Steven Reigns is set to be honored with the “Cross-Cut Award” on Thursday, January 5th at the monthly “Guys Reading Poems” open mic poetry night. Scheduled guests include poets Francesca Lia Block (“Weetzie Bat”), Laurel Ann Bogen and Elena Secota, actors Ethan Rains and Ronnie Kroell, playwright Ronnie Larsen and more. The event will be hosted by Guys Reading Poems director Hunter Lee Hughes.
Mr. Reigns is the first to receive the “Cross-Cut Award”, which is expected to be given twice a year from now on. In film editing terminology, a cross-cut sequence is one where the movie jumps back and forth between two contrasting scenes. It’s a tactic editors employ to build suspense or create a deeper understanding of the protagonist by subtly relating the action in one scene with a completely different set of events. A classic example would be the cross-cut sequence between the mafia murders in various parts of town with newly minted criminal mastermind Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) attending a baptism in The Godfather.
Artists, like movie characters, are often pulled in different directions, sometimes just to survive. And just as The Godfather cross-cut sequence reveals both the light and the dark side of Michael Corleone, the synthesis of a multi-faceted artist’s life can be riveting to observe. The “Cross-Cut Award” seeks to honor artists whose life and career overlaps two different arenas, with both pursuits informing and enriching the other. In the case of Steven Reigns, we honor his esteemed poetry career as well as his commitment to community service. Certainly, Steven’s resume as a poet is outstanding: he was appointed the first City Poet by the City of West Hollywood in 2014 after publishing the collections Inheritance (Sibling Rivalry, 2011), Your Dead Body is My Welcome Mat (Burning Page Press, 2011) and dozens of chapbooks. He’s also a leader in the West Hollywood community. Steven has taught and mentored senior citizen poets for more than ten years, and produces the annual My Life is Poetry reading, which culminates his class. He also works as a licensed psychotherapist and cut his teeth for a decade in that field counseling those facing an HIV-positive diagnosis.
Steven writes poems. Cross-Cut. Steven stands at a lectern, reciting the poem of a deceased student. Cross-Cut. Steven writes more poems. Cross-Cut. Steven tells a young man the difficult news that his HIV-status has changed. The counselor and mentor in Steven cross-cuts with the insightful poet in Steven almost too perfectly in “Recipe Box,” a short piece that depicts Steven’s advice on how to grieve a long list of friends lost during the AIDS crisis, with the title of the poem encompassing the idea of his main suggestion.
Things in Steven’s life may not exactly echo The Godfather – he’s never shot anyone (to our knowledge). But inevitable grief and its unwanted home in the body provided a sort of baptism for Steven Reigns. And so we honor him with the first “Cross-Cut Award.”
“Guys Reading Poems” (open mic edition) – inspired by the feature film of the same name – takes place the first Thursday of every month at Shaky Alibi (7401 Beverly Boulevard, LA 90036) and runs 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Performers may present original work or perform public domain poetry of their choice. We encourage all skill levels to participate. The readers’ list for January is full; however, interested poets and performers may join the waitlist by texting “RSVP” to (424) 34-POEMS. Anyone on the waitlist for January that is precluded from reading due to time constraints will be guaranteed a slot for our February event. All performers are asked to keep their selection to one poem running less than three minutes. The poem “Recipe Box” – featured in the film Guys Reading Poems and in Steven’s book Inheritance – will be read during our January show.