Steven Reigns

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Steven Reigns
Born (1975-11-11) 11 November 1975 (age 42)
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Occupation Poet, Educator
Nationality United States
Alma mater The University of South Florida
Antioch University
Period 21st Century
Genre poetry
Notable works Inheritance, The Gay Rub, In The Room, 3-Pack Jack
Notable awards

Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist in Residency Grant for 2007, 2009, 2011-2015

City Poet of West Hollywood 2014-2016

Steven Reigns (born 1975) is an American poet, artist and activist.[1]


Early years[edit]

Reigns grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. From an early age, he sought refuge from a troubled home life in local libraries where he discovered the writers who would have a huge impact on his own work: Sapphire, Essex Hemphill, Dorothy Allison, Edmund White, Christopher Bram, Anaïs Nin, Irene Zahava, Amy Scholder, John Preston and Audre Lorde.


Reigns graduated from the University of South Florida, where he wrote a bi-monthly column for TLW magazine, with a degree in Creative Writing.

He has a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University.[2]

He was elected as West Hollywood's inaugural City Poet for a two-year term beginning in October 2014.[3]

Reigns was selected as "Someone to Watch in 2015" by The Advocate Magazine.[4]

Library Activism[edit]

Reigns has cited public libraries and librarians as a major influence on his development as an artist and activist. He has campaigned in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer programming in libraries.

In 2004 he organized 'Loving in Fear', an LGBQT literary event in response to Hillsborough County's lack of gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer programming.[5] He recounted the experience in a Watermark Magazine article about National Library Week.[6] He was the first to speak to the commissioners about their discriminatory policy at the library.[7]

He was Literary Director for The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Center of Tampa for two years.[8]

Reigns has been keynote speaker at Rollins College,[9] Stonewall Library,[10] and at the American Library Associations Annual Breakfast.[11]

HIV/AIDS Activism[edit]

Reigns headed a program in Pinellas County doing HIV outreach to and testing of minorities in the inner city.[12] He has also assisted on a panel with Los Angeles County on standards of care for HIV. In 2011, he ran a support group that utilized film as a projective tool at Being Alive.[13]

In 2012, he published an essay in Frontiers Magazine on the need for new AIDS narratives in cinema and literature.[14] He also published a poem about the so-called AIDS "patient zero" Gaëtan Dugas.[15][16]

Artistic Projects[edit]

The Gay Rub[edit]

The Gay Rub is a participatory art project gathering rubbings from historically significant LGBQT public memorials across the globe.[17][18] Reigns collected many of the rubbings himself, but others are encouraged to find local markers and participate by contributing their own rubbing. The collection functions as an archive of public monuments to important moments and individuals in the struggle for LGBQT rights, and it has been exhibited at public galleries[19] and universities[20] across the U.S.A. Reigns began working on the Gay Rub in 2011, and there are currently more than 200 rubbings in the collection, including the only extant rubbing of a brass plaque honoring Harvey Milk that was stolen from its San Francisco location in 2011.[21]

The Gay Rub collection has been praised as "relational art, and the fact that this work is participatory, but it also speaks to a broader way of understanding relationships. I think any time that we can sort of find a history that has been lost is one of the ways of making up for the ills of the past".[22]

Other Art Projects[edit]

Reigns has participated in several collaborative online projects, such as Heather Champs' Mirror Project[23] and Anni Holm's Getting My Name Out There.[24] He was also a character in Hilary Goldberg's In The Spotlight.

His artwork has been shown in galleries throughout the U.S.A including at The Advocate gallery part of Rainbow Gobblins exhibit in May 2007.[25]

From 2007 to 2014, Reigns undertook a 7 years living/art project under the mentorship of Linda Montano,[26] S(t)even Years.

Audio-visual Media[edit]

Reigns and his work have been featured in a variety of other media, including:

  • Cameo appearances as a "homo hommie" in Jonny McGovern's video Dickmatized [27] and as a partier in Texting on the Dance Floor [28]
  • Guest on Jonny McGovern's Gayest of All Time podcast [29][30]
  • Co-host of IMRU Radio, the nations longest running LGBT radio show [31] With some of his segments airing nationally on This Way Out[32]
  • As City Poet, Reigns introduced the Get Lit Players on KPFK [33]
  • Featured in Dean Littner's 64 min documentary on the My Life is Poetry Class [34][35]
  • His poem Domicilium [36] was put to music and performed by One Voice Chorus in North Carolina [37]
  • Two poems by Reigns are used in Hunter Lee Hughes' black-and-white feature film Guys Reading Poems.[38] Reigns is only one of two living poets whose work was used in the film. Recipe Box and Put Your Head on my Shoulder both from his second collection Inheritance are featured in the film.[39][40]

Scholarly Work[edit]

Reigns is still motivated by his early reading in the libraries of St. Louis. He is an Anaïs Nin scholar[41] and presented at The Sapphire Symposium.[42]

Anaïs Nin Scholarship[edit]

