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Written by Ellie Kay of Sublunary (link:

From “Key and Crowbars” to chapbooks, Jorge Mendez – an NFK local –has his hands full. That doesn’t stop him from reliably hosting the longest running uninterrupted open mic night in Hampton Roads.

Jorge revealed that his project for this year is a chapbook of themed poetry. This was exciting news for fans of his work. He will be collaborating on this project with another local artist, JT Williams. Between the covers will be 13 captivating horror related poems, available this October.

He also revealed that he’s got an even bigger project in the works. He hopes this piece will speak to different facets of himself in a way that anyone can relate to. Jorge weaves words together to illustrate a perfectly preserved moment. The book he’s working on, “Poems I Stole From My Imaginary Friends” will dive into compartmentalization and how it affects us. He hopes to dissect facets and aspects of himself in a way that resonates.

Jorge wasn’t always creating, and it wasn’t until he found himself at The Venue on 35th that he realized how important art would be in his journey. Jorge has suffered from depression for most of his adult life. That changed when he found this local creative center and was able to overcome his struggles.  He was vulnerable about his experience and shared that his biggest hurdle was overcoming limiting beliefs.

Jorge Mendez has become a fixture in our art community after years of dedication supporting The Venue on 35th and uplifting authors, poets, and spoken word artists. Without fail, he hosts Open Mic Night every Monday night. Additionally, he also hosts Feature Fridays at the Venue on the last Friday of the month. Each Feature Friday is it’s own new experience as the artists and features change.

When asked to describe his spoken word performances to someone who had never experienced it before he had this to say: “Spoken word is a poem that refused to stay on the paper. It demands to be heard.” He credited that quote to Sarah K. He hopes that he can share a piece of his struggle that we see in our own lives. He feels as though he has a responsibility to his audience to share a moment that is genuine and authentic.

He hopes that in 2018 he is able to connect with others who are looking for the ability to speak their own truth. Jorge stated, “It’s okay to not be okay… your art is a safe place to be vulnerable”. He stresses the importance of having a place for artists to create and share without unwelcomed or unsolicited criticism. He hopes to facilitate connection through community. He said this about his time at Venue: “If I show up on Monday and unlock the doors, and no one shows up, there’s no open mic”.

Jorge is one of the many volunteers that make keeping the lights on and the doors open at The Venue on 35th Street. To learn more about The Venue visit their WEBSITE (

To find more of his work visit HERE ( and get his book Keys and Crowbars HERE (

To hear the full interview and learn more about Jorge’s story listen to the Sublunary podcast here.