From a man whose family ended up in the Federal Witness Protection Program to a woman who once had a job caring for a fortune-telling chicken in Guinea Bissau to someone's unforgettable encounter with a bee on a golf course, the stories told at The Shout are the stuff of fiction, but drawn from real life. Much like The Moth StorySLAM events, The Shout is crowdsourced storytelling: Stories have few guidelines besides being true, less than ten minutes long, and worth the time it takes to tell the tale. Featured storytellers are selected beforehand, but audience members can put their names in a hat in hopes of sharing their own six-minute yarns. Join hosts Rami Margron and Cassidy Brown at Grand Lake Coffee House (440 Grand Ave., Oakland) on Monday, Jan. 14 -- and the second Monday of every month -- for some riveting tidbits of real life. 7:30-9:30 p.m., $5-20. TheShoutStorytelling.com$5-20 sliding scale
Every Friday, the Launching Pad (2649 Russell St., Berkeley) hosts the Friday Night Launch, featuring spiritually focused spoken word, discussions, and music for young adults. The events start at 7 p.m. and are free, although donations are accepted; there's a group vegetarian dinner available at 6 p.m., too. 510-859-3150 or LaunchingPadBerkeley.comfree/donation
Twice a month you can earn points to qualify for the 2012 slam team at the Golden State Poetry Slam and Open Mic, hosted by three-time Grand Slam winner Sean "Ner City" Gullatt and Earring Diva D'Dra White. DJ Harvey Kent provides the tunes. Every first and third Sunday at Grand Lake Coffee House (440 Grand Ave., Oakland). 6:30-10 p.m. $5-$7. 662-589-8577 or GSSlam.com$5-$7
Itching to perform that powerful scene from your nascent screenplay? Need an audience to vet the intro to your great American novel? Want to summon the spirit behind Shakespeare's sonnets? Then head to Literary Night at Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden (1223 Park St., Alameda), which happens every third Thursday. Pieces can be original or not, and all genres are welcome. Free; sign-ups start at 7 p.m., readings at 7:30 p.m. 510-865-2385 or JuliesTea.comfree
Restorative justice programs may offer the best new hope for reducing violence in Oakland schools and the city overall, but their future funding is uncertain.