Forget June gloom — These 5 L.A. literary events will brighten your week


June gloom is excellent reading weather, but the local literary scene makes a great case for venturing out.

This week is chock full of exciting literary outings: Two books launch at an all-star reading in Highland Park; Maggie Nelson takes the stage at the Hammer Museum; a literary burlesque show swans into Silver Lake; Eve Ensler discusses her new book with Idina Menzel and more.

Here are the best things to do in literary L.A.


“Zarzamora” and “Cruising” launch at Avenue 50 Studio

It’s a double header Friday night at Chicanx arts organization Avenue 50 Studio in Northeast Los Angeles, where readers can celebrate the release of Vincent Cooper’s collection “Zarzamora: Poetry of Survival” and Alex Espinoza’s “Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime,” a deep dive on “the timeless art of cruising.” (Intrigued by the latter but can’t make it? “Cruising” celebrates its official debut at Skylight Books the following week.) In addition to readings by Cooper and Espinoza, the evening’s lineup features a host of Macondo Writers Workshop artists from Los Angeles and San Antonio, including Viktoria Valenzuela, Liz Gonzalez, Claudia Rodriguez and former Los Angeles poet laureate Luis Javier Rodriguez.

8 p.m. June 7 at Avenue 50 Studio, 131 N. Ave. 50, Los Angeles. Free.

Maggie Nelson and Sarah Lucas in conversation at the Hammer Museum

The literary and art worlds will overlap Sunday afternoon at the Hammer Museum, as poet, author and 2016 MacArthur Fellow Maggie Nelson joins Sarah Lucas for the opening of the influential British artist’s first American survey. Known for genre-defying books including “Bluets,” “The Art of Cruelty” and National Book Critics Circle Award-winner “The Argonauts,” Nelson is one of our finest critical minds; the chance to catch her in any context is reason enough to leave the house, but paired in conversation with an equally provocative and intellectually rigorous artist makes this appearance unmissable.

2:30 p.m. June 9 at the Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.


El Cid transforms into a literary cabaret

Attendees of this immersive, burlesque poetry event are encouraged to don themed outfits and vintage formal wear, so if you’re heading over from the previous listing at the Hammer Museum, consider a costume change. Sunday evening’s edition of The Poetry Brothel at El Cid marks the 2nd annual Weird Wilde Pride Celebration, promising “a rotating cast of poets, each operating within carefully constructed characters, who share their work through staged public performances, spontaneous immersive eruptions, and, most distinctly … intimate poetic experiences.” Is it dinner theater? Is it Steampunk? Is it Goth? I’m too old to know the difference, but “a night of grammatical debauchery” — oh my! — sure does sound entertaining.

6 p.m. June 9 at El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. $40-$250.

Author Eve Ensler attends the Wall Street Journal's "The Future of Everything Festival" in New York on May 22.
(Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images)

Eve Ensler and Idina Menzel headline Live Talks Los Angeles

For years Eve Ensler waited for an apology, until, tired of waiting, she wrote one herself. Written from her abusive father’s point of view, “The Apology” is the letter of contrition that he was never able to provide her, an unflinching account that’s prompted interesting critical responses about both emotional labor and genuine reckoning for survivors of sexual and physical abuse in the context of #metoo. The seminal playwright, author, performer, activist, feminist and creator of the international phenomenon “The Vagina Monologues” discusses “The Apology” with Tony Award-winning singer Idina Menzel at Live Talks Los Angeles.

8 p.m. June 10 at the Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica. $27.

Healing a fire-ravaged community at the Malibu Library

The Malibu Library reopened to support disaster assistance just 10 days after being evacuated during the devastating Woosley fire in November 2018, and on Thursday will host a free art therapy workshop for victims of the fire ages 5 and up. Families are invited to create shadow boxes using charred or salvaged items as “a way to memorialize the past and celebrate survival.” The workshop will be led by certified art therapists and is presented as part of the City of Malibu’s Resiliency series, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Malibu Library. RSVP in advance by calling the Malibu Library at (310) 456-6438. Space is limited.

3:30 p.m. June 13 at the Malibu Library, 23519 Civic Center Way, Malibu. Free.