In February 2008, Reigns organized Anaïs Nin @ 105 at the Hammer Museum. Reigns said, "Nin bonded and formed very deep friendships with women and men decades younger than her. Some of them are still living in Los Angeles and I thought it'd be wonderful to have them share their experiences with (Nin),"[43] It was through the event Reigns met Bebe Barron, who made her last public appearance at Anais Nin @ 105. Reigns spoke at Bebe Barron's memorial.[44]

Reigns also combed through Nin's original diaries to investigate the validity of Bern Porter's claims of his sexual relationship in the 1930s with Anaïs Nin, which were published as a series of interviews in the 1990s. Reigns' essay refuting Porter's claims, Bern Porter's Wild Sexual Life with Anais Nin or Wild Imaginings? was published in Café in Space and Thinking of Anaïs Nin.[45][46]

Reigns' poem 'Anaïs Nin Never Bought a Car' was published in Divining Divas: 100 Gay Poets on Their Muses.[47]

Steven Reigns also facilitated the public re-release of an audio book by Nin. Reigns loaned his rare 1949 pink vinyl recording of House of Incest, created by Louis and Bebe Barron, for it to be mass distributed.[48]

Reigns owns a large collection of Nin memorabilia and ephemera, one item is a copy of Marcel Proust's Albertine disparue, once owned by Nin.[49] In the book are lines underlined by Henry Miller with notes are written in the margin by both Nin and Miller. The Albertine character was an important figure for Nin and Miller as he provided a reference point to talk about June and subsequently their own relationship.[49]

Reigns also organized and curated Anais Nin's Influence: Women who Knew Nin Talk About her Writing, Her Life and Their Friendship with Her at the West Hollywood Library.[50][51] Reigns said of Nin and the event: "The struggles of life, love, and artistry Nin documented in detail daily. Her life and writings are more relevant now than ever. Hearing firsthand from women who Nin is an exceptional experience."[52]

In January 2016, Reigns co-produced an event at Antioch University Santa Barbara, The Allure of Anaïs Nin,[53]


Reigns has taught writing workshops for over 15 years. Starting by teaching to LGBT youth groups across the US,[54] he then taught workshops for HIV+ people,[55] and for the past 10 years as taught to LGBT Seniors at The Center. His workshop My Life is Poetry is the first of its kind in the country and resulted in a book of the students writings edited by Reigns.[56] As part of his tenure as City Poet, he taught free writing workshops for National Poetry Month in West Hollywood, CA.[3] Filmmaker Dean Littner, made a 2014 Documentary about the 2013 My Life Is Poetry reading by Reigns' students.[35]


Reigns has written two collections of books of poetry. His first, Your Dead Body is My Welcome Mat(2001), was published at age 25.[57] May 2011 saw the publication of Reigns' second collection by Sibling Rivalry Press, Inheritance.[58] This was praised as "an unadorned picture of a troubled childhood made all the more powerful by his use of simple, direct language and an economy of words that draws aside the curtain of metaphor and puts these episodes into the dangerous language of reality.".[59] The collection was selected by Lambda Literary Foundation's My Story Book Club.[60][61]

Reigns has also published chapbooks, including Ignited(2006), Cartography(2007) and Stu(2014). He has been published in Velvet Mafia, a poetry chapbook on gay and lesbian response to war, Outside the Green Zone, and was Mr. November in the Most Intriguing and Sensual Male Poet Calendar(2006).

In June 2008, Reigns edited the anthology My Life is Poetry. This represented the first of its kind, a book of autobiographical poetry by gay, lesbian, and bisexual seniors. The preface was written by Dorothy Allison and portraits were taken by Jenny Walters.[62][63]

July 2015 saw the publication of 3-Pack Jack, a three book set edited by Reigns based on performance nights he curated at Akbar, Los Angeles, as part of Apt3F performance series. Independent curator and award-winning small-press publisher Darin Klein published the book set with graphic artist Christopher Kardambikis.[64]

Recent Work[edit]

  • Reigns wrote an article in defense of transgender writer and activist Kate Bornstein[65]
  • Reigns' short story in the Foolish Hearts, On These Sheets,[66] a Rainbow Book Finalist, has been praised as a standout, "the shortest story in the anthology it is also one of the most reflective" [66][67] and "On These Sheets is almost flash-fiction, it's so short, but it's a very sweet story and Reigns does a great job painting this relationship in such a short amount of pages. It just works so well." [68]


  1. ^ Steven Reigns :: Poet, Artist, Educator
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  5. ^ Citytimes: Literary showcase honors gay authors
  6. ^ Watermark Online - Florida's Distinctive Gay & Lesbian Publication
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  8. ^ Velvet Mafia's Hit List - Contributor's Bios Issue 17
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  12. ^ State: For blacks, AIDS silent epidemic
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  23. ^ The Mirror Project | Steven Reigns | Valentine's Day
  24. ^ Web Biennial 2007 - Anni Holm - Getting My Name Out There: Steven Reigns, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, USA
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  41. ^ Book Tastings
  42. ^ ASU Department of English Special Feature
  43. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
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See also[edit]