Greetings, My Dear Fellow Poets! I hope this email finds everyone with good spirit! As you know, April is the National Poetry Month – Pleasejoin me to Celebrate Creativity with the Cupertino Library! You can register at the link below to view the calendar and attend the event: https://bit.ly/CPL41820. Please reply to this email if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you at Zoom at 11:00 am next Saturday 4/18/2020!
My term ends at the close of February, and it’s with both great joy and sadness that I leave the position of Cupertino Poet Laureate. Joy because I’ve had the privilege of celebrating creativity with hundreds of community members in workshops and open mics, at speaking engagements and public events, and in small gatherings of creative-minded people. Sadness because I will miss these CPL programs and contacts.
Although my time as CPL has come to an end, my work of igniting the creative fires in the community is just beginning. Beginning in March with a workshop at World Poetry Day Festival and continuing into April with four different offerings in honor of National Poetry Month, I hope to see you all at different programs and events in the months and years to come.
One of the things I’m most proud to have accomplished as Cupertino Poet Laureate is the community anthology, Celebrate Creativity. This book is a beautiful collection of voices from Cupertino and Silicon Valley, and it shares over 80 unique experiences through poetry and prose.
It was a true labor of love to produce this book, but it was well worth the effort. Please come out on April 23 at 7 PM to the Cupertino Library to hear contributors read selected works and for the dedication of community copies to the library system. I’ll be signing copies of the book as will the contributors in attendance, so bring your copy to have it autographed by our local creatives!
To view or purchase your copy of Celebrate Creativity: A Cupertino Community Anthology, please click here.
I look forward to joining you all in celebrating creativity with our new Cupertino Poet Laureate, Jing Jing Yang. I am excited about what Jing Jing’s passion for poetry and the CPL program will bring to our town. Check out the photos below from last night’s Farewell Kaecey, Book Launch, and Welcome Jing Jing Celebration.
Do you have photos from last night? Please share them with me here! I am missing photos from my events, and I’d love to have more to cherish the memories. I will add them to the carousel!
Until we meet again, don’t be a stranger! Connect with me on Facebook or join my email list to stay up-to-date on my latest programs and creativity offerings. As always, please send me your creative works, thoughts, and questions — I love engaging with everyone, and that includes you!
With warmth and spirit,
I’ve been busy at work, compiling and editing poetry and prose for the Cupertino community anthology, Celebrate Creativity. The book is over 300 pages of poetry and prose from local poets and writers. It’s been an honor to compile this beautiful collection of community voices.
The book’s release date is set for February 27, 2020.
On this day, we’ll celebrate with a launch party at the Quinlan Center in Cupertino from 7pm – 9pm. This will also be the date we celebrate the end of my term as Poet Laureate and welcome the next Cupertino Poet Laureate.
Mark your calendars and plan to join us at this fun-filled event! (More details to come in January.)
Celebrate Creativity will be available in both Kindle e-book and paperback.
The Kindle version is available for pre-order effective today. If you select this option, the book will automatically arrive on your Kindle on the release date. Paperback copies of the book will be available to order from Amazon on February 27, 2020. While you cannot pre-order the paperback, I will update if the release date moves up.
In the meantime, enjoy the winter holidays and have a wonderful and safe New Year!
Last night, I hosted my final Community Poetry Night as Cupertino Poet Laureate. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to celebrate creativity with an amazing community.
What a true gift I have received from all of you. Thank you.
If you weren’t able to join us last night, you missed a beautiful gathering of community members, poets, and poetry supporters. Like my heart, the room was full.
Standing-room only is a wonderful problem to have at any poetry event!
I began the evening with a discussion of the poetry of winter and the holidays, and we were then treated to the soulful works of our invited readers and the poems of community members who shared during open mic.
If you took pictures, please share them with me! As the person at the front of the room, I rarely get the opportunity to snap photos of my events!
I left the event on a true poet’s high, excited for the new season that’s about to arrive. Those who shared their work provided me with inspiration and food for contemplation. I left with the message to be on the lookout for poetry in unexpected places this winter and holiday.
I will miss serving as Poet Laureate. But my work in the community is not over. I will celebrate creativity and the deep well of creative genius that resides in us all with my continued work teaching and coaching in the community.
If you’re interested in joining me at a future event, sign up for my newsletter!
Below is a list with links to the poems I shared last night. Do you have a favorite winter or holiday poem? Please share it with us in the comments!
