The Maple Leaf Bar hosts the longest continuously running poetry reading series in North America. It is free and open to the public. The poetry series has been a platform for a great diversity of writers to present their work, from the published and well-established to the novice poet alike. The reading series was founded in 1979 by Franz Heldner, Bob Stock, and the consummate poet laureate of the Maple Leaf Bar, Everette Maddox. The series gained popularity around the same time that James Booker, the flamboyantly wonderful one-eyed piano virtuoso, held court at The Leaf. Everette Maddox, another well-loved outrageous personality of the time, helped popularized the series with his humor, charisma and whit. Maddox ran the series for nearly 10 years, until his death in 1989. Since then, the torch has been carried on by poet Nancy Harris aka "Ape Woman."
To date, there have been four published anthologies of poets who have read their work at the Maple Leaf: The Maple Leaf Rag (1980), The Maple Leaf Rag 15th Anniversary Anthology (1994), the Maple Leaf Rag III (2006), and Maple Leaf Rag IV (2010). Additionally, the Maple Leaf is portrayed in many books and stories by New Orleans writers. It is thinly disguised as "The Raintree Street Bar" in the Ellen Gilchrist short story "The Raintree Street Bar and Washerteria" (The Leaf was once a small Laundromat). Poems inspired by the Maple Leaf or about the bar can be found in Mirror Wars and Shards, by Nancy Harris; Body and Soul and Rhythm & Booze, by Julie Kane; and The Everette Maddox Song Book, Bar Scotch and American Waste by Everette Maddox. American Waste is a collection of Maddox’ final poems, written at the Maple Leaf, Muddy Waters (which was once located across the street) and at the Carrollton Station. Maddox penned the final version of his poems on bar napkins, fliers, and beer coasters which were collected by Hank Staples, the current owner of the Maple Leaf Bar. After Maddox’ death, his friends decided to publish the posthumous collection of poems.
The readings are held every Sunday at 3 p.m. If you are going to be in New Orleans and would like to read, please contact Nancy at least a month or more in advance.
- William Matthews
- Maxine Cassin
- Nancy Harris
- Julie Kane
- Yusef Komunyakaa
- Ralph Adamo