January 26, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

The Language That Connects Us

The City of West Hollywood has a strong support for the arts, particularly poetry. One of the few cities in California to hold a poet laureate position, WeHo is ready for National Poetry Month, culminating in a 2-for-1 event on Tuesday, April 30. 

WeHo Reads will host a poetry reading entitled “Lingua Franca.” Inspired by Adrienne Rich’s Dream of a Common Language, Poet Laureate Charles Flowers has curated a reading of international poetry by poets from Belgium, India, Iran, and Poland, among other countries. The event features poets Kazim Ali, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Elena Karina Byrne, Blas Falconer, Piotr Florczyck, and Vandana Khanna. 

That same night, Lambda Lit Book Club will read and discuss Midnight in a Perfect World by Collin Kelley.

The Pride L.A. spoke with Flowers about the event and the importance of poetry. Check it out:

Tell me a little bit about “Lingua Franca”… What can attendees expect?

One of my ideas around being Poet Laureate is to inspire folks to think beyond their borders – with all the national talk about closed borders, I wanted to consider open borders, and to suggest that Weho has open borders. True, there are economic borders that make Weho not possible for some people, but generally, our idea of acceptance and tolerance suggest that all are welcome, we have a mix of international residents and that we do not exclude people.  So I thought of Adrienne Rich, one of the America’s best poets who is also a lesbian, who wrote about the “dream of a common language” – that somehow, we can be united through language.  So I wanted to create an event that unifies through common language, so I thought of poetry as a language that unites (see definition of Lingua Franca) that the subjects of poetry – love, grief, humanity — can unify people who speak different languages. 

How did you select what poetry to include in the evening?

So I chose poets who can bring an awareness of different languages and cultures to an event that seeks to display our difference (languages, culture) but also our connection/sameness.  I haven’t selected the poetry per se, but the poets who can bring that to the table. I expect to be surprised by the poems, and I have encourage the poets to read poems in other languages, not just English. 

Is this a “queer poetry” event, or just a celebration of Poetry Month? 

This isn’t a queer event in the sense of sexually different, but it is queer in the sense that we are “curious” and “different.”  But it’s not about explicitly gay/lesbian/bi/ trans relationships.  Are the poets queer?  Yes, in a broad sense of being intellectually curious and questioning of culture and offering a viewpoint/perspective that may not be traditional/mainstream. 

What is the importance of LGBT poets/poetry in the art/literary world? 

LGBT poets represent a significant portion of American Poetry – from Dickinson and Whitman (who probably wouldn’t identify as LGBT, but whose lives and language would suggest they were) to contemporary poets who contribute to the richness of our poetry (Mark Doty, Adrienne Rich, Carl Phillips, D.A. Powell, Elizabeth Bishop, etc.). 

What does it mean to to you to be the Poet Laureate?

Being Poet Laureate enables me to promote poetry on a public platform that I do not usually have access to – to remind residents of Weho that poetry matters, that it speaks to them, that it is valuable to us as a city, as a residents, etc. 

What is the importance of National Poetry Month?  

The importance of National Poetry Month (NPM) is that everybody gets to celebrate poetry – poets celebrate poetry all year round, as do many readers, but NPM really brings the public’s awareness and allows poets to occupy some of the national cultural stage that they may not otherwise get to.  

For more information, visit weho.org.

Related Posts

New CA Law Helps With Transgender Deadnames

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

A new California law requires public colleges to update diplomas and records for transgender students who have changed their names....

MJ Rodriguez, 1st Openly Transgender Actress to Win Golden Globe

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Michaela Jae “MJ” Rodriguez has made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to win a Golden Globe.  The...

Animal Shelter Donations In Honor Of Betty White

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Animal shelter donations have increased exponentially in honor of late actress gay icon and animal lover Betty White. Over the...

AIDS/LifeCycle 2022 Needs More Volunteers

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

AIDS LifeCycle is back with more than $4 million raised so far for the 2022 ride benefitting the HIV/AIDS-related services...

Long Beach Named One of the Best LGBTQ Cities

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

For the 10th year in a row Long Beach has been named one of the best cities in the nation...

Gay Wedding At Dodger Stadium

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Eric Braverman and Jonathan Cottrell will exchange vows at Dodger Stadium. Showing the progress the LA Dodgers have made as...

LGBTQ Haven in Long Beach

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Long Beach is quickly becoming more and more of a safe haven for LGBTQ individuals with its queer spaces exploding...

Gerrie Schipske Enters Long Beach Mayoral Race

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Gerrie Schipske announced on Thursday, December 30th that she would run for Mayor of Long Beach this year. The second-term...

Hollywood Star and Gay Icon Betty White Dies Aged 99

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Hollywood Star and gay icon Betty White died peacefully in her Brentwood home in West LA  on December 31st.  She...

Out Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Announces Run for the U.S. House

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Gay Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced that he would be running for an open seat for the U.S. House. ...

WeHo Urges Residents To Stay Alert Due To Recent Assaults

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

The City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood’s Sheriff’s Station is offering tips to encourage public safety in the community. ...

Fare Collection Will Resume In West Hollywood

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Fare collection will resume on Metro buses on January 10, following suspension of fares during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City...

WeHo Rings In New Year With Virtual Drug and Alcohol-Free Annual #BOOM! Event

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

The City of West Hollywood rung in the New Year with a virtual drug and alcohol-free annual #BOOM! Event.  This...

Attack in WeHo Leaves 5-Year Resident in Hospital

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

Matthew McGrath, a five-year resident of West Hollywood, spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries after he...

WeHo Offers Sandbags To Help Residents With Heavy Rain

December 14, 2021

December 14, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is offering free sand-filled sandbags to West Hollywood residents and businesses as heavy rains fall...