Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

In his latest book, Beale Street Dynasty, author Preston Lauterbach remembers when the Memphis, Tenn. locale was the main street of black America, a home for lawyers and businesses as well as a haven for gambling and brothels (with only white prostitutes), and, most significantly, a birthplace for the blues. In St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street, author Ada Calhoun takes a similar look at the East Village thoroughfare where radicals, poets, punks, and addicts lived, hung out, and performed. In these lively non-fiction tales of two cities, Calhoun, who grew up on St. Marks Place, devotes more pages to the street in the latter half of the 20th century, while Lauterbach looks at Memphis before World War I, when Robert Church became the South’s first black millionaire after investing in both real estate and certain vice establishments. Lauterbach and Calhoun balance their recitations of grim examples of hatred, violence, and crime with depictions of the vivid personalities, from journalist Ida B. Wells in Memphis to poet Allen Ginsberg in New York, who inhabited these locales. Expect these presentations, held near the street once known as “Black Broadway,” to encourage lively discussions about race, culture, and the transformation of urban neighborhoods. Ada Calhoun and Preston Lauterbach read at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets 14th & V, 2021 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 387-7638. busboysandpoets.com.