Poetry & The Art of Immigration

I’m delighted to be participating in this great event with my poets laureate pals: Erica Goss, Parthenia Hicks, David Perez, Sally Ashton and Nils Peterson.

There will be student poems and music, too. Join us!!

Sponsored by many people, as part of the Silicon Valley Reads 2015 program.

Local Bookstore Profile: Los Gatos

I’m highlighting some local bookstores where I have purchased poetry in the past year. There were once lovely bookstores in Cupertino, but alas, no more. Fortunately, in our neighboring towns, there are some lovely ones.

The Village House of Books, in Los Gatos, has a reasonably good sized collection, with a smattering of jewelry, cards, and candles to mix it up. Good section of children’s books (as in their photo above). I bought a gorgeous coffee table book there for my daughter’s birthday in December, as well as some best sellers in hardback and paper. Nice cards.

Support local bookstores! This is a great one. Read their blog here.

Photos from Cupertino Library Anniversary Celebration

I posted an album of these photos on Facebook, but for those of you who don’t “do” Facebook, here’s the best of the bunch. It was a great afternoon and I’m thankful to have been invited by the Cupertino Library Foundation and Library Commission.

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I decorated my booth with poems written by me and by winners of the Silicon Valley Reads contest (March 2014). I had magnetic poetry for folks to play with and my trusty golden poet laureate cup.

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I had some very special guests. Meeting the Cat in the Hat has always been a life long dream! Batman and I discussed poetry about bats. Former Cupertino Poet Laureate, David Denny, chatted up Darth Vader, who commented, that, although the Empire was not much of a poetical place, “I’ll have to think up some Imperial Haiku.”

I also had many community members drop by, play with the magnetic poetry, and create the own poems. Here is a sampling.

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I’m not sure why some of the poem photos are coming out sideways, but I guess that’s okay with poetry.  I also provided a game of “Exsquisite Corpse” and many people wrote lines. You can see the Imperial Storm Trooper above adding his. I’m working them all into a single poem, and will get that up here one of these days.

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It was a great day for the library and for poetry. I’m grateful (as always) to my supporters from the Library Foundation, the Library Commission and from the community. This time, especially to Bev Lenihan, Gayathri Kanth, and Adrian Kolb.

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One final shout out to my neighbor, Barbara Pollek, for making my fantastic Poet Laureate apron. It was the perfect gear for the day.

“Listen, Steel” an Ekphrastic Poem about a Bridge

The San Jose Museum of Art has posted my poem, “Listen, Steel,” to their Tumblr site. I wrote this earlier in the year, and read it on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at their poetry and art invitational, based on works in the exhibit “Initial Public Offering.” I was invited to participate by David Perez, the Santa Clara County PL. It was a really great event, and I’ve been waiting for the photos and video (promised!) to appear.

Each poet was challenged to choose a piece of art and write an ekphrastic poem. I chose Stephanie Syjuco’s International Orange. The poem was inspired in part by research I did on the art piece.

Below are a few photos taken of the event by my husband and me. I particularly loved the rack of postcards. All international orange.

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And here is the poem, with the correct line breaks.

“Listen, Steel”

“Listen, steel,”
“listen,” said the engineers to the towers:

“Listen to the voices of the ferries,
and of the nearby hills,
even the ocean and the sky
speak in voices that count and measure.”

“Steel, you will have to stand
through the changing seasons.
Your name will be taken into the mouths
and onto the wings. Your song
will be highly pleasing
and unusual in the realm.”

“The black water, the grey sky,
the aluminum sea gulls
will look to you for a returned music.
One vermillion bird,
one terra cotta grain of sand.”

“Listen, steel, to the voices,
and with your molecular symphonies,
carry our message of admiration.”

“Our message,” said the engineers,
“will be in your voice for anyone
who wants the news.”

“The bridge news, steel, is you.”

 

Flash Fiction Forum

Tania Martin and L.A. Kurth are “Flash Fiction Forum” and I’m honored to have been chosen to read with them and among the following local talent on October 8, 2014.

  • Dallas Woodburn
  • Liz Nguyen
  • Carol Park
  • Trent Dozier
  • Noorulain Noor
  • Kevin Sharp
  • Nils Petersen, first Santa Clara County Poet Laureate,
  • Allison Landa
  • Renée M. Schell
  • Kirstin Chen

Join us at 7 pm, WORKS Gallery, 365 South Market Street, San José CA (Market St. at the edge of San José Convention Center).

