April is National Poetry Month, and this year even Oprah is getting into the act with a photo-spread of “rising poets” decked out in designer togs in her magazine. Here in SA we got the drop on O and the rest of the country by starting our poetry shindig a few weeks ago at Luminaria. We’ll stretch out for a few weeks, wrapping up with A Gathering of Poets & Writers at North East School of the Arts on May 17. This week we join the national cause with a bunch of word slinging by local and national poets, and Slam the Town, a sort of public art event that encourages everyone to spread the literary word. Yes, literally.
Here’s how it works — on April 1, send poems to everyone you know (or don’t) by any means you fancy. Bomb a parking lot with sheets tucked on car windshields, tack pages on bulletin boards, use snail mail if you can find a stamp, hand-deliver poems, cut and paste into an email, or send a text (guess that would be “pexting”) to someone you want to amuse or baffle. Yes, you’re being encouraged to litter, but no worries, the organizers promise it’s just fine if you include at the bottom of the page, “Slam the Town is a National Poetry Month 2011 in SA Activity.”
Definitions of poetry, spoken word, or fiction get a bit fuzzy, and on the page or said aloud, tend to blend at the edges. Our Lady of the Lake University’s Literary Festival is part of Poetry Month in SA; running April 1-10, it hosts poets and fiction writers. Some of the top names, like Sandra Cisneros, are both local and national celebrities. She reads on April 1 right after Carmen Tafolla at noon. Another fest highlight is Gabriela Garcia Medina, an internationally renowned spoken-word artist and poet who has her own perfume line. You can see her April 5.
Also keeping it local on April Fool’s — and adding some visual-art punch — is Yard Art 2011 with “poetic objects” at SAY Sí. Of course, there will be many readings at The Twig Book Shop, located at The Pearl on Grayson Street. Their first event is Poetry on the Move; the reading is at 2 p.m. on April 2. Another venue to keep an eye on is Gemini Ink, the nonprofit literary center on South Presa. An invaluable writing resource in SA, throughout the year they run a series of readings and writers workshops and send writers out into the community, typical
direct-action SA-art style. Gregg Barrios reads at Gemini April 8.
It’s two weeks away, but put April 15-17 down on your calendar: Poetry at Round Top includes poets Edward Hirsch, Martin Espada, Wendy Barker, Barbara Ras, Ellen Watson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and John Phillip Santos. Heads up, this is a pick.
The full schedule for National Poetry Month 2011 in SA is available at sahearts.com. Check it out — I promise you we left out some names and places you won’t want to miss.