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Guide to National Poetry Month 2015, Part 1

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The Los Angeles Poetry community has long been one of the most diverse scenes in the city. Whatever your demographic is and whether you like performance poetry or academic work, there is a venue to meet your poetic needs. This week L.A. Letters lists an extended selection of poetry readings and special literary events commemorating April and National Poetry Month. Next week's column will include another list as well. See the links included for the address, times and further specifics.

A Mic & Dim Lights is entering its 15th year. Hosted by Cory Cofer, aka Besskepp, the warm vibrations in the space make this a favorite of not only locals in Pomona, but poets from all across Southern California. DJ JB spins records between poets. Hip hop lives here, but the lineup also includes political poets, spoken word artists, and page poets. Besskepp is open to all, and he is also known for mentoring hundreds of teen poets from high schools across the San Gabriel Valley. Held on the first Thursday of every month. On Thursday April 2, their featured poet is Gia Scott-Heron. Starts at 9:15 p.m. Cover charge is $5.

A Mic & Dim Lights
First Thursday of each month, 9:15 p.m.
300 2nd St. in Pomona's Art Colony

The annual San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival begins on Saturday, April 4 from 3-5 p.m. The Big Open Reading will be hosted by Khadija Anderson, Lynne Bronstein, and Karineh Mahdessian. All readers will receive prizes and there is a special appearances planned by A Band Called Words (DM Collins).

On Saturday April 11, 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 pm, there will be a broadside contest, along with featured poets including Calokie, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Joe Gardner, Liz Gonzalez, Lois P. Jones, Elmast Kozloyan, Raundi Kai Moore-Kondo, Matt Sedillo, Apryl Skies. To be eligible for the $50 prize, email one poem of fewer than 50 lines to kingfisher1031@charter.net by April 10.

On Saturday, April 18, 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., there will be a Chapbook Contest. To be eligible for the $100 prize, email 10 poems totaling no more than 2015 words to kingfisher1031@charter.net by April 17th. Featured poets include Iris de Anda, Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, Teresa Mei Chuc, Marvin Louis Dorsey, Patrick Thomas Jeffries, Chris "Cakeshop" Penalber, Raquel Reyes-Lopez, ER Sanchez, Sarah Thursday and Mary Torregrossa.

San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival
Throughout the month of April
Santa Catalina Branch Library
999 E. Washington Boulevard, Pasadena

Tribal Café is a space where there are a number of different poetry events. On the first Monday of every month, Lida Parent-Harris hosts an open mic with a creative, diverse crowd of poets, musicians, storytellers, comedians, and people who love to share a new experience. She also hosts an open mic here called "Chill Sundays" on the 2nd and 4th Sunday. Located where Echo Park meets Historic Filipinotown, the Tribal Café has been hosting poets and singer-songwriters for close to a decade. The other popular event at the Tribal is Sunday Jump, a Filipino-founded community open mic series hosted by Eddy Gana, with help from Stephanie Sajor and Gwen-Florelei Luib. The series takes place at the Tribal on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month.

On Sunday April 5, Sunday Jump will be hosting a Writing Workshop with Cara Le, spoken word artist Alex "Alpharaoh" Alfaro, songwriter Ehwhen Keem, and DJ Won. On Sunday, April 19 they will be featuring Glassless Minds poet Sherwin Ginez and Occidental College CUPSI poet Daphne Auza. Sunday Jump has also recently started publishing a quarterly anthology of their writers titled "(Be)Longing."

Sunday Jump at Tribal Cafe
Sunday, April 5, 4 p.m.; April 19, 5 p.m.
1651 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA, 90026

The Sidewalk Café in Altadena holds Poets & Allies for Resistance, a social justice themed poetry event an open mic. It happens on the first Monday of each month; on April 6, the featured poets are V Kali and Jawanza Dumisani. Hosted by Khadija Anderson.

Poets & Allies for Resistance at Sidewalk Cafe
Monday, April 6, 6:45 p.m.
2057 N Los Robles, Altadena, CA 91001

Tuesday Night Cafe
Tuesday Night Cafe

The Tuesday Night Café is entering their 17th year. This popular Little Tokyo open mic has garnered a number of awards over the years. Founded originally by poet and performance artist Traci Kato-Kiriyama, this space has been an epicenter for Asian-American poets dating back to the last millennium. Held on the first and third Tuesday of every month from April to November, the location sits directly east of City Hall. The event maintains a passionate, positive space with a focus on bridging art and community through new original work from Asian American/Pacific Islander communities and the greater Los Angeles area. The production team includes Sean Miura and Quincy Surasmith among others. The season opens on April 7 and will be hosted by Johneric Concordia with beats by DJ Won, and Alfie Numeric is the featured visual artist. The featured poets include George Abe, Kelley Pheng, Miharu Okamura, D'Lo, Beau Sia, danAKAdan, Priska and Paul Dateh, in addition to the open mic.

Tuesday Night Cafe
Tuesday, April 7, 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Two special literary events will be held at Cal State L.A. as part of National Poetry Month. The Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (CCPP), the College of Arts and Letters, and the English Department at Cal State L.A. have joined together to schedule a series of events for academics, writers, and readers.

