Chaos & Kindness Poetry Reading

Last night was such a great event. I was thrilled and honored to see the largest audience to date for an Unsung Holiday poetry reading. We were publicized in the De Anza college paper, so maybe that helped. Here’s a photo of the notice that my son texted me!

De Anza news announcement

I’m a little cranky that I didn’t think to take any photos, but hopefully some of my friends who attended will have some photos I can share. In the meantime, the photo featured at the top of this post is of a piece of art featured at the museum right now, Thinly Veiled, by Mark Engel. It puts me in mind perfectly of chaos, and the beauty to be found there.

David Perez and Kim Johnson were fantastic and moved me and the audience with their spoken word poetry.

  • Kim performed “off book” which put the rest of us to shame. But it’s also a different style of poetry — a hybrid of theater and poetry, a performance reminiscent of a one-woman play. As much as I admired what Kim did, I don’t have that voice, so will try not to be envious! Here’s a link to a performance Kim gave in 2011.
  • David’s poetry is also fine and powerful. He’s a seasoned performer and I love the asides and stories about his work he shared. He read poems about his mom, which I especially enjoyed. You can find out more about David and what he’s up to, with links to his work, at his website and hear some of his performances on his YouTube channel.

If you want to hear David again soon, he’ll be reading Sunday November 16 with Erica Goss at her Poetry Kitchen at the Lost Gatos Library. Check out all his activities as Santa Clara County’s Poet Laureate here.

In addition to my featured readers, we had ten (10!) for our open mic. We put it in the middle of the show, instead of at the end where you typically hear an open mic, and I liked the arc of the reading that created. The energy was up and down and up and down again, the flow constant. Familiar faces read with us and some new folks, who I hope will come again.

The Euphrat Museum of Art is a fabulous venue, and this time the exhibit included works by De Anza and Foothill College faculty and staff. I encourage you to get over there and see the great show. I remain grateful to them for allowing us to hold our readings in such a great space.

euphrat2014-fallx450

“The De Anza and Foothill Art Faculty/Staff Show highlights the diverse yet interconnected work of art faculty and staff from De Anza College in Cupertino and Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Painting, drawing, prints, mixed media, photography, sculpture, ceramics, and more will be on display. The fall exhibition also includes special projects with summer Artist-in-Residence Titus Kaphar and De Anza students in the Black Leadership Collective, and a Puente class Día de los Muertos installation. Sponsored by De Anza Associated Student Body, the City of Cupertino, the Friends of the Euphrat, and the Creative Arts Division.”

Chaos Never Dies on World Kindness Day

The third reading in my series on Unsung Holidays will be Thursday, November 13. Join us at the Euphrat Museum of Art, at De Anza College for two fabulous featured readers and an open mic.

Below, some information from the press release.

Featured poets for the evening are Santa Clara County Poet Laureate David Perez, and the adult winner of the 2013 Cupertino Library Foundation’s Silicon Valley Reads poetry contest, Kim Johnson.

There is no charge for this event, to be held on World Kindness Day, and celebrating Chaos, and sponsored by the City of Cupertino, the Cupertino Library Commission, the Cupertino Library Foundation and Friends of the Cupertino Library.

“The variety of events this year,” commented Swanton Brown, “has enabled me to touch the many and varied groups in Cupertino. It keeps me energized, and hopefully, encourages others to write poetry.”

Perez currently serves as the 2014-15 Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County. He is a recipient of the Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship for Literary Art, a repeat guest on the NPR storytelling series “Snap Judgment,” and author of the poetry collection, “Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse” from Write Bloody Publishing. In 2012, he was voted “Best Author in the Bay” by the SF Bay Guardian. He currently lives in San Jose.

Johnson was named the 2013 Grand Prize Winner in the adult category for the Library Foundation Silicon Valley Reads poetry contest. She won $350 for her poem related to one of the featured books about technology.

The Cupertino Library operates Monday through Thursday 10AM-9PM; Friday and Saturday, 10AM-6PM; and Sunday, noon-6PM. http://www.sccl.org

The Cupertino Library Foundation is a 501(c)3 Public Benefit Corporation with the purpose to raise money to continue programs encouraging life-long learning and self-improvement through the Cupertino Library. The Foundation has the Non-Profit Seal of Approval by Guidestar demonstrating satisfaction of transparency requirements and is a member of the Google for Nonprofits program receiving tools to work efficiently. It seeks major donations from corporations and the business community and from other foundations as well as individual donations and planned gifts and bequests. For further information visit: http://www.cupertinolibraryfoundation.org.

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.

first thursday open mic

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

 

Loving Day Reading Photos

Almost a month later, I’m finally getting around to posting photos.

The second in my series of “Unsung Holiday” poetry readings, the Loving Day reading (June 12, 2014) was a lovely event — we had a great turnout and the venue was perfect. Here is a photo of me with my featured readers, (left to right) Michael Cross, (yours truly, Jennifer Swanton Brown), Erica Goss, and Bob Dickerson.

I opened the reading with Natasha Trethewey‘s poem about her parents interracial marriage, “Early Evening, Frankfurt Kentucky” — which of course has the important quality of not mentioning their races. When she was born in 1966 her parents’ marriage was illegal in Mississippi. Her birth certificate listed her mother’s race as “Colored” and her father’s as “Canadian.”

This photo is “of me in my element” taken by my friend Ellen.

ellens photo of me cropped

The Euphrat Gallery at De Anza College is a great place for a poetry reading and the staff there were friendly, helpful, attentive and smart. Just what you need when you’re a nervous M.C.

Amanda Erica Dave Denny Adrian

Joining Erica (second from the left) in this photo are (left to right) Amanda Williamsen, Dave Denny, and Adrian Kolb. Amanda (who was a featured reader at the April Fool’s Day event) read a riotous poem during our open mic session. Dave Denny, is of course, my friend and Cupertino’s first PL, and Adrian is a member of the Cupertino Library Commission and the captain of my Poetry Posse — without whom most Cupertino PL events would be a mess or non-existent.

Behind us is a whirling sculpture of nails — a remarkable work of art. I wish I had jotted down the name of that De Anza student artist.

“Loving Day” Poetry Reading June 12, 2014

June 12 is “Loving Day” (every year) and this year I’ll be hosting the second poetry reading in my Unsung Holidays series. (Remember April Fool’s Day?)

“Loving Day” is an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states citing “There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.”  According to the official website, there are official celebrations all over the world every year. This year, in Cupertino, we’re having a poetry reading.

I will be hosting, but the poems will belong to my three featured readers:

The reading will be at the Euphrat Museum, on De Anza College campus. 7-9 pm, open mic to follow. We hope you will join us!