April is National Poetry Month. The West Hollywood Gateway is honoring 10 poets by showcasing them on its electronic billboard facing the courtyard on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. The rotating display will be up throughout this month.
The project was conceived by West Hollywood inaugural Poet Laurette, Steven Reigns.
“New York has poetry post on subways. Since L.A. is such a car culture, it seemed appropriate to have poetry visible in one’s car on a billboard,” Reigns told WEHO TIMES. “These billboards help educate on contemporary Los Angeles poets, build a greater sense of community, sharing of creativity and wisdom across cultures, build a community of readers, encourages an exchange of ideas and generate conversations. This exposure to poetry is free, doesn’t require tickets or library cards, or even cracking open a book. It is accessible to everyone. The project is a temporary public art project and serves as educational exposure. West Hollywood Gateway serves not only as a gateway to WeHo, but due to its high traffic, also serves as its hub.”
The rotating billboards are free advertising spaces donated by the West Hollywood Gateway. The poets featured include: Francesca Lia Block, Robin Coste Lewis, Suzanne Lummis, Elena Karina Byrne, Elena Secota, Art Currim, Lois P Jones, Douglas Brown, Mariano Zaro and Steven Reigns.
“We have supported National Poetry Month and Steven Reigns’ project for years and wanted to continue even during this time,” said Alexander Bazley, General Manager of West Hollywood Gateway. “The poetry is an opportunity to offer the community a moment of amusement or hope as we overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The West Hollywood Gateway remains open during the current crisis. Essential businesses like Target and several restaurants made changes to protect public health and remain open to serve their customers.
“I welcome people to take a moment to reflect on the art as they travel by or to the Center for essential purposes,” Bazley added.
Due to Sheltering in Place, fewer people will experience the billboards in person. The public is encouraged to share their photos on social media.
Steven Reigns also facilitate the Lambda Literary Book Club. This month’s book will be a poetry book for National Poetry Month, The Idea of Him by West Hollywood current Poet Laurette Charles Flowers.
Charles Flowers will be a special guest to the Zoom meeting and all are welcome to join. April 27th at 7pm FMI: https://www.facebook.com/Los-Angeles-Lambda-Lit-Book-Club-328051133914865/
Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events. Along with distributing more than 120,000 posters to schools, libraries, and individuals around the country to celebrate National Poetry Month, our signature education project, Dear Poet, helps teachers and students engage with the art of poetry.”