Again, thank you to those who came out to celebrate in community with me last night.
And although my term won’t end until early in 2020, I want to thank you for making serving as CPL one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
Winter and Holiday Poetry Reading List
- The Snow Fairy (Claude McKay)
- White-Eyes (Mary Oliver)
- Dust of Snow (Robert Frost)
- The Snow Man (Wallace Stevens)
- Winter Solstice Chant (Annie Finch)
- Chanukah Lights Tonight (Steven Schneider)
- The House of Christmas (GK Chesterton)
PS — If you love poetry and the Cupertino community, consider applying to be the next Cupertino Poet Laureate! Applications are due January 10, 2020, by 5pm. Email me for more information or click here to apply!
This afternoon, I had the privilege of spending time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people: a community creativity workshop. This October and November, I’m leading my last Lunch Hour Language Artists Workshop Series as Cupertino Poet Laureate.
Perhaps it’s because the end of my term is drawing near, or perhaps it’s because the group of attendees at these workshops never fail to inspire and humble me, but I find myself looking more and more forward to each session.
The theme for LHLA 3 is “Poetry of Place.” In the first session, we wrote about our childhood homes. Today the focus was on finding and defining home, and I introduced the concept of List-Definition Poetry — a form I made up that combines the list poem and the definition poem.
I structured the workshop so participants would consider the juxtaposition of “Home Then,” and “Home Now.” I like to join in during writing time whenever possible, and I was amazed by how my brainstorming around “Home Now” centered on the people I’ve met and worked with during my time as CPL and how much I’ll miss hosting these community events.
I feel truly blessed to have had my life touched by so many amazing people and their moving poetry. I can’t wait to see where the poem I started today leads as I continue to work on it over the next few months.
At the start of our writing period, the group and I brainstormed words and phrases related to the concept of “Home, Then and Now” to generate ideas for our own List-Definition poems. If you weren’t able to join us, you can use the same concept as a poetry prompt!
I thought it would be interesting to turn our brainstorming lists into a poem using every word and phrase generated.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Then and Now
Then we were fearless
running in clean air
with the outside cats
through mustard yellow fields
playing with the neighbors
on rope swings in fruit trees.
Then we were joyful and safe
in our backyard adventures
our trust in friends expansive
jumping from diving boards
into swimming pools.
Then we were playful
trudging through white snow
splashing into cedar hot tubs,
seldom lonely and only
Now we are isolated
amidst the tall green spires
in a sea of dusty earthquakes,
suffocating in politics
and exhausting chaos.
Now our expensive empty nests
feel claustrophobic and tiny,
leaving us alone but safe
in our book-filled havens.
Now, as then, we find love and gratitude
hidden in Sunday dinners and boba tea,
waiting between cracks on the sidewalks
and countless cars parked on freeways.
Then and now we are Cupertino.
© 2019 Kaecey McCormick
Free community event TONIGHT!! 7pm, Cupertino Library.
Join us in celebrating nature-inspired poetry. The evening will begin with a tour of nature poetry through the ages. Twelve local poets will then read their nature-inspired work. Finally, it’s open mic time! Step up to share your poetry (or poetry you didn’t write but simply love) on any subject, or simply listen and enjoy.
For more information, email Kaecey at email@example.com.
See you there!
This week, I had the privilege of spending 90 minutes with sixteen fabulous poets from the community at my Nature-made Poetry Workshop. We explored nature through an up-close and personal lens, and then from a distance. I was humbled by the beautiful poems that were shared with the group at the end of the session.
Before we started writing our own poems, however, I had everyone participate in a warm-up exercise called “First Line.” In this exercise, the first line from an existing poem is provided, and the poem is then passed around the table with each poet adding a subsequent line.
Like our nature exploration, this exercise has the poet first focusing narrowly on the line that came before, then from a distance to take into account the whole of the emerging poem. What resulted from each group was a meaningful poem, which you can enjoy below.
Interested in trying a workshop?
Come join me on Wednesday 8/7 from 12:00-1:30PM in the final Nature-made Poetry Workshop. You do not need to have attended the previous workshops to join in the fun.
And don’t forget to RSVP to the Nature-themed Community Poetry Night happening on Thursday 8/8. Details and tickets available here.
Enjoy the sunshine and the natural world in its summer state!
