Free Verse

Workshops of Poetry, Story, Art and Song

Free Verse COVID-19 Banner

Join us for the first of three online Open Mic poetry sessions hosted with Free Verse/Queens Museum on Zoom. For more information, please see the Poetry Sessions below

Free Verse runs poetry workshops in the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) waiting rooms that turn wait time into creative time. Born and bred in the South Bronx NeON waiting room five years ago, Free Verse invites community members, professional writers, and probation staff, to read, write, sing and perform on the open mic, and attend dozens of events that inspire, uplift, and empower. Free Verse also produces an annual magazine and provides jobs as writing apprentices and publishes books. All workshops, events, inclusion in the magazine, and book-making are open to the public. The arts are associated with positive criminal justice outcomes and play a role in assisting individuals to find employment. Why? Better writing, speaking, social and critical thinking are important job skills. Come and join us. Our Poet-in-Residence is waiting for you.

Free Verse Magazine Cover

In these pages, the Free Verse poets share hard reality and the determination to keep life moving forward – despite the odds. At Free Verse, we believe the only thing that separates any of us in this world is opportunity.

Read these works. Share them. It’s a start.

Download 2018 Free Verse Magazine

Join Us!

For more information about Free Verse writing workshops, public readings, and programmatic materials, contact us.

Free Verse Poetry Sessions

Please join us for the first of three online Open Mic poetry sessions hosted with Free Verse/Queens Museum on Zoom.

Visit the following link on Sunday, March 29 at 2pm to join: Zoom

On Sunday March 29, April 5, and April 19, we will host Free Verse Open Mic poetry sessions. For each session a “Poets Respond” prompt will be posted on the Wednesday prior to the event. Free Verse poets and the public are invited to write new poems in response to the prompt, and share their poems in an Open Mic format during the hour-long digital zoom meeting the following Sunday. For the first session the prompt is:

  • Poets Respond: to the theme SOLITARY SOLIDARITY. Write 1-3 poems about your current experience around social distancing and confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic and/or what previous experiences are helping you cope now.

Join us to share your poem or listen to the readings. Please note that there is limited capacity for this online program and participation is first come first served. The program will be recorded and shared for public viewing after it’s completion. To join the Zoom meeting make sure you have the free zoom app downloaded and installed on your device, and then visit the link provided above at the time of the event.

At the end of each Open Mic session we will highlight the work of one organization that is advocating for those affected by the criminal justice system. We are also inviting participants to email their poems to for a special edition pdf poetry compilation for each of the sessions.

This program is presented as part of the Community Partnership exhibition My Word(s) – These are the tools I trust, which presents text-based art and creative arts programs produced by participants of Free Verse. Initiated in 2012, Free Verse is a poetry workshop, working artists program, publishing house, and magazine that works with people in NYC Department of Probation waiting rooms to turn “waiting time into creative-time.” Poets share experiences with the criminal justice system, family shelters, racial profiling, among other critical social issues. While focused on serving those stuck waiting in probation centers, all workshops, open mics, inclusion in the magazine, and book-making are open to the public. The project has also evolved to offer participants job opportunities as teaching artists as part of a Working Artists Program.

This program is supported in part by NYC Department of Probation, Poets & Writers, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, and 81 Leonard Gallery.

Free Verse Playlist

To view a sample of past events visit the Free Verse YouTube Playlist