Open Mic Nights

We read to know we are not alone.
—C.S. Lewis

Bill Baldwin, Director

Bill Baldwin, Director

Welcome!   The South Bay Writers Open Mic series has been providing a Silicon Valley spoken word forum for authors for more than 10 years. It originated with a Los Gatos Borders bookstore “Banned Books” event and evolved into a regular monthly—and then nearly weekly—event. It nurtured the Travelling Steinbeckians’ celebration of the John Steinbeck Centenary in 2002, as well as readings at the East of Eden conferences in Salinas. Currently, we offer two Open Mics a month, with hopes for a third. Please see details below.

– Bill Baldwin, Director (


What is it?

A get together of people interested in reading to an audience and listening to others read.

How do I sign up?

It is not necessary to sign up in advance. Walk-ins are welcome! However, if you do sign up in advance, you and your work will be listed in the evening’s printed program—good publicity! Just decide which date you plan to attend and connect with Open Mic Nights Director Bill Baldwin—at least one day prior to session—via online or email:

What is the purpose of Open Mic?

To provide an opportunity to highlight your own writing or that of a favorite author, and to practice reading in public. This is valuable experience for the future promotion of your work. It is also an opportunity to meet other writers.

What do people read?

Most attendees read from their own writings. Sometimes, they may read the work of an author they consider a literary role model. Poetry, Memoir, and Fiction predominate, but all genres are welcome. Currently, we have one Open Mic in a public setting, where we ask that the readings be appropriate for a general audience, and one Open Mic in a private setting, where we place no restrictions on subject matter or language.

How long is the session?

We read from 7:30 p.m. until approximately 9 p.m. Each person may read for up to 10 minutes. If time is available, people may read more than once. 

Is a person required to read?

People are free to simply sit and listen to others read.

TIPS for a quality reading?

Bring a piece that you are comfortable with and practice it in advance. Have a fair idea of the length of the piece. Know whether the language is appropriate for the selected Open Mic. Become comfortable with reading from the page and projecting to the audience. Don’t be shy—read with confidence! And, enjoy yourself!

What do folks say about Open Mic?

Folks generally find Open Mic extremely useful—and fun:

“The regular readings have really helped in my marketing skills department. Highly recommended to writers. Way too underappreciated, I believe.” – Richard Burns 

“A great evening!” – W.A. Mitchell

What is it not?

Our Open Mics are not critique groups. Generally, people simply read their works to the audience. If a reader requests feedback, the audience usually will provide honest but supportive comments. We may also briefly discuss literary topics that arise. And, we socialize.

More Questions?

Contact the Director of Open Mic Nights, Bill Baldwin, at

Current Schedule

We host events on the first and third Friday of every month
(with some exceptions for holidays).

FIRST FRIDAY, 7:30 pm – 9 pm
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
Almaden Plaza
5353 Almaden Expy at Blossom Hill Road, San Jose

We gather in the café at the rear of the store. Please note: Since this is a public setting, we ask readers to avoid subject matter and language that might offend our wider audience (especially parents of young children!)

THIRD FRIDAY, 7:30 pm – 9 pm
Willow Glen Branch Library
1157 Minnesota Avenue, San Jose
We gather in the Community Room at the rear of the library (the rest of the library is closed). Enter the Community Room door from the parking lot. Please note: Since this is a private setting, we are experimenting with having no restrictions on subject matter or language.