every second Tuesday of the month is Culture Clash — a night of Hispanic and Caribbean entertainment.
Bell said that Wednesday is “one of the most beautiful things to happen in this place. A bunch of rappers and singers congregate with record label types.”
The Larry Dogg Movement, he warns, doesn’t start until 11:30 p.m. But, he adds, “It’s well worth the while if you can sing or rap,” repeating the caveat three times to laughter.
The first Friday of the month is Erotic Poetry night, hosted by Ingrid B and the
B-Side Family, (please see above warning.) And the last Friday of the month is Jazzy Friday, which features a live band playing neo-soul, soul and jazz music with poetry, hosted by local poet Anomaly, with music played by DJ MIDWID.
The café has been in existence for seven years, about a year and a half at its current location. Bell said it is one of very few in the entire country to offer a full-time operational poetry venue, which it has done for the past three years. The lounge was only open on Saturdays during its first four years.
The former prevention and disease control specialist has been a full-time poet for the past seven years, landing a coveted spot on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” a mere six months into his new career.
A graduate of Miami Edison Senior High, Bell said his primary purpose in running the Literary Café is to offer poets from all over the country a receptive place to exhibit their craft.
“This place is solely geared to make sure that poetry has a home,” he said. “Culture is a very hard sell, but it’s well worth it.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Literary Café and Poetry Lounge
WHERE: 933 NE 125th St., North Miami
WHEN: Events occur on every night except Mondays and Thursdays.
COST: $10 cover. Drinks cost between $5 and $12.
CONTACT: For more information, please call Will at 786-234-POET.