Say the name Pablo Neruda to the average Joe, and you'll probably get blank stares in return (or, at best, a slight dawn of recognition). He's heard Neruda mentioned somewhere, maybe on that rerun of The Simpsons. It's a shame, since "the Picasso of poetry" penned a few paeans to the underclass during his career. Well, the folks at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe, hope to bring insight to the ignorant masses on Sunday, July 11, with a celebration of the Chilean poet's 100th birthday. Local Latino celebrities, including author Stella Pope Duarte, will read selections from Neruda's oeuvre, including El Pueblo, an ode to oppressed farm workers.
"He not only wrote this high, lyrical type of poetry," says Duarte, "but also decided that he had to write for the common man, so they would be able to hear their voice in his work."
Local group Chile Canta y Baila also is on tap to perform. Call 480-730-0205 or check out www.changinghands.com for additional information. --Benjamin Leatherman
Improv class is no joke
We thought this would be a shot at redemption. We'd sign up for Galapagos Improv Troupe's "Intro to Improv" class at The Trunk Space, 1506 Grand Avenue, and--after years of nightmarish flashbacks to our youth--we'd finally be celebrated as the class clowns we always were. But, nay, says Galapagos director/instructor Bill Binder. This class is for serious thespians.
"When you think of improv, you think of the Whose Line Is It Anyway?, quick-witted, look-at-me-I'm-funny stuff," Binder says. "But this workshop is more for actors; it's based on truth in comedy. Honesty and truthfulness is going to be more funny than someone trying to be funny. "
At the end of the eight-week class, participants stage a group show. The class costs $150, but students can pay in installments. Call 602-697-8246. --Joe Watson
Get cultured at the Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix has its fair share of Mexican culture and influence. But, honestly, when was the last time you thought about Mexican culture while gulping down that tasty margarita at Dos Gringos?
Here's your chance to expand your horizons beyond Jose Cuervo and late-night burrito binges. From Sunday, July 11, through September 26, Phoenix Art Museum, 625 North Central, hosts the largest exhibition of Mexican folk art this side of Mexico. "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art" features 400 works by some 150 artists from all 31 Mexican states. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $3 for children. Call 602-257-1222 or visit www.phxart.org. -- Megan Irwin