First on Tuesday April 7, the distinguished scholar Luo Lianggong will be giving a lecture on contemporary poetry.

On Thursday April 9, the Professor and poet Susan Schultz, who is also known as the founder of Tinfish Press, will be giving two readings on campus. See the link below for the room numbers and more specifics.

National Poetry Month at Cal State L.A.
Tuesday, April, 3:15 p.m.; Thursday, April 9, 3:15 p.m.
5151 State University Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90032

Tongue & Groove is a monthly serving of short fiction, personal essays, poetry, spoken word, and music. Generally held at the Hotel Café in Hollywood, it is produced by Conrad Romo. On April 9, a special edition is being held in Glendale and the theme is The Legacy of Lost Things, featuring: Aida Zilelian, Anto Boghokian, Lory Tatoulian, Karineh Mahdessian, Lory Bedikian, and musical guest Ara Dabandjian and friends.

Tongue & Groove at Abril Bookstore.
Thursday, April 9, 7:30 p.m
415 E. Broadway #102, Glendale, CA 91205

On Saturday April 11, the BlkGrrrl Book Fair will be staging an extended reading of famed Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston. Created by Teka-Lark Fleming and Skira Martinez, the event will be held at Cielo Galleries in Historic South Central. For those who cannot attend live, it will be streamed online.

#BlkGrrrl Live!
Saturday, April 11, 7 p.m.
3201 Maple Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90011

Cielo Galleries
Cielo Galleries

On Monday, April 13, the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse will be featuring a poetry workshop led by Luis Rodriguez, along with KCET columnist Carribean Fragoza. They will be joined by Kenji Liu as the three read from their collected works. The event will be hosted by Karineh Mahdessian.

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse
Monday, April 13, 7 p.m.
320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776

On Tuesday, April 14, the ZZyZx Writers Read Around will be hosted by Kimberly Cobian inside the backroom of Garfono's Pizza. All genres of creative and nonfiction writing are welcome.

ZZyZx Writers Read Around
Tuesday, April 14, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
5468 Valley Boulevard, Los Angeles.

The Eastside Café in El Sereno will be hosting the writer's underground open mic on April 16. This special edition is titled Mujeres de Maiz, and will include an all-female line up with writers like Iris deAnda. The space is one of the leading venues for Chicano artists in Los Angeles.

Mujeres de Maiz at Eastside Cafe
Thursday, April 16
5469 Huntington Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90032

On Friday, April 17, the Nuvein Foundation for Literature & the Arts sponsors the Poetry in Motion Teen Poetry Contest hosted by Kimberly Cobian.

Poetry in Motion Teen Poetry Contest
Arcadia Public Library meeting room
Friday, April 17, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
20 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia, CA.

On Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19, there is the Desert Writers Camp poetry workshops with Louise Mathias. Join the poets for a weekend of Poetry Writing Workshops. They will be going on a field trip to a famous outdoor art installation in nearby Joshua Tree as part of the workshops. Poets are welcome to camp onsite, motel nearby, or come for Saturday only. The cost is $75 for the entire weekend (camping or not), and $50 for Saturday only. Registration and info at:

Desert Writers Camp
Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19

Yucca Valley, CA

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On Friday, April 24, Holy Grounds Coffeehouse will be Celebrating National Poetry Month with the literary journal ZZyZx. Hosted by Kimberly Cobian, the featured poets include the Poets in Distress (Jessicka d'Arc, Brutus Chieftain, King Daddy, Betty Nude, and Mr. P) and open mic, music, and a poetry writing workshop.

National Poetry Month Celebration at Holy Grounds Coffee & Tea
Friday, April 24, 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
5371 Alhambra Ave., Los Angeles, CA

On Saturday, April 25, there will be a publication reading for the Altadena Poetry Review hosted by Editor Thelma T. Reyna at the Altadena Senior Center.

Altadena Poetry Review Reading at Altadena Senior Center
Saturday, April 25, 2 p.m.-5 p.m.
560 E. Mariposa St., Altadena, CA

Poets at Work with Terry Wolverton will be at Skylight Books on Sunday, April 26 at 5 p.m. Join Kim Dower, Yvonne M. Estrada, Dylan Cameron Gailey, Brett Guitar Hofer, Eric Howard, Kay Sundstrom, Sharon Venezio, Tina Yang, Helen Yeoman and Terry Wolverton as they read from poets who have influenced them, plucked from the Skylight Books poetry corner, as well as their own provocative, illuminating and mysterious works.

Poets at Work at Skylight Books
Sunday, April 26, 5 p.m.
1818 N Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027

There are many other weekly and monthly poetry events. Next week will include another equally long list. If there are any you would like to see mentioned email me: mikethepoetLA@gmail.com.

Whether you are interested in witnessing and hearing poetry or you want to share your own, Los Angeles is a city of poetry and there is no shortage of places hosting poetry. Salute to these venues for being ground zero in the landscape of L.A. Letters.

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