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Poet Laureate approaches while Grona closes

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On Tuesday, April 3, Mayor Julián Castro will formally announce nationally recognized poet and author Carmen Tafolla as the first City of San Antonio Poet Laureate. What having a poet laureate will mean in a place that has huge problems with literacy will no doubt underscore this year's National Poetry Month readings and discussions.

"We're working very hard this year to bridge the poetry generation gap," said Poetry Month SA director Jim LaVilla-Havelin. "This may be in part us old fogies wanting the large slam poetry audiences, but if we're not willing to slam, we may not get them." But not all young poets are slammers, either. Monday, April 2, features readings by students at the International School of the Americas at Lee High School.

One of the upcoming literary highlights is Our Lady of the Lake University Literary Festival, April 10-16. Anchored halfway onto Poetry Month, the fest features author, poet, and Four Way Books founder Martha Rhodes reading April 11 and award-winning poet, novelist, essayist, children's book author Judith Ortiz Cofer reading April 12. The OLLU fest concludes with The PuroSlam Road Show with Amanda Flores and the 2011 San Antonio National Slam Team. Poetry Month SA hosts events at many venues, including the Twig Book Shop, Gemini Ink, San Anto Cultural Arts, and several branches of the SA Public Library. For a full list of events, visit

Over at the Blue Star Arts Complex, veteran art gallerist Joan Grona is closing shop where she has kept the doors open since 1992. Her last show will be an installation by Jason Willome during First Thursday and Friday." I started out with a studio space as a gallery: small, no air-conditioning," Grona told the Current. Since then, the Joan Grona Gallery has become home to dozens of local and out-of-town artists. Changes at Blue Star, including higher rents and the planned reconfiguring of parts of the buildings, have led the Overtime Theater to make an exit, while a few galleries, including Cactus Bra SPACE, are waiting to see whether they will be given new spots in the complex. Grona's move, she says, is prompted by other factors. "Now I don't necessarily need the overhead of a gallery," she said. Instead, she'll act as an arts consultant, keeping information and images on her new iPad. The time saved will allow Grona to introduce new collectors to artists at their studios, and introduce her artists to galleries in Austin, Houston, and Dallas. She will also continue organizing art shows at the Radius Center on Auditorium Circle next to the future Tobin Center, and possibly assist other galleries in town, as well. Is Grona, who began traveling the art road as a studio artist, happy with the changes in her life? "Everything has worked out so perfectly for me since I made the decision," she said about the move. "It's that serendipity thing that we have to remain open to. I never thought I would have a gallery in the first place."

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