A secret river runs through this city. In stretches, it's disguised as a natural river, with grassy banks, real fish and abundant surrounding vegetation. In most places, though, it's boxed up in concrete channels and sent on its way elsewhere as if it were an embarrassment. And in dry seasons the river disappears altogether and becomes more of a dream or a rumor. It takes a keen and imaginative mind to properly understand the L.A. River in all of its contradictions, and two of this city's most insightful poets and soothsayers are on hand tonight for a reading and discussion titled “Concrete Rivers: The Emotional Topography of L.A,” moderated by journalist Lynell George, as part of the Pacific Standard Time exhibition. The founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River, the poet Lewis MacAdams has envisioned what the restored waterway could be again, through his activism and his words (“Everything I did for twenty years I/hoped would follow me down to the river/as a blessing or a curse”). In her latest collection, The World Falls Away, the fiery South Central poet Wanda Coleman anticipates “a verdant profusion of warm coronets” and moves her body as if to the beat of a river (“the slip and glide of my attitude matching the eternal wiggle of my hips”). Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Thurs., April 12, 7 p.m.; free. (213) 228-7272.

Thu., April 12, 7 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly