Porter’s Pub gets poetic: Intimate ambience, laid-back style and poetry at campus drinking hole

ranted, I’m not qualified to make such comparisons, but visiting a tanning salon seems a lot like reading poetry on stage. In one case, you are exposing your body to the glare of ultraviolet light. In the other, you are exposing your soul to the glare of coma-inducing stage lights. In both cases, shades are required attire.

San Diegans are creepy fanatics of one, and seemingly indifferent to the other. It’s no surprise that an event reserved for finger-snapping, joint-rolling, wine-guzzling bohemians drew a one-digit crowd at Porter’s Pub on Nov. 3 — all but one of whom were female.

Hosted by Associated Students, the Poetry Slamm drew an audience number unworthy of featured guest Brandon Cesmat, a Californian poet who can find genuine inspiration not only in beach strolling, but in the synergy between cultures, land and spirit.

After earning his Master of Fine Arts from San Diego State, Cesmat moved on to teaching positions at Cal State San Marcos, Palomar College and California Poets in the Schools (CPITS). His devotion to writing and teaching is reflected in his mastery of the letter. Hailed as a “man of ice who melts hearts with his words,” Cesmat’s poems are shots of vivid imagery and sensuality, chased with rhythms paired to the groove of jazz music. In “How to Learn a Thing or Two,” Cesmat mixes philosophy with a Betty Crocker-recipe format, instructing listeners to “Bake in summer/ Chill in winter,” to “Stir in no questions or take a step back,” and to “Listen and enjoy whenever possible/ But be prepared to add tears when your tears are due.”

Cesmat’s poems demonize his father’s tumor, aggrandize the domestic routine and even frame politics in a “1984” allegory in “Texas Teacher”: “Two plus two equals four/ But it would be kind of swell if it equaled five or more.”

Humor-traced lines paired with a beer from the Pub are well worth a break from the tanning salon. If you go through true withdrawal, rest assured the studio lights — misdirected at audience members — will provide an experience similar to basking in the sun. The next Poetry Slamm is on Nov. 17, featuring guest poet Bradley Steffens. Aspiring poets can sign up to read at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses.