Slam Poetry Season Opener: JCTC Hosts Grand Open Mic at Merseles Studios

Slam Poetry Season Opener: JCTC Hosts Grand Open Mic at Merseles Studios

Poetry takes center stage at Merseles Studios when Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents Jersey City Slam’s Grand Open Mic.

A decade-old Hudson County literary tradition, the Grand Open Mic is Jersey City Slam’s signature “open mic” show, where new and established poets, spoken-word artists, and other writer/performers gain new audiences by reading their work to the public.

As usual with Jersey City Slam, the evening also showcases a Featured Poet – ChyKonic Speaks, a New Jersey-based Slam Poet who has competed at the National Poetry Slam and is a curator of the renowned DAMN Slam in West Orange.

Jersey City Slam Gran Opening Mic is Thursday, Sept. 19, Doors open 6 p.m., Show 7 p.m., Artist Talk 8– 9 p.m. Tickets $10. To purchase visit:

Grand Open Mic Poetry can be of any style; newcomers welcomed. It is recommended that readers arrive early because the open mic list is expected to fill-up early.

The founders and poets of Jersey City Slam have not only organized numerous poetry projects throughout the region, but have represented Jersey City in national poetry competitions and offer spoken-word workshops for youths and adults. The Grand Open Mic is the first of a series of planned Jersey City Slam events hosted by JCTC.

Grand Open Mic opens the 10th season of Jersey City Slam Open Mic series. Jersey City Slam provides a safe space for poets to showcase their voices free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions. For more information, visit:

“Poets have their fingers on the pulse of the community and the universe,” said Olga Levina, Artistic Director, JCTC. “Live poetry readings are a dynamic and immediate art form. Poets regularly explore  issues that are global in scope but relevant to both the individual and the community, which is at the heart of JCTC’s mission. Jersey City Slam has been serving the community for a very long time and we look forward to collaborating with them now and for future projects.”

Grand Open Mic will be hosted by Jersey City Slam veterans and performance poets, Mark Skrzypczak and Ann Marie Manso. “We are excited to be working with JCTC,” said Skrzypczak, Event Coordinator, Jersey City Slam. “Slam has grown so much over the last few years and JCTC wants to help us take what we do to the next level by increasing our production quality and enhancing the experience for everyone. Grand Open Mic will be a first taste of things to come.”

Grand Open Mic Featured Performer/Chykonic Speaks

New Jersey Poet and recent graduate student at Montclair State University, ChyKonic Speaks has represented both the Montclair State Poetry Team and Jersey City Slam Team. She successfully competed at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational and the National Poetry Slam. Co-Founder and Co-Host of DAMN Slam in West Orange, her goal is to always keep creating new meaningful content and to make an impactful contribution to the craft.

 Grand Open Mic Co-Host / Mark Skrzypczak

New Jersey Poet, Haiku Aficionado and Event Director of Jersey City Slam Mark Skrzypczak was nominated as “Slam Organizer of the Year,” at the 2016 National Poetry Awards. Poetry has led Skrzypczak to perform all over the country including Boston, Salt Lake City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Rutgers University, Barnard College, and the University of Colorado. He represented Jersey City Slam at the National Poetry Slam as a slammer in 2013 and as a coach in 2015-18. He coached the viral sensation Rutgers University Poetry Slam Team at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational from 2013-2015.His work has been published multiple times in Borderline and Minglewood and has had his work praised on Slam Center during the 2013 National Poetry Slam. He will appear in the upcoming anthology by Ko(A) Publishing, The Revolution.’

 Grand Open Mic Co-Host / Ann Marie Manso

Jersey City Slam veteran and Co-Slammaster, Ann Marie Manso is an educator and performance poet from Northern New Jersey. While her writing career began with several publications and performances of her original work in high school, she began competing in poetry slams during her time as an undergrad at Montclair State University. Her team placed fourth at the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, marking her as one of the top collegiate poets in the nation. After college, she began slamming regularly at Jersey City Slam. She was a member of their 2015 and 2016 National Poetry Slam teams and represented the city at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. When not performing, Ann Marie is an English teacher who tries to instill a love for writing in every student she encounters.

Funding for Grand Open Mic was made possible by generous support from the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive and the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Grand Open Mic was also made possible through the generosity of Ben LoPiccolo Development Group, JCTC’s Board of Directors, private donors and local Jersey City businesses.

Jersey City Theater Center, Inc. (JCTC) is a nonprofit, 501c3 arts organization committed to inspiring conversations about important issues of our times through the arts.

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