Leave it to poet T.S. Eliot to dub April "the cruelest month" in his monumental 1922 work "The Waste Land." And then 74 years later, leave it to some jokers at the Academy of American Poets to designate April as National Poetry Month. Ha, ha! Did they think no one would pick up on the irony? Yes, poets still get no respect -- even from their peers. Want more evidence? How about the poetry reading the University of Miami is throwing -- on April Fool's Day! No, it's not a joke. UM will kick off the 30-day tribute to words with an April Fool's Poetry Gala. No dancing or prancing around like a jester will be involved. Just entertaining recitations by three wily wordsmiths: former Delaware poet laureate Fleda Brown, and locals Nick Carbó and Michael Hettich. Festivities begin at 4:00 p.m. in the master's apartment at Pearson Residential College, 5185 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-284-2182. -- By Nina Korman
Gay collegians gather
It is a new frontier for young generations of gays and lesbians. College students and queer youth are more out and proud than at any previous moment in history. No longer do police raid gay underground bars, and drag queens don't get arrested for dressing up. Instead there is mainstream television awareness of gay people. With such success coming out of the closet, the gay community is challenging the status quo and lobbying for legal rights to marriage and adoption. SpectrUM, the University of Miami's center for gay and lesbian students, is organizing a weekend conference that will connect GLBTQ student organizations from throughout Florida. The program kicks off with a dinner at 7:00 tonight and workshops through Sunday, April 4, at UM's Whitten University Center, 1306 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables. Registration costs $15. Call 305-284-5520. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
More than 300 college students stay on their feet for 25 hours straight, dancing and generally carrying on. Is it spring break? No. Winter Music Conference? No. It's the Florida International University Dance Marathon, a day-plus of dancing, games, and other entertainments to distract the marathoners from their pounding peds. The participants will be instructed in line dancing, every hour on the hour, and dance to a 25-song medley finale at the end. There will also be laser tag, rock climbing, basketball, anything but sitting. Of course it's all to benefit a good cause: the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation. The fun starts at noon at the Golden Panther Arena, 11200 SW 8th St. Suggested donation for dancers is $3. Call 305-345-0983. -- By John Anderson
Dancers take a dip on the beach
The 5th annual International Hustle and Salsa Competition shakes the Deauville Beach Resort (6701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) this weekend with a series of competitions, workshops, exhibitions, ceremonies, and about 2500 dancers. Among the highlights: Copacabana Night tomorrow at 10:00 p.m., which includes the annual Cuban Pete award presented by dancing dynamo Cuban Pete himself. Saturday at 6:30 features a dinner and Dance Dimensions show choreographed by Broadway veteran Arte Phillips and starring hustle hotshots Billy Fajardo, Katie Marlow, and an international cast, followed by the Van McCoy Hustle Dance Championships at 11:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $15 to $85. For a full schedule of events and entry fees, visit www.hustleandsalsa.com or call 954-927-9010. -- By Margaret Griffis
Remembering Dr. King
"I've seen the promised land," said Martin Luther King, Jr. in a speech to a packed audience in Memphis, Tennessee. "I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land." The next day, April 4, 1968, he was assassinated. To commemorate Dr. King's life and work, the 2nd annual Reclaim the Dream Candlelight Memorial Service will be held on the anniversary of that fateful day at NW 62nd Street (MLK Boulevard) and 8th Avenue. Join community leaders for a candlelight reflection, an address by long-time civil rights activist and King colleague the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, and a performance by gospel group the Williams Brothers. The event starts at 5:00 p.m. and is free. Call 305-757-7652. -- By John Anderson
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Grin and Wear It
Years ago when comedian Howie Mandel would place a rubber glove on his head, blow it up, and talk as if he ingested gallons of helium, we remember him having plenty of dark curls. These days his head is as smooth as a bowling ball. Could there be a connection between constant contact with latex and hair loss? That's a depressing thought. What might cheer you up? Mandel's gig, sans glove we hope, tonight at 7:30 at Gulfstream Park, 901 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale. Admission is free with $5 park entry. Call 954-457-6210. -- By Nina Korman