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Strange Fruit: Portland Poetry Series to Feature LGBTQ Poets in June

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The Portland Poetry Series will focus on LGBTQ poets at their June event, in honor of Pride Month. Co-producer Eli Keel joins us this week, along with poet and writer Adriena Dame, who will read at the event. The series happens in the Tim Faulkner Gallery, once a month, and has been going strong since last December.

While there's always a strong LGBTQ presence at the event, this time will be more intentional than incidental, Keel said. "We decided for Pride Month we wanted to really focus in on that, and not have it just be a thing that happened as we reached out to the poets that we know and love."

We asked Adriena Dame whether her intersecting identities influence her work. She said that coming out changed her writing in ways she didn't expect.

"I thought, OK well that just means that people will know that I'm queer," she remembers. But suddenly her poems and stories were populated with lesbians, bisexual, and transgender characters. "They became all of those other dynamics of an entire population that I sort of neglected in my writing, prior to coming out."

Keel said the series wants to shake up old ideas of how poetry readings are structured, and even who poets are. ("They're not just old white guys," he says).

This installment of the Portland Poetry Series is at 7:30 p.m. on June 8, and will have three or four open mic slots in addition to the featured readers—so get there when the doors open at 7 if you want to put your name in the hat. The event is free.

In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, we talk about the  biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas, and try to imagine how the media coverage would have been different had black urban gangs opened fire on each other in a public place.

The bikers involved were largely white and middle aged, with the oldest being in his mid-60s. "Where are the headlines for that?" Jai wonders. "Where are the people asking what's wrong with middle-aged and elderly white America, that y'all need to ride around on motorcycles and shoot each other with AK-47s?"

We also talk about what Emmett Till (and his mother Mamie) meant to America and the Civil Rights movement. Till's murder will be the subject of a  movie that's currently in development. Chaz Ebert will produce the film, which is based on the book "Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America."

And R.I.P. "dancery." This week, Mary J. Blige revealed that the lyrics to her beloved dance floor masterpiece "Family Affair"  might not be what we thought!

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(Photos: Rachel Firkins, Sarah Watkins)

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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