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Reading Series Census: Risk of Discovery

By on Friday, June 17th, 2016 at 9:04 am

The New York City Reading Series Census is an ongoing project to catalogue the contemporary literary scene. Any reading series curator in the New York area can take the survey here.

What is the name of the series, and what is the significance or meaning of the series name?
The name of the series was inspired by the words from the poet Yusef Komunyakaa speaking to the creation of new writing. In an interview and essays he addresses how taking risks brings surprises in ones’ writing that are like discoveries. I had a list of names and my wife helped me select this one.

Who founded the series, and who runs it now?
I founded the series all by myself about a year and half ago when a comedian I am acquainted with said they were looking to do an open mic poetry show. (I am really poor at keeping track). We started at QED: A Place to Show and Tell off of Ditmars Blvd in Astoria, great venue for fun classes for adult learners and at night for improve, stand-up, trivia and other storytelling themed open mic shows. Now, it is at Astoria Coffee (I believe since Oct 2015) off the 30th avenue stop of the NQ train line. Our next show is June 21st from 7:30-10 with J.T Price (Fiction), Richard Jeffrey Newman (poet) and Lisa Marie Basile (poet, essayist).

What genres or mediums does the series include?
The series is poetry heavy as that is my expertise but is open to acapella, songwriters, rappers, nonfiction, fiction, etc…in both the features and the open mic poets.

What is the format of the series?
First, to support the venue keeping open later than their normal hours, there is a 10 dollar cover towards either food/drink which will be collected at the door. Next, the series begins at 7:30 with an informal poetry prompt workshop where poets do fun time poetry prompts that I make up a day or two before and do myself; part of the risk and the discovery is writing the poem on the spot and reading it out loud at the open mic. But, there is no pressure. But, I love new open micers who come and read and give it a shot. We are friendly and inviting group. Bring your friends. Spread the word.

Where does the series take place?
The series takes place at Astoria Coffee located on 30-04 30th street Astoria, New York right opposite a Trade Fair Grocery store, a block from the 30th avenue NQ train stop.

When and how often is the series performed (and is it seasonal)?
As of now, the reading takes place every third Tuesday of the month. So far, it has not been seasonal. It has been year round but could change in the future depending on feature availability and audience attendance or venue schedule conflicts.

How long has the series been active?
The series has been active for about a year and a half since the middle of 2014.

Where can people find information about series on the web?

They can find it on Facebook at ROD Series-Risk of Discovery Reading Series. I post that same link at twitter on @RiskMz.

They can also go to my new in progress author website (which will eventually become but has to be linked to directly at the moment and not through Google search. I also often post the event on my twitter feed and at the Poets and Writers events part of their website

Do you take submissions, solicit material, or a combination?
If you want to be a featured reader and I have never seen you read at an open mic or reading and have not contacted you directly myself through social media/email because you have been referred to me by another writer, you can email me at riskofdiscovery(at) which is on the contact us section of and then send a word attachment of work that I can look to consider you for future feature spots.

Did you set out with specific goals when the series was launched and have they changed over time?
My specific goals were to build a community of writers and readings and as a result meet new people and produce new work and continue networking as I did when I was completing my M.F.A. in Poetry at The New School. Largely, as a result of completing my degree and the people I met and made friends with along the way, I have built a network of writers and creatives who try to risk and discover in work/performance pieces. (Side note: Also, I host an open mic through my job as an overtime gig at the Queens Central Library in Jamaica from Oct-June every year; this has also helped me get featured writers and readers and get them the rare paid gig).

What distinguishes the series from others?
My reading series is in a small intimate space at Astoria Coffee. We start with a fun time poetry prompt writing workshop that is informal where people get to “free write” within the perhaps strangely delightful constraints I give them. It often produces amazing work from myself and the attendees. I start off each reading sharing these creations. The most unique aspect besides the poetry prompts is an authenticity as a person I try to convey but as much as possible being my genuine self at the microphone. It’s all a part of the risk and discovery when we read newly created work and sometimes surprise ourselves with what the prompts bring out. Lastly, I try to have 3-4 features as often as a can; a balance of local prominent writers with a few published book academic writers or not sprinkled in. I am trying to feature more fiction writers and genres other than poetry whenever I can. I try to keep it loose, inviting and as supportive as possible. Everyone is welcome.

The next Risk of Discovery reading is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at Astoria Coffee and features Lisa Marie Basile, Richard Jeffrey Newman, and J.T. Price.



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