Got Her Props 

Wendy Brown's dramatic poetry

4/8, 4/12

An iconoclast by nature, Wendy Brown defies classification. But she has been called a performance poet, which is an apt description. Costumes, props, and poetry in tow, Brown is flying in from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to perform at Caffé Med, Thursday evening at 7, and at the Priya on Monday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Brown is no stranger to the Berkeley poetry scene. Mark States of Poetry Express says people adored her the last time she performed at Priya, convincing him to feature her again. Keith Mozier, who lives in the Bay Area, is Monday's mini-feature. Mozier, in his early twenties, is known to many as the "pigeon poet," States says, because he writes frequently about them. Meanwhile, Brown doesn't limit herself to the poet's podium. She works the room with maximum theatricality, drawing those who are transfixed on the drama before them into her vivid, vibrant world. Brown's poetry is the height of spectacle, conjuring up stories of her life and travels, living and loving in Mexico, Spain, and Israel.

When Word Beat host Debra Grace Khattab saw Brown, she felt compelled to feature her and San Francisco poet Jeanne Powell at Caffé Med. Khattab paired the two because she liked the contrast of their styles. "Jeanne is also dramatic," Khattab says. "Her poems are short and punchy, almost like photos. Wendy's are long, like a river. They're both powerful poets, a good match." Khattab notes that Brown has many of the dynamic qualities of a slam poet, although she doesn't compete in slams. "But I could see her winning at a slam, hands down. There is a lot of meat there, which is beyond theater. She is penetrating, and crosses over well." For those who feel inspired, each reading is followed by an open mic. Mediterraneum Caffé is at 2475 Telegraph Ave. For info: 510-526-5985. Priya Indian Cuisine is at 2072 San Pablo Ave. Info: berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com -- Natasha Nargis

4/8-5/12

J'Burg Blues

After apartheid

Paul Slabolepszy has been called the quintessential post-colonial South African playwright, and his 1992 play Mooi Street Moves -- the dramatic struggles of two working-class men, one black, one white, in the grim years after apartheid -- has been hailed as much for its social prescience as for its art. Mooi Street Moves begins its West Coast premiere engagement this week at Berkeley's TheatreFIRST (still searching for permanent performance space), in a production directed by Clive Chafer and starring Joseph Foss and David Skillman. The show previews Thursday, then opens Friday for a run through May 2 at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets: $10-$22 from 510-436-5085. Info: TheatreFIRST.com -- Kelly Vance

THU 4/8

Strong Armenia Tactics

Heard any good Tajikistani folk music lately? No? Well, maybe that's because the indigenous traditions of that country, as well as those of many former Soviet republics, have faded or gone away completely. Not so the music of teeny Armenia, thanks largely in part to the Shoghaken Ensemble, a group formed the same year the country gained independence, 1991. This Thursday at 8 p.m., the troupe -- playing such exotic gear as the duduk, kamancha, kanon, dhol, blul, shvi, and pku, and with two vocalists -- performs at Wheeler Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $26 and available at the door, as well as at 510-642-9988 or CalPerfs.Berkeley.edu -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 4/13

You Slay Me, Sister

Literary fads come and go, but mysteries remain eternally popular. Ask Louise Hoblitt. The author, a member of the national mystery writers' org Sisters in Crime, lives in the Oakland hills and makes free use of Bay Area locations. Her debut Darby Hill mystery, Two Dead, One to Die, puts sleuth Hill on a case that takes her from the Delta to Lake Merritt to Silicon Valley. Ms. Hoblitt visits the Castro Valley Library on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to sign her book and socialize. The library, a branch of the Alameda County Library, is at 20055 Redwood Rd., Castro Valley. Info: 510-670-6292. -- Kelly Vance

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