Photos and Friends from the Beat Museum Poetry Festival

What a fun event. Last weekend I was invited to read at the SF Beat Museum 7th Annual Poetry Festival. What a blast. Here are some photos of the event, with some of the lovely poetry people I met.

Terry Adams was the MC and the photo above shows me in the Literature Bathtub with Terry! I’ve know Terry since 1986, through our long association with Waverly Writers in Palo Alto, but I think this is the first time we’ve shared a bath.

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Here’s Erica Goss with the bathtub full of books.

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I took a selfie with some famous beat women writers.

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Another shot of beautiful Erica with more women writers.

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Some great decor in the museum, behind and upstairs from a funky little bookstore.

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Erica and I hanging out with Allen Ginsberg. I bought a copy of the poster and am going to put an “e” between the “o” and “t”.

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Maurine Killough, Erica Goss, Bob Dickerson, and Sarah Kobrinsky (the Emeryville Poet Laureate)

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Gwynn O’Gara, fellow teacher at California Poets in the Schools and former Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, with the current Poet Laureate of Pacifica, Dorsetta Hale.

 

De Anza College “First Thursday” Open Mic

If you are ready for some live entertainment and poetry, spoken word artistry, and a chance to meet new people and see some great performances, join The 4 Elements of Hip Hop at De Anza College for the first “First Thursday” open mic of the year.

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This Thursday, October 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Euphrat Museum. I hope to see you there!

 

Beat Museum Poetry

Tomorrow, Erica Goss and I will be part of this only-in-SF poetry festival. The 7th Annual Beat Museum Poetry Festival should be fun and if you’re in the city, join us! The event is from 1-6 pm, at the Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, in SF, across the street from City Lights bookstore. Many cool poems, and my friend, Terry Adams, as MC. (More about Terry here.)

The theme is “World of Change: Jack Kerouac Is Alive and Well!” and that’s JK in the cool graphic at the top of the post.

If you didn’t know that Kerouac was a poet as well as an author, read a poem or two here. “Everything is perfect because it is empty.”

Prompt #42 Poets, Food, Limes, Love and Death

Food makes regular appearances in poetry: appetites, hunger, desire, love, family, togetherness, physical senses, the body, color, flavor and scent. It’s not surprising that poets, who famously attend to the textures of the world, would use food metaphors and write whole poems in honor of the senses that we savor.

Some of the most famous poems to food include the following:

  • Pablo Neruda’s odes — including these two, among my favorites — “Ode to A Large Tuna in the Market” and “Ode to the Orange.” (If you want a real treat, check out this amazing food and poetry blog, Eat This Poem, for recipes and poetry. What did I tell you about this relationships between eating and poets?) (Neruda is so beloved, his poetry is everywhere. Check out this blog where “Ode to the Onion” is translated into many languages!)
  • Gary Soto’s “Oranges” which from this link can be printed onto handouts to use in a classroom!
  • Giggle Poetry has a whole page of silly food poems, ready to tickle kids.
  • Food poetry is often nostalgic, as in Amy Gerstler’s “Fruit Cocktail in Light Syrup.
  • The Academy of American Poets has a great list of books with food and poems.
  • Even the important and creepy Emily Dickinson uses food imagery. “Fame is a Fickle Food” is a scary poem and should be a lesson to us all!
  • And what about Kay Ryan’s “Lime Light” which is a modern (and slightly less creepy, more compassionate version of ED’s poem)??

I think you get the idea.

Perhaps my favorite use of food in poetry is, however, not silly, or even in a poem about food. When Donald Hall‘s wife and fellow poet, Jane Kenyon, died, he wrote an astonishing book called Without. The poem at the center of this bleak, grim, grief-struck book — which marks the turn towards poems that begin to think about the possibility of healing — is a poem called, “Without.” Fortunately, you can click through and read it for yourself. The reason I thought of it for this post, is because the last word in the poem is “garlic” — a word that hangs at the end of the last stanza — a potent, flavorful, sharp universal food at the end of a poem that can’t possibly end. How can a husband ever finish a poem that describes all the things he is forever without, now that his wife has died? There are other food words in the poem, many sensual and intellectual images, but to end with garlic seems so wrong, so painful, so impossible. It’s a remarkable poem and I hope you’ll take the time to read it. I have never forgotten it, or how strange and perfect that one food image resonates with the universal experiences of love and great loss.

So, your challenge, today, this week, is to write a food poem! I had the delightful experience today of reading at Erica Goss‘s Poetry Kitchen, a new series she is hosting at the Los Gatos Library. I read several food poems that I’ve written. I’ll write a new one, too, if you will.

(Onion illustration source here.)