Tuesday, April 6, 2010

National Poetry Month, Tonight in SF and thru April Everywhere

April is among other things National Poetry Month in the U.S.—highly appropriate for a time of renewal, rebirth, blossoming, and sunlight.

San Francisco, known for its flowering of poetry and art, and particularly strong for its contributions to beat poetry and spoken word, will be host to many, many events across The City this month—and one of those readings is happening tonight at 7 p.m., at the fabulous Books, Inc. on Market near Castro, which has become one of San Franisco's biggest supporters of independent LGBT writers. They were particularly supportive of my friend Paul Hufstedler, who's been reading from his new family memoir (that's him as a boy in the photo) at events all over The City—Paul's self-published, and the good folks at Books, Inc. were laudably enthusiastic about supporting his career and getting a few pennies of their own in the bargain.

Anyway, the folks at Books, Inc. have been good to me, too, and to the gay/queer men's writing group I'm a part of called GuyWriters, which nurtures emerging writers, presents established and "famous" writers and quarterly events, and also spearheads frequent humbler readings and open mics at Magnet, Books, Inc., and other locations throughout San Francisco.

Tonight in the Castro, GuyWriters presents a Poetry Open Mic at Books, Inc., with special guest and featured reader Dan Bellm, whose latest collection touches on Judaism and spirituality in clever and moving ways. One of Bellm's first two collections (selected for publication, remarkably, by two separate publishing houses in the same year!) is the amazing One Hand On the Wheel, a provocative exploration of the gay author's relationship with his own young son as well as with his older and then late father.... very powerful stuff, conveyed through extremely terse, textured prosody. Bellm is a master of old forms like the villanelle, the sonnet, and the sestina—this is not sissy stuff, folks (or maybe I should say it's only for tough, razor-sharp sissies... and then isn't that most sissies?)—and with taxonomic clarity and mathematical precision, he uses these forms to illuminate deeper truths about sexuality and family. Check him out tonight. And check me out—I'll be reading too, along with fellow GuyWriter James Siegel and others!

Speaking of me, a subject I'm never very far away from, I was recently selected by the San Francisco Public Library as a laureate for the Sunset District, as part of the library's annual Poets Eleven project. San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman selects winners to represent each of The City's eleven neighborhoods, and the winners, though not wined and dined exactly, get their poems published in a handsome volume published by the library, and readings ensue. Check me out next Monday April 12 at the newly opened Sunset Library, and then later this month at the all-districts reading on May 8 at the Main. The library is cosponsoring lots of poetry-related events this month. Check the listings out here.

Whether it's hearing Paul Hufstedler and others read at the Harvey Milk branch of the Library  at 7  p.m. tonight, or whether it's coming out to Books, Inc. to support GuyWriters, I hope wherever are, you're enjoying  a renewed spring fling with the written word.

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