WARM-UP “FIRST LINE” POEMS FROM 7/31/19 CPL WORKSHOP
Nature-made Workshop Group Poem A
after “Packing” by Sampurna Chattarji
I put in a butterfly, first
and a drop of cherry juice
watched its wings turn the color of sunset
in the blazing sun
brushed with the flowers of the clouds
its wings carried it through, to the heavens
into my dreams from which I woke
and rose through the day, butterfly
Nature-made Workshop Group Poem B
after “Replication of Desire” by Lee Herrick
How much delight before we collapse
Thoughts tumble as I grapple with my heart
Hearts expand, smiles abound
We strive to connect to all
Give me ten more seconds, I’ll survive
When you tickle me unconscious
Nature-made Workshop Group Poem C
after “California Hills in August” by Dana Gioia
I can imagine someone who found
a redwood growing in the desert
kelp rising up from a bed of fern
stood there stricken with awe
color, dry sand, green and alive
on this planet, I can thrive
Nature-made Workshop Group Poem D
after “Beauty is brief and violent” by Snehad Vadher
Beauty is brief and violent
Punching a fist in the flour that will be cake
A splash of strawberry icing has lent
Its sweetness to the chill of celebration
Family gathers around and sings, and sings
Until hoorah explodes and the crowd ebbs
Forty years ago, Cupertino joined into a partnership with a city 5,317 miles away – Toyokawa, Japan. Toyokawa become Cupertino’s second Sister City, and the partnership has blossomed over the past four decades. Perhaps the most widely celebrated aspect of the Cupertino-Toyokawa friendship is the annual Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival. And another integral piece is the annual student delegation exchange. “In September 1979 the first annual student delegation of six middle school students from Toyokawa visited Cupertino. The first delegation of eight Cupertino middle school students visited Toyokawa in 1983. Over the years, the size of delegations has grown. The delegations of today are typically 12-16 students plus chaperones. Each autumn, a delegation of middle school students from Toyokawa travel to Cupertino with their adult chaperones” (Cupertino-Toyokawa Sister City website).
On the morning of July 11, 2018, this forty-year relationship was celebrated and commemorated with the unveiling of a new monument outside Cupertino City Hall after the recitation of a celebratory poem written and performed by the current Cupertino Poet Laureate, Kaecey McCormick. Representatives from both Cupertino City and Toyokawa City governments were in attendance, as was the Japanese General Consulate from San Francisco and numerous other delegates from Toyokawa who all shared remarks and commentary on the special occasion. A video recording of the hour-long ceremony can be watched here.
Last Thursday (5/10/18), a group of over fifty people from the community came together to celebrate the power of poetry and prose in many languages at the first annual Multilingual Poetry & Prose Night. The Cupertino Poet Laureate Program joined with the United Chinese Alumni Associations (thanks to Jing Jing Yang!) to put together a transformative program. From our list of invited speakers to the brave souls who shared during the open mic portion of the evening, every syllable imparted a bit of the magic of language to those listening.
As I soaked up the sounds of the different languages, I was transported – across time and across the world to a different places and spaces until all that mattered was the beat of the language as it reverberated in me and in the bodies of those sitting in the audience. We were joined together to share in this powerful experience, and it is a memory I will carry with me for years to come.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a multilingual event, I encourage you to make space on your calendar to do so. I plan to host the second annual program through the Poet Laureate program next spring, and I hope to see you there! In the meantime, please enjoy these photos and video from the event! And if you were present and would like to see you photos / video posted, please send me the files via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Alex McCormick (c) 2018
Here is a clip of Flo Oy Wong reading in Cantonese.
Video courtesy of Mara Grimes (c) 2018
Yesterday (Feb. 8, 2018), I had the pleasure of hosting my first Community Poetry Night as Cupertino Poet Laureate. Thank you to everyone who came out and made the evening special! With over 30 attendees present it was an exciting night, and your presence was a wonderful way to kick off the Lunar New Year & Spring Festival season.
Most importantly, I feel grateful and inspired after listening to everyone read their poetry or put their voice and emotional stamp on the poetry of others. What an amazing gift all of you have given to me and to each other. I look forward to hosting many more Community Poetry Nights during my term.
Over the next two years, one of my goals is to gather work from local poets and poetry enthusiasts, and to put them together in an anthology. If you’re interested in being a part of this project, please stay posted for more information and/or send in your work via email. If you would like to send in a poem from the reading, please feel free to email your work to me for a future compilation!
Here are some photos from the evening … and if you have pictures to share, please email them to me at email@example.com!
Photos courtesy of Alex McCormick (c) 2018.