My name is Richard Jeffrey Newman and I’m the host and curator of First Tuesdays, an open-mic, featured-reader, neighborhood literary series that meets on the first Tuesday of the month, September through June, at Espresso 77 Cafe in Jackson Heights.
First Tuesdays is a reading series where writers who wrestle with the issues of our day—from racism and sexual violence to climate change and economic inequality—can find an audience willing to embrace the risk and discomfort that come with sharing politically engaged, satirical, or otherwise edgy material; where those writers can coexist, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and camaraderie, with writers whose work is less overtly political or confrontational; where anyone who comes only to listen, even if they just happen to walk in off the street, can sit down with a cup of tea or glass of wine and feel not just welcome, but challenged and engaged, comforted, seen, maybe even inspired.
Maintaining this community requires an ongoing and conscious commitment to diversity and inclusivity, which in turn requires a commitment to making First Tuesdays a safe and welcoming space for anyone who comes to read or listen. Nothing erodes that sense of community like the mistrust and hatred borne of sexism, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, or any of the other far-too-many ways that human beings have learned to target each other for who they or what they believe. So I will state this plainly: Neither that kind of work nor that kind of behavior is welcome at First Tuesdays, and if I see it or am made aware of it, I—as the series host and coordinator—will not hesitate to confront those who are responsible for it.
Obviously, I am not perfect, and I can’t see everything. If there are issues you think I need to know about or ways you think the vision I’ve just outlined could be more fully realized, please let me know. I will keep what you tell me in strictest confidence and I will do my best to address whatever concerns or suggestions are brought to my attention.
So, if you’re looking for literary community, for a place you can feel at home, whether as a writer with work to share or as someone who just wants to listen, I hope you’ll come give First Tuesdays a try. Our open mic is open to all genres, but there’s a three-to-five minute limit so we have time to compose the cento we write collaboratively each month. (For prose, that translates into about three double-spaced pages.)
When: The first Tuesday of the month, September through June:
Where: Espresso 77, which is located at 35-57 77th Street, Jackson Heights NY 11372.
Cost: The venue asks that you make a minimum $5 counter purchase.