KKUP Interview and Poems

Did you know Cupertino has it’s own public radio station? KKUP (FM 91.5) is a sweet little station filled with volunteers and subscribers who broadcast out of a funky studio in East San Jose.

KKUP from web

Last month I was invited to read poetry and talk about the current search for the next Cupertino Poet Laureate. Pushpa MacFarlane, a member of the search committee and a friend and awesome local poet, arranged the time with KKUP music mixer extraordinaire, David Stafford.

David Stafford, KKUP

David Stafford, KKUP at his sound board (Photo by Pushpa MacFarlane)

Pushpa reading

Pushpa MacFarlane, reading her poems

Jennifer at KKUP

Jennifer Swanton Brown, reading her poems at KKUP (Photo by Pushpa MacFarlane)

I read my “Softball Sestina” (published in The Sand Hill Review 2006) which I wrote for my daughter and her team, The Purple Power. I read “In A Dry Time” which I wrote for the 2014 Silicon Valley Fall Festival, and “Dog Park Rules” which I wrote for Cupertino’s Mary Avenue Dog Park.

I also read “My Elements: Earth” by a student I taught last year while working as a poet/teacher with California Poets in the Schools. This poem was published in If the Sky Was My Heart (the California Poets in the Schools 2014 Statewide Anthology). I teach a lesson based on one by Maureen Hurley, CPITS Area Coordinator from Alameda County.

My Elements: Earth

I shake like an earthquake,
I erupt like a volcano.
My outside is as hard as a rock.
My inside is soft,
a dark brown soil.
Inside, I have peace,
hills, fields, and valleys.
Don’t judge on what you see outside,
look past that boulder, look past that mountain!
Behind them grows peace.
Mounds of green, birds are free!
My soft, underground soil
is better on the inside.
Outside, I am hard,
boulder, grime, and rocks.
When I’m mad, I’m a volcano,
when I’m mad, I’m an earthquake.
Outside, there’s mud, muck, and dirt.
Two completely different sides.
Please don’t judge on what you see.
Both sides of me bring all my harmony.

Alicia Chen
Grade Four, Gomes Elementary School
Alameda County

The rest of these photos show the inside of the KKUP station — I admired the signs and the pictures. All around, a great place!

KKUP sign KKUP poetry KKUP tapes KKUP photos

Reading and Interview on KKUP

Looking forward to this!!!

2012-new-kkup-logo-1

I’ll be reading poems and discussing the ongoing search for the next (#3) Cupertino Poet Laureate on KKUP (FM 91.5) public radio today (Friday, June 26) at 4:00 pm. Pushpa MacFarlane has arranged this as part of the Friday Folk Off, every Friday from 3:00 to 6:00, courtesy of the every wonderful David Stafford!

Tune in!

Code Poetry Hack-a-Slam Success!

It was our first ever Cupertino Code Poetry Hack-a-thon and Slam. We had no idea what we would happen. But, in the end, plenty of people showed up, and we slammed six poems at the end of three hours of concentrated fun. I am so pleased and grateful to all who helped and came out for our wild and crazy tech + art event.

Here are my photos of the slam portion of the event. There was video and I’m sure other photos, but for now, you’ll have to imagine us listening to the lecture and demonstration and eating our pizza.

Table 1 included tw0-time Stanford Code Poetry Slam participant Julian Bliss and “two novice coders and amateur poets” (yes, that’s how these kids described themselves). Both students read about the event in the Cupertino Courier and came ready to learn and work. (See more of Julian’s work here and here.)

Table 1 Bliss with two edited Table 1 presenting with Ben and Julian Table 1 on screen 1

I am asking my friends what computer languages these poems were written in, so stay tuned for updates.

Table 1 on screen 2

To our utter delight, Ms. Ghaidaa Mousabacha (language arts teacher from Morrill Middle School in San Jose) brought many of eighth-grade students to our slam. There were three tables of Ms. M’s students. They loved the pizza, but I think they truly enjoyed the poetry and the coding (for which they had no previous experience!) I was very inspired talking to Ms. M. about her love of teaching and her dedication to her students.

Table 2 wrote a code poem about Starbucks. Three brave souls presented it to the audience.

Table 2Table 2 on screen Table 2 presenting

Table 3, also students from Ms. M’s class, worked on their poem with Stanford Code Poetry Slam founder Melissa Kagen and then presented it with another Stanford Code Poetry guest Ben Allen. Their poem was about Batman.

Table 3 with MKTable 3 batman on screen Table 3 presenting wide with Ben  Table 3 presenting Table 3 presenting with Ben

We had some technical difficulties projecting Table 4’s poem on the screen, but they did a fine job and had the audience laughing. You can see them working on their piece with Ms. M and Ben.

Table 4 with Ben and Ms MTable 4 presenting

A local De Anza College student wrote the beginnings of a very interesting poem about Cat’s Cradle (is that a language?) and I overheard her and Melissa talking about how she should keep writing it and submit it to the next Stanford Slam.

Juhi presentingJuhi on screen

Well-known local poet Dennis Noren also joined us for the afternoon. Dennis brought his background in economics, data analysis and poetry together in his piece. My photography skills weren’t always up to the task of getting poet and poem at the same time, but I did get a fun view of Dennis’s poem while he was writing/coding it!

Dennis presentingDennis laptop coding Dennis on screen

Here are a few more shots of the scene, including a silly selfie of Melissa and me — we had such a good time.

JSB with CupPL poster JSB MK selfie

My most heartfelt thanks to Adrian Kolb for bringing the pizza, and to Chris in the blue shirt who served as our great room and tech guy. The City of Cupertino really went the distance this time, supporting us with space and technical assistance. Without them we wouldn’t have had such a successful event.

