Book Bites: It’s time to rhyme with National Poetry Month

Poems are celebrated during April at the Sacramento Poetry Center.
Poems are celebrated during April at the Sacramento Poetry Center. Sacramento Bee file

April is National Poetry Month, led by the Academy of American Poets at It will sponsor Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 21, which works like this: Choose a poem, put it in your pocket or purse and share it with everyone in person or on Twitter at #pocketpoem.

Or join the 350,000 poetry lovers who have registered for the free Poem-a-Day, a digital series that spreads previously unpublished poetry via email and social media.

Special-related events are on agendas around town (including at some bookstores), such as:

▪  The Sacramento Poetry Center hosts poets and open-mike nights at 7:30 p.m. Mondays, 1719 25th St., Sacramento; (916) 240-1897. Its annual poetry conference of workshops and readings will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 30 ($30; students $15).

▪  Luna’s Cafe will feature special events, plus its regular “Poetry Unplugged” at 8 p.m. Thursdays; 1414 16th St., Sacramento; (916) 441-3931,

▪  The Sacramento Central Library and its 27 branches will hold Poetry Month-related events; (916) 264-2920,

Literary gold rush

Tickets are available now for the 11th annual Gold Rush Writers Conference, Friday-Sunday, April 29-May 1, at the historic Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill. Writers, poets and journalists will share their expertise in workshops, panels and lectures. The freight is $185 (includes three meals). For details and to register: 209-286-1320,

Founding director Antoinette May is the best-selling author of “The Determined Heart,” “The Sacred Well” and “Pilate’s Wife.”

On the edge of salvation

Most of the debut novels that arrive here at Reading Central come with publicity releases filled with purple-prose blurbs solicited from established authors and selectively aggregated from passages in book reviews. “Gripping,” “stunning” and “brilliant” are some of the most common adjectives.

In the case of “Dodgers” by Bill Beverly, there can’t be too many accolades (Crown, $27, 304 pages). Think of it as a coming-of-age tale with menace and dark sentimentality. A teenage gang member and three cohorts who have never been out of L.A. are dispatched on a cross-country journey to murder a witness set to testify against the gang’s adult leader. What happens along the way and after the fact is, to use my own adjectives, “harrowing,” “wrenching” and “redemptive.”