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Poetry & Light in Golden Gate Park

By SF/Arts Editors

"The Alterverse," a festival celebrating light art and spoken word, featuring San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin, will brighten up the Golden Gate Park's Bandshell throughout the month of December.

San Francisco’s family-friendly and free celebration of poetry and light "The Alterverse" takes over Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse for the month of December.

Initiated by the San Francisco-based arts nonprofit Illuminate in collaboration with San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and the San Francisco Public Library, the philanthropically funded month-long outdoor celebration will feature live readings and musical performances in the newly revived Golden Gate Park's Bandshell. Scores of local poets, artists, and musicians will take the stage, with lineups of music and spoken word planned most Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings running from 4pm to 7pm.

"The Alterverse" kicked off early this month with a free public event unveiling two major light-based works of public art that will be on view for the entire month of  December. James Weldon Johnson's words "Lift Every Voice" is inaugurated atop the Golden Gate Bandshell as part of Dana King's "Monumental Reckoning" sculpture in the Music Concourse, while a giant lighted line of poetry scrolls along the 450-foot facade of the de Young Museum nightly.

"The Alterverse" is part of "Winter Lights in Golden Gate Park," a new holiday tradition presented by San Francisco’s Recreation & Park Department and San Francisco Park Alliance. Visitors can explore Golden Gate Park from sundown to 10pm each night with a unique illuminated outdoor journey.

Highlights of a "Winter Lights in Golden Gate Park" tour include the illuminated century-old "Uncle John's Tree" at McLaren Lodge, "Entwined" in Peacock Meadow, the "Summer of Love" lights at the Conservatory of Flowers and special illumination at the 8th Avenue gateway. Then there's the SkyStar Wheel ride, for unparalleled views from downtown San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean. Then top it off with a visit to "The Alterverse" live performance events at the Golden Gate's Bandshell.
Youth Poetry Day on December 5 celebrates young writers from the 826 Valencia writing program. Audience members are invited to add a special verse to the collaborative public poem. Join 826 Valencia on the eve of the nonprofit’s 20th anniversary for an afternoon of poetry readings from the students who are ushering in the next generation of Bay Area poets. There will be live reggae.

Jazz music will fill the air on the evening of December 10, as the Jaz Sawyer Trio and Kev Choice take the Bandshell stage.

On the afternoon of December 12, "Unfinished Legacy: A Youth vs. Apocalypse Event" takes a close look at the climate and social justice movement as it continues to evolve. Featuring Youth Vs. Apocalypse, a diverse group of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color and working-class youth.

Join the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) on December 16 to celebrate Black poetry. Building on the momentum of MoAD’s monthly Open Mic series, this event will be curated and hosted by poet Nia McAllister.

San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin. Photo by Christopher Michel.

On December 19, don't miss the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Showcase. Oakland Public Library and Chapter 510 present poets from across 10 years of the Oakland Poet Laureate (OYPL) program as they gear up for applications for the 11th OYPL cohort. The event will be emceed by San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and will include a Q&A with the poets.  There will be live reggae afterwards.

Poetry continues at the Bandshell on December 22 with "A Celebration of Poet June Jordan," hosted by Alie Jones and featuring Aya De Leon, Thea Matthews and Yv. Etaghene.

Check out The Docks on the afternoon of December 24 featuring six writers from the monthly Black Freighter Press reading event. Black Freighter Press publishes revolutionary books and is committed to the exploration of liberation and using art to transform consciousness.

For a finishing festive touch, celebrate Kwanzaa with MoAd on December 26. It's the 16th annual San Francisco Kwanzaa celebration, and will feature the Village Project and poet Tyanna Braswell.

→ For full schedule visit thealterverse.org.

Main image courtesy Illuminate

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