July 6, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Lambda Lit Brings Queerness to National Poetry Month

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the monthly Lambda Lit Book Club will read and discuss Midnight in a Perfect World by Collin Kelley on April 30. The Pride L.A. spoke with event moderator Steven Reigns. Check it out:  

Tell us about the event on April 30.

The Lambda Lit Book Club will be discussing a poetry collection Midnight in a Perfect World by Collin Kelley

Why discuss Midnight in a Perfect World by Collin Kelley?

Collin Kelley’s poetry is incredibly relatable and has a smooth narrative to it.  He writes the kind of poetry even poetry haters can appreciate.  When I became the facilitator three years ago, I decided that April books should be collections of poetry in honor of National Poetry Month. The book club is comprised of such a smart, sophisticated, and insightful group of readers though they’re not all poetry fans.  I didn’t want to take risks in this month’s selection and chose something I’m sure they’ll love.

Collin Kelley is a well recognized poet, having been Georgia Author of the Year Award-winner, finalist for the Townsend Prize in fiction and his poetry collection Render was honored by the American Library Association.

When I became the inaugural poet laureate of West Hollywood, I came up with the idea of the lamppost banners in West Hollywood.  New York has poetry posted on buses and subway cars. LA is car-centric and I wanted to share poetry and poets with as many commuters as possible.  I thought displaying them on lamppost banners was the solution.  I love that this became an annual project where poets are added each year.

The West Hollywood Gateway, at the intersection of LaBrea & Santa Monica, liked the idea of promoting poetry for National Poetry Month and for the past three years has devoted thousands of dollars in prime advertising space to showcase poetry.  My image and an excerpt from a poem are featured throughout the month of April.

What is it about? How is it relatable/interesting to the local queer poetry scene? 

As queer people we’ve become accustom to changing the pronouns in popular songs or poetry. What’s great about queer writing is the immediate connection we can feel, without having to do the work of changing pronouns to relate.

What is the local queer poetry scene like? 

We understand the struggles of writing poetry, of being a part of this under-appreciated art form, and also being a person who is under-appreciated, sometimes hated, for who we are.  

I have taught writing workshops around the country to LGBT youth groups and people living with HIV.  For close to 15 years, I have taught an autobiographical poetry workshop to LGBTQ seniors.  I connect them with the pleasure of writing poetry and give encouragement and a platform for them to share their stories.  This is one of the greatest joys of my life. In all of my workshops I’ve witnessed the power of writing poetry but find it especially important to this group of people who have been muted by our youth idolizing culture.

What is its importance in the art/literary world? 

I have a bias towards autobiographical poetry.  Even if I don’t personally relate, there is a power in witnessing the struggle, strength, and specifics of another person’s life. When queer poets write autobiographically, we are creating a document of our lives but also creating a wayfinder for others

What should people know about queer poetry?

One poet doesn’t represent the entire community.  I bristle when I’m told someone doesn’t like poetry, to me that’s like discrediting an entire food group. It’s also important to remember one poem doesn’t represent all of a poet’s work.

What else is happening for National Poetry Month? Any projects you’re involved in?

I have a long list of activities that can be found on my website: www.stevenreigns.com 

Lambda Lit book club is moderated by Steven Reigns, inaugural City of West Hollywood Poet Laureate. Admission is free. For more information please visit www.lambdaliterary.org/book-clubs/lambda-lit-book-club. The reading will be held Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard.

Related Posts

Local Leaders Celebrate Supreme Court LGBT Discrimination Ban

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

Supreme Court votes 6-3 in case Bostock v. Clayon County, Georgia By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles-area leaders are celebrating the...

City of West Hollywood’s ‘One City One Pride’ LGBTQ Arts Festival

June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

Features a ‘virtual platform’ for arts and cultural events: May 22 through June 30 By Staff Writer Each year, the...

North Hollywood Gay Latino Bar ‘Cobra’ Closed for Business

June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

Instead adopts virtual entertainment method By Toi Creel The effect of COVID -19 has not only taken a toll on...

LA Pride Pulls out of Black Lives Matter March Facing Backlash

June 10, 2020

June 10, 2020

LA Pride organizers face backlash after seeking police permit By Sam Catanzaro L.A. Pride will not be involved in an...

Requiring CA to Collect Data on COVID-19’s Health Impacts on the LGTBQ Community?

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Currently, California collects data on COVID-19’s impacts on different races/ethnicities; SB 932 would expand this data collection to include the...

How COVID-19 Impacts Black LGBTQ+ People

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Amidst horrifying racial disparities, “COVID While Black and Queer” is a new data initiative that will shine a light on...

PBS Celebrates Pride Month with PRIDELAND

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Short-Form Digital Series and New One-Hour Special with Host and Actor Dyllón Burnside, Exploring LGBTQ+ Identity in the U.S. South...

Covid-19 & HIV: Who Are You Choosing To Be?

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

By Staff Writer A free zoom seminar this Friday, May 15, 2020 from 12:00-2:00pm. This weeks event covers Covid-19, HIV:...

CA Attorney General Urges FDA to Eliminate Bias Against Gay and Bisexual Men for Blood Donations

April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a multistate coalition in submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human...

Over 1,000 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed as WEHO’s Rate Continues to Rise

April 23, 2020

April 23, 2020

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed over 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus...

Over 500 Medical Professionals Sign Letter The FDA To Eliminate Ban On Gay And Bisexual Men Donating Blood

April 16, 2020

April 16, 2020

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today released an open letter penned by over...

Lawmakers Ask State and Counties to Collect Data on LGBTQ Community and COVID-19

April 14, 2020

April 14, 2020

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria, Chair and Vice-Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus respectively, sent...

WeHo’s High COVID-19 Rate

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

City of West Hollywood has highest rate of COVID-19 in LA Countywide, LGBTQ population at risk By Sam Catanzaro As...

Elderly LGBT people in California at high risk for COVID-19 illness

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

By Staff Writer 162,000 LGB and 9,000 transgender elderly people in California at high risk for COVID-19 illness, according to...

Coronavirus Blamed on LGBTQ Community?

March 19, 2020

March 19, 2020

Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture.* Aaron Schock out of the closet?* Coronavirus Blamed...