The Maple Leaf reading series is the longest-running poetry reading series in New Orleans as well as the South. In 1979, famed local poet Everette Maddox began the series with sculptor Franz Heldner and poet Nancy Harris. Maddox had moved to New Orleans from Alabama earlier in the decade to teach at Xavier University. Almost immediately after arriving, Maddox became a prominent figure in the local poetry scene. Until his death in 1989, Maddox served as host for the Maple Leaf readings.
In his later years, Maddox had become homeless and mostly jobless, and he spent much of his time sleeping at the Maple Leaf Bar. Following his death in 1989, his ashes were buried in the bar's courtyard, where the weekly reading series continues.
On Sundays at 3 pm in the courtyard, poets of all experience levels are welcome to participate in open microphone readings. The reading runs as long into the afternoon as necessary to allow time for all open mic readers to perform. Those who wish to read can sign up upon arrival with Nancy Harris, master of ceremonies.