A beautiful explosion
The Renegade Literari series fuses poetry with music, literature and visual arts
Sacramento’s poetry scene is vast, but the city’s poet laureate, Indigo Moor, believes it could support a new literary fusion.
“I never felt like we needed one more reading, but I wanted to do something that represented my understanding of the arts,” Moor says. “Over the course of my poetic lifespan, it’s been wonderful to work with musicians and visual artists and others who aren’t poets, to create a beautiful explosion.”
So while poets read at the quarterly Renegade Literati event, musicians and artists are also involved. Launched earlier this year, the second installment takes place Aug. 30 at Sacramento City Hall.
How do visual artists perform, exactly? Their images are projected onto the stage before things get underway, during the break and anytime someone isn’t presenting. In addition, they also engage in a 10-15 minute interview.
The series arose out of Moor’s desire to fuse genres, but the genesis of the reading series’ title dates back further.
“A friend in Virginia was starting up a book club and asked people to come up with names for it. Renegade Literati came into my head,” Moor says. “Then later I thought, ‘Why did I give that away?’ I begged her to give it back.”
Moor succeeded. He also received important aid from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, which funds a small amount to pay the artists.
This month’s Literati includes a stellar roster of presenters, including jazz bassist Gerry Pineda, who has headlined with greats such as Joe Gilman, Nick Fryer and Tim Reiss.
“He’s so fluid in switching genres. I’m just startled by what he comes up with,” Moor says.
The event’s lone poet will be Brynn Saito, who has published two volumes of poetry, Power Made Us Swoon and The Palace of Contemplating Departure.
“She’s the poet I’d like to write as; her work is Hegelian,” Moor says. Saito’s poetry echoes the beliefs of the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose work centered on exploring absolute idealism
Also on the program is visual artist Lin Fei Fei, who has exhibited in more than a dozen countries and holds a master’s of art degree in oil painting from China’s Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts.
“Her work is so expansive; she’s gifted,” Moor says. “She’s exactly how an artist needs to be in this climate. She knows her own worth.”
The final presenter, fiction writer Vanessa Hua, is well known in literary circles. Her novel A River of Stars was the subject of much buzz, including a recommendation from Oprah Winfrey and Best Book of 2018 nods from The Washington Post and National Public Radio.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas, who co-hosts the event, says the reading series makes for a great night. “It’s an amazing experience, delivered by some of the West Coast’s best artists,” she says.
For Moor, the series is an extension of his position as Sacramento’s city’s poet laureate.
“Each poet laureate has their own axes to grind,” Moor says. “One of the reasons we take this position that doesn’t pay very well and requires a lot of effort is that we believe we have a vision for poetry, all the arts, that will benefit the community as a whole.”