Erica Dawson. Still from her poetry reading on PBS News Hour.

dR Daily 5/9: Erica Dawson reads at The Dalí

The latest book by Erica Dawson, award-winning poet and director of the University of Tampa’s MFA in Creative Writing program, is entitled When Rap Spoke Straight to God. But when she appeared recently on PBS NewsHour, reading a poem inspired by questions asked of her during her recent national book tour, the legend running along the bottom of the screen listed the title as When Rap Spoke Directly to God. The word change was not only unintentionally funny, like the work of some prissy grammar cop, it also screwed up the rhythm of the title — and you just don’t mess with a poet’s rhythm. Especially a poet whose work rolls and rocks like Dawson’s, whose word music speaks straight (not just “directly”) to the heart and the gut. Fearless, witty, surprising, she dives into realms of race and sexuality in poetry that is at once colloquial and elevated, elegant and raw. Go see her read tonight at the Dalí (along with Nathan Elias, a Canadian poet now living in Tampa). You’ll have fun, I guarantee it. [Full disclosure: When I was editor of Creative Loafing, I hired Erica to write a semi-regular column for CL which she called “Dark and Sinful.” Best. Column. Title. Ever.]

Erica Dawson & Nathan Elias, Poetry at The Dali, hosted by St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Helen Wallace. 5/9, 6-7:30 p.m., The Dali, Will Raymund Theater, admission free.