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MARCH 8

“To those of us who knew him, and had our lives and work significantly altered by his sensibility both on and off the page, he was a bit like Frank O’Hara or Oscar Wilde must have been to earlier generations. To be his friend was to be guided through otherwise inaccessible, and in some cases seemingly conflicting worlds,” writes Dennis Cooper in his introduction to Tim Dlugos’ Powerless: Selected Poems 1973-1990, published last year by High Risk/Serpent’s Tail. Even those not fortunate enough to have known the poet, who grew up in Arlington and in the mid-’70s participated in the local Mass Transit poetry readings before moving to New York, can grasp, in such short poems as “Etiquette in 1969,” the mobility and grace Cooper alludes to: Dlugos cleanly joins two vignettes from his clandestine past (dorm-room joint-passing and kissing “a black man’s lips…for the first time”), deftly, tenderly piercing countercultural racism with his own romantic adventure. But it is for the long poem “G-9,” named for the AIDS ward at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, that Dlugos is best known. Widely considered the AIDS poem, “G-9” is an uncluttered, transporting tour de force that encompasses everything from hedonistic memories of the days before the plague to placid cravings for the afterlife. (When he died from AIDS in 1990, Dlugos was studying for the Episcopalian priesthood.) Tonight he will be remembered by local writers including Bernard Welt, Beth Joselow, Richard McCann, P. Inman, and Lynne Dreyer, as they read from Powerless at 7:30 p.m. at Ruthless Grip Art Project, 1508 U St. NW. FREE. Copies of the book will be available. (301) 982-9591. (Glenn Dixon)