April Literary Events

Saturday, April 10
It doesn't take a Shepard Fairey to figure out that good political posters, like good political ideas, stand the test of time. Or, relatedly, that in order to get ahead in this world, political ideas sometimes need help from political posters. That's where you come in. Yes, you. Well, you and a few other people — including Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza of Dignidad Rebelde, an Oakland-based hub of graphic arts and activism, who will lead a printmaking workshop this afternoon. All the great movements have great art, and Cervantes and Barraza have an inspiring slideshow of cases in point. After sharing that, they'll get you working on your own, drawing your way toward social change, community cohesion, and better stuff to hang on your wall than free PR for some douchey band. ¡REBELATE! Radical Poster Making for Our Liberation takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th St.), S.F. 282-9246, free; www.moderntimesbookstore.com

Tuesday, April 13
Imagine trying to sum up Van Morrison's career. You'd have to be Greil freaking Marcus to get that story straight. Oh, wait: Greil freaking Marcus apparently already has done it, in his new book, When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison (PublicAffairs, $23). That's handy. Now, by way of a brief tantalizing excerpt, here's the local culture-crit chieftain on Morrison's "T.B. Sheets": "Who wanted to listen to an endless, cynical number about a woman dying of tuberculosis, closer to a bilious stand-up routine than a song, when the air was filled with 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)'"? And yet some of us, at least, might want to listen to the author making this and related observations in a bookstore. Do so at 7:30 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. 863-8688, free; www.booksmith.com.  

Saturday, April 17
One good reason to catch poet Melissa Broder reading from her collection, When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother (Ampersand, $14), which includes such San Francisco–specific poems as "What the Hell Happened to You?" and "A Hunter's Point of the Liver," is for the chance to ask her: What gives with writing all this great stuff about the City by the Bay but then moving to New York, eh? Eh? Maybe it's because, as Broder writes in "Falling off the Richter Scale," "The Spanish were insane/to build a fort at the Golden Gate and the Dead/are dead. There's a landfill being made." Local filmmaker, poet, and Literary Death Match champion D.W. Lichtenberg also will be present with his book, The Ancient Book of Hip (Fourteen Hills Press, $12), plus L.A. comedian Dava Krause. Poetry Is a Joke is the event's official title. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (at Sycamore), S.F. 552-7788, free; www.elbo.com.

Sunday, April 18
It's time for the annual Northern California Book Awards, by which local critics convey their appreciation to local authors for writing great books. It may seem obvious, but critics are especially sensitive to the fact that authors don't always write great books, and accordingly grateful when they do. The categories are fiction, general nonfiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, translation, and children's literature, with at least five heavy-hitters nominated in each category — plus City Lights Booksellers and Publishers co-owner Nancy Peters will be receiving this year's Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement. The ceremony takes place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F., followed by a book signing and reception with the nominated authors (whose books will be for sale) in the Latino/Hispanic Room from 2:30 to 4. Free; 557-4400 or www.sfpl.org.

Tuesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 29
Twentysomething author Nick McDonell began cranking out books at the tender age of 18, whereupon Hunter S. Thompson wrote, "I'm afraid he will do for his generation what I did for mine." No pressure. After three novels and much world travel, McDonell will be in San Francisco to share his newest book, The End of Major Combat Operations (McSweeney's, $13), an account of his experience as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Army in Iraq. He'll be joined Tuesday evening at 7:30 at the Marina branch of Books Inc. (2251 Chestnut at Avila, 931-3633, www.booksinc.net), by local authors Daniel Handler and Tom Barbash, each in turn reading original pieces from McSweeney's 34, a joint publication with McDonell's book. Then, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, at Book Passage in the Ferry Building (Market at Embarcadero, 835-1020, www.bookpassage.com), McDonell will read again, this time with Barbash and local author Peter Orner, who edited the oral history book Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives for McSweeney's Voice of Witness series ($24). After that, who knows what McDonell might get up to? Both events are free.

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