Mic Check Poetry Fest 2022

November 11-12


Mic Check Poetry Fest is a two-day celebration of spoken word, designed for poets, poetry lovers, performers, and those who seek the unmistakable feeling of community. The festival is packed with a variety of events, from performances by Iowa spoken word poets to a showcase highlighting nationally-acclaimed artists Ebony Stewart and Patricia Smith, making it unlike any other festival in Iowa. In the true spirit of spoken word, Mic Check Poetry Fest gives space for attendees to engage and create through a panel discussion, writing workshops, and a poetry slam and open mic. Festival events will be hybrid, with the option of in-person or virtual attendance.


Most programs require registration. You can attend in person or virtually.

Adults 19+ can get a Fest Pass for easy access to the entire festival at one low price — or purchase individual tickets to select events.

Teens 13-18 are invited to attend all events and youth workshops for FREE with registration!

Schedule of events

Friday, November 11

Spoken Word in the Academy Panel

For the first event of Mic Check Poetry Fest, we invite everyone to join this moderated discussion between two poetry performance artists as they present their work and share insights into the world of slam poetry. With Tracie Morris, Professor at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Steven Willis, recent MFA in Poetry from the Writers’ Workshop, this event offers a unique look into the history and growth of spoken word, as well as its role in the academy.

Time: 5:30 - 7:00 pm

Location: In person at Prairie Lights, 15 S Dubuque St. Virtually via Zoom.

Poetry in Motion

A live show featuring top spoken word performers sharing their work with the accompaniment of the acclaimed Gerard Estella Band. This show broadens the definition of spoken word by adding music to the powerful words brought to the stage. It speaks to anyone who appreciates poetry, music, and performance. Not to be missed!

Time: 7:30 - 9:30pm

Location: The James Theater, 213 N Gilbert St, Iowa City, IA. Virtually via live stream.

Saturday, November 12

11:00 am -12:30 pm


Time: 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Location: In-person at MERGE, 136 South Dubuque Street, on downtown Ped Mall. Virtually via Zoom.

Ages: 19+


Time: 11:00 am -12:30 pm

Location: In-person at Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room D, 123 S Linn Street. Virtually via Zoom.

Ages: 13-18

1:30-3:00 pm


Time: 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Location: In person at MERGE, 136 S Dubuque Street, on downtown Ped Mall. Virtually via Zoom.

Ages: 19+


Time: 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Location: In person at Iowa City Public Library, 123 S Linn Street, on downtown Ped Mall. Virtually via Zoom.

Ages: 13-18

4:00 pm and after

Mic Check Poetry Fest Showcase

Festival headliners Ebony Stewart and Patricia Smith take the stage, with IC Speaks poets opening. Q & A to follow.

Time: 4 pm IC Speaks // 4:30-6 pm Headliners // 6-6:30 pm Q & A

Location: In person at The Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington Street. Virtually via Englert website.

Slam O Vision International

The spoken word version of Eurovision, hosted by the UNESCO Cities of Literature and their partners — where each City slams their way to the grand title of SlamOvision Champion!

The Slam O Vision event is a project of the international UNESCO Cities of Literature. Slam poets in 11 Cities of Literature compete to be named the Slam O Vision champion.

Time: 8 - 8:45 pm

Location: In person at MERGE, 136 S Dubuque Street, on downtown Ped Mall.

Mic Check Festival - Poetry Slam

After a day of writing workshops, the evening poetry slam offers an opportunity for attendees to take the stage and share their own work. This event is essential to Mic Check Poetry Fest as it speaks to the heart of spoken word: listening and sharing, call and response, acceptance and vulnerability. This evening slam and open mic is a time not only to experience spoken word, but to embody it. 

Time: 9 - 10:30 pm. Sign Up 8:30.

Location: In person, Riverside Theatre, 119 E College St. 



Would you like to become a partner?

Click the link below for information about helping to support the festival!

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