National Poetry Month meets welcome venue at San Geronimo center


April is National Poetry Month, and the San Geronimo Valley Community Center is celebrating with a host of events featuring literary artists from West Marin. Larry Rippee, the center’s arts and events coordinator, said that although the community center hosts monthly art shows, they are generally centered around visual arts. “As much as we do music and art events here, we have given the literary world kind of the short shrift,” Mr. Rippee said. “I always think we should be doing more for people involved in the literary arts.” The center serves myriad needs in the valley, he went on, providing patrons with everything from food banks to film festivals. And while it has hosted the occasional play or literary event, Mr. Rippee said he wanted community members to be able to walk in “and feel like they’re supporting this art form.” He organized the month’s events with the help of Barbara Brauer, a San Geronimo-based poet who served on the community center’s board for eight years. Ms. Brauer, a lifelong writer, said that her focus on poetry began in the ’80s after she took a class from esteemed Bay Area poet Rosalie Moore at the College of Marin. Ms. Brauer has published two books of poetry: “At Ease in the Borrowed World” and her new collection “Rain, Like a Thief,” which comes out this month. She and her husband, photographer Laurence Brauer, will share an artists’ reception at the community center on Sunday, April 14 for a joint exhibition that features Ms. Brauer’s poetry alongside Mr. Brauer’s photographs. They have previously held a show of their work at the Two Bird Café. “Generally, he picks out photos from the last year or so that he feels most excited about, and I go through and I pick one to write to,” Ms. Brauer explained. The center will also be holding two poetry readings. The first, on Friday, April 12, will feature Gerald Fleming and Cathryn Shea; the second, on Sunday, April 28, will feature Erin Rodoni and Doreen Stock. All of the poets are from West Marin, and both readings will also serve as open mic evens. Ms. Rodoni said she hopes community members who are unfamiliar with or have trepidations about poetry will attend the readings. “I hope that anyone who maybe hasn’t been to a poetry reading or hasn’t felt like that was their art form might come out and give it a chance,” she said. “With poetry sometimes, there is this feeling that it’s not for them because [people have] bad experiences with it in high school. When really, for the most part, poetry these days is really quite accessible and performative and interesting for anyone.” Ultimately, the events are as much about supporting West Marin artists as they are about expanding horizons. “Poetry is pretty basic to the human experience,” Ms. Brauer said. “It’s all about finding that wonderful voice or phrase or poem that allows you to hear back what you think of the world. You read a poem and you say, ‘Yes, that’s it—that’s how I feel.’”