Seattle has a vibrant arts scene, and there are many worthy readings and open mics. I like to mix it up sometimes, but I do tend to frequent some venues more than others. For me, it's half about poetry/performance (or music) and half about community.
Last Monday night I hit Bai Pai, a Thai restaurant in Ravenna. The open mic is hosted by Jed Myers and includes music, poetry, and much cross-pollinating improvisation. I saw friends, met new people, and had a lovely late evening. A few of us swapped poems and read each others' work. It can be a little intimidating to read an author's work when she or he is in the audience, but it's also very rewarding. And I got a huge kick out of listening to others perform my work. Aaron did a lovely reading of "Milkman's Holiday" and Jed turned "Three Cheers for Dumb!" into a funny blues song, performed Lou Reed style. They both got me to thinking about my own work in a new way, which was very refreshing.