P.S. Did you know that there are over 9 pages of programming languages on Wikipedia? I was told yesterday that is is just the beginning. I remember my Dad writing in Assembly Language. I tried to learn Pascal in college. The possibilities are endless.

San Jose Mercury News/Cupertino Courier article about Code Poetry Slam!

The Courier editor Matthew Wilson wrote a great story about our upcoming event. Check it out!

Cupertino: Poetry and computer coding collide at May 2 ‘code poetry’ workshop

20150422__scup0424codepoetry~2_GALLERY

Poems and Photos from the Cherry Blossom Festival

What a great day I had at the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival yesterday. I posted all my photos on Facebook, and you can see them at this link. David Perez, Erica Goss and I did our magic with typewriters and the imagination of strangers.

Some of the poems were especially lovely. Like this one I wrote with a young man, based on his answers to my questions.

Aman’s Poem

I also play the violin
I like kicking goals in soccer
Pasta with mushrooms tastes like happiness
I wear Lord Shiva on a silver chain
My favorite flowers are sunflowers
My name means peace.

amans poem

This poem, I wrote with this dad, because his kids were too shy, but they got into the poem!

jsb and the dad

One of my favorite poems was a collaboration with a sweet young person named Christina, who kept saying “I don’t know” when I’d ask her things. Funny what appears in poems.

christinas poem

Poetry at the Cherry Blossom Festival

Tomorrow is the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival, at Memorial Park. The festival is both days, Saturday April 25 and Sunday April 26, but I’ll only be there on Saturday, with my poetry booth and my poet friends. Erica Goss, Los Gatos Poet Laureate, and David Perez, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, will both be with me (in booth 15) after about 11 am. I’ll be there the whole day.

(Read about Japanese poetry before you come, if you’re new to the subject).

CBFflyer2015

Come by for a chat, for a free poem (written on the spot just for you by a real poet!), to play with my magnetic poetry or my Haikubes (highly in-authentic, but fun).

haikubes

I’ll have books of haiku and senryu, both by Japanese poets and by Americans. I’ll also have anthologies and lesson books from California Poets in the Schools.

I hope to see you there!

Poems from Teen Poetry Workshop

As part of my April activities, I co-hosted a workshop for teens at the Cupertino Library with David Perez. Read about the fun we had and read the poems written by three students who joined us.

Code Poetry Slam in Cupertino May 2

Get ready for the May 2 Code Poetry Hack-a-thon and Slam, taking place at the Cupertino Community Hall from 1-4 pm. Guests from Stanford University, hosted by the Cupertino Poet Laureate.

Don’t know what Code Poetry is? Check this out this link. More details to come.

Code Poetry Flyer v2

Poetry Workshop for Teens at Cupertino Library

Please join me and my friend David Perez, the current Santa Clara County PL, this Thursday evening at the Cupertino Library for a poetry workshop. Celebrate National Poetry Month with us!

I’ll warm up the crowd with a poetry warm up full of colors and David will run his part of the workshop in his inimitable way.

Bring a poem of your own, or come ready to write and hang out.

Register at the library website at this link. Hope to see you there!

Teen Poetry Workshop at Cupertino Library

Photos from Persian New Year Event

Wow. I took a chance on this event and tried something I hadn’t done before. But it was such a delightful experience and I’m so happy we went for it.

On Wednesday, March 25, we gathered in the delightful and perfectly-sized back banquet room of Village Falafel after work. We ordered food and wine, which lent a great relaxed feeling to the evening. There were about 15 of us, including two members of the Library Commission and the Mayor of Cupertino, Rod Sinks, and his wife! (Full disclosure — I’ve known Rod and Britta for many years, our children having gone to the same schools, swum at the same club, etc.). Joy of joys, there were also four people who had never attended a CupPL event before, three of whom saw our flier in the library and one who read about us in the Courier. Joy of joys, new poetry lovers in Cupertino.

To my utter delight, a lady came who studied languages and culture in Iran years ago, and she brought with her some poems by Rumi in Farsi, which she read to us, together with her own translations. It was thrilling to hear the meter of the ghazals, and to hear the repeated words at the end of each couplet, even though I didn’t understand the words. She performed with real gusto.

And even better, if possible, was the presence of three women, Iranian natives: two residents of Cupertino and their visitor from Iran. They brought their Hafez, in a bright blue and gold book, and also read in Farsi, several of the poems for which I had brought in English translations. It was so moving for all of us, to hear the poems in their original melodic language, then to read two different English translations and to all discuss together what we thought and felt. They spoke about how important Hafez was in Iran, and I was envious of the reverence the people still feel there for ancient poetry.

Hafez Roses

This is the poem Robert Bly translated as “One Rose is Enough” — the first line is translated by Dick Davis as “Of all the roses in the world.”

The photo above shows me with my Rumi reader on the left and my Hafez reader on the right. The other two photos I took from the book of Hafez’s poems my guest brought. They are the same poems I had translations of.

Hafez Angels

Bly titled this poem as “The Angels at the Tavern Door” (also the name of his book of Hafez translations). The first line, as translated by Davis, is “Last night I saw the angels.”

We talked about a lot of things that evening. About God, religion, spirit. About spring and nature. About love. About wine and food and the place poetry has in our homes. And we talked about Iran, both historically and today, while the world waits with baited breath to hear of possible movement toward diplomatic relations between the US and that great and complex country. I am so happy to say, it was a perfect evening of poetry and companionship for me, and I hope for my guests.