April is a 30-day span with holidays and observances ranging from days of appreciation for bananas, high fives, siblings, honesty and bubble tea to month-long observances of autism acceptance, jazz and diversity. It’s also National Poetry Month, and what better place to celebrate it than San Francisco, which has been a home, refuge and source of inspiration for so many writers.  

Says poet Ayodele Nzinga, “It seems like we have a month or a day devoted to everything. …  I think National Poetry Month is rather significant, though, in that this is the largest literary event of the year in the world. So, that means something. It especially means something for something as ephemeral as poetry.” 

Nzinga, Oakland’s first poet laureate, is one Bay Area writer participating in a National Poetry Month Celebration on April 16 at the Kimpton Alton Hotel in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Local poets MK Chavez, Antony Fangary, Judy Juanita, Sabina Khan-Ibarra, Giovanna Lomanto, David Maduli, Lucie Pereira, Landon Smith and Sydney Vogl also will read their work. The inaugural event is the outcome of a partnership between the Living Room and Kimpton Alton Hotel. Kevin Dublin, Living Room founder, will host. 

Says Nzinga, “He [Dublin] invited me, and I was happy to say yes. I love that it’s a ‘living room’ series at some place called Hotel Alton. It all sounds very poetic to me.” 

Established in 2021, the Living Room champions Bay Area writers and the literary community with writer-focused pop-up events, publishing and internship opportunities and through its interest in economic equity. 

It holds quarterly Kitchen Table events and a monthly Reading Series & Salon in the Mission District’s Syzygy SF, a co-op for the creative community. 

Living Room, a group championing the local literary community, hosts regular readings at Syzygy SF in San Francisco. (Photo by Kate Dublin) 

While the Living Room and Kimpton Alton Hotel previously paired to host an October event celebrating National Black Poetry Day, Sunday’s gathering marks the first time they’ve joined forces for a National Poetry Month show. 

For Dublin, establishing relationships with the local community is significant in that it achieves a greater good. As for the Kimpton Alton Hotel partnership, he says, “We … found we shared a mission to increase economic access and opportunities for writers in the community and provide public spaces and platforms to be able to do that and [for them to] develop as writers. We really aligned on that.” 

He adds, “And it’s a really beautiful and exciting space to be in.” 

Notably, the upcoming reading offers a platform not just for the writers, but for poetry itself, which, according to Dublin, prompts important conversations, questions and contemplation. 

Describing the writers participating on Sunday, Dublin says, “These poets speak to really important issues affecting the Bay Area and elsewhere. They get you thinking, ‘Oh, this is very local but it’s also national; it’s also global.’ They write about topics as far-reaching and ever-present as capitalism that affect our daily lives to being a Black male in America.”  

Oakland Poet Laureate Adodele Nzinga says poetry is “essential,” like air. (Photo courtesy Ayodele Nzinga)

The event also provides Bay Area poets a space in which to come together to celebrate and share their beloved art form.  

Nzinga says, “For me, poetry is like air. It’s kind of essential—you need it. It is perhaps the most distilled and honest form of language. It’s open in its invitation, in its many forms, to so many people.” 

The invitation to the National Poetry Month Celebration extends to everyone, and all ages are welcome to the free, family-friendly event that offers the opportunity to be in proximity to standout Bay Area poets.

Nzinga calls on people in traveling distance from the hotel to attend: “This is your touchstone; this can be the church that you run into to do honor to language, to words, because words do make up the world whether you’re paying attention or not. And so here’s a time to give yourself a short respite where you can come and pay attention to that.” 

Living Room’s National Poetry Month Celebration Reading is at 6 p.m. April 16 at Kimpton Alton Hotel-Fisherman’s Wharf, 2700 Jones St., San Francisco. Admission is free, donations are encouraged. Visit  National Poetry Month Celebration Reading TicketsEventbrite.