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.

Reading Food Poems!

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This Sunday I’ll be joining the lovely Erica Goss, Los Gatos Poet Laureate, for her Poetry Kitchen reading series. Come hear! And, come read — there will be an open mic following.

September 21, 2014 update: Here’s a photo of Erica and me, after the event. It was so much fun. I hope to attend the upcoming readings in the series. Photo by Amanda Williamson.

erica and jennifer poetry kitchen

Los Gatos High School Poets & Larry Levis

It couldn’t be a more perfect story. “Los Gatos High Freshman English Class Publishes ‘Windows to the Teenage Soul’. The Ebook poetry anthology — possibly the first of its kind for a high school class — is innovative project to help finance 2017 Senior Prom.”

Quoting from Los Gatos Patch: Los Gatos High School English 9 Honors students collaborated with the Los Gatos Library and Smashwords, a distributor of self-published books, to create and publish what they believe to be the first self-produced ebook by a high school class.  Written by more than 120 freshman English students at Los Gatos High, Windows to the Teenage Soul  is an an electronic poetry anthology — an Ebook — available worldwide through Smashwords, on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, KOBO and Apple’s iBook store. Proceeds from the book’s sales, which begin May 6, will help fund the LGHS Class of 2017’s future events, including senior prom. 

I can’t share a poem from this book (not yet published) but I will share this poem about teenage life and its challenges and dreams.

The Poet at Seventeen

by Larry Levis

My youth? I hear it mostly in the long, volleying
Echoes of billiards in the pool halls where
I spent it all, extravagantly, believing
My delicate touch on a cue would last for years.

Outside the vineyards vanished under rain,
And the trees held still or seemed to hold their breath
When the men I worked with, pruning orchards, sang
Their lost songs: Amapola; La Paloma;

Jalisco, No Te Rajes—the corny tunes
Their sons would just as soon forget, at recess,
Where they lounged apart in small groups of their own.
Still, even when they laughed, they laughed in Spanish.

I hated high school then, & on weekends drove
A tractor through the widowed fields. It was so boring
I memorized poems above the engine’s monotone.
Sometimes whole days slipped past without my noticing,

And birds of all kinds flew in front of me then.
I learned to tell them apart by their empty squabblings,
The slightest change in plumage, or the inflection
Of a call. And why not admit it? I was happy

Then. I believed in no one. I had the kind
Of solitude the world usually allows
Only to kings & criminals who are extinct,
Who disdain this world, & who rot, corrupt & shallow

As fields I disced: I turned up the same gray
Earth for years. Still, the land made a glum raisin
Each autumn, & made that little hell of days—
The vines must have seemed like cages to the Mexicans

Who were paid seven cents a tray for the grapes
They picked. Inside the vines it was hot, & spiders
Strummed their emptiness. Black Widow, Daddy Longlegs.
The vine canes whipped our faces. None of us cared.

And the girls I tried to talk to after class
Sailed by, then each night lay enthroned in my bed,
With nothing on but the jewels of their embarrassment.
Eyes, lips, dreams. No one. The sky & the road.

A life like that? It seemed to go on forever—
Reading poems in school, then driving a stuttering tractor
Warm afternoons, then billiards on blue October
Nights. The thick stars. But mostly now I remember

The trees, wearing their mysterious yellow sullenness
Like party dresses. And parties I didn’t attend.
And then the first ice hung like spider lattices
Or the embroideries of Great Aunt No One,

And then the first dark entering the trees—
And inside, the adults with their cocktails before dinner,
The way they always seemed afraid of something,
And sat so rigidly, although the land was theirs.

 

 

Local National Poetry Month Events

Cupertino Poet Laureate April Poetry Events

April 1 “Unsung Holidays: April Fool’s Day” Poetry Reading with Jennifer Swanton Brown and Guest poets: Stephanie Pressman & Amanda Williamsen, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino 7-9 pm

April 4 Mary Avenue Dog Park Dedication, 5-6:30 pm

April 17 Art and Poetry: 5th Annual SJMA Poetry Invitational, San Jose Museum of Art “Initial Public Offering” poetry and art, 7 pm

April 19 Erica Goss & Friends Poetry Reading, Friends Bookstore, 110 East Main Street, Los Gatos, 2-4 pm

April 26/27 Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival – Surprise poetry games and opportunities for the whole family! Memorial Park

Check out these local websites for all kinds of poetry month activities brought to you by my friends and colleagues.

Erica Goss: Los Gatos Poet Laureate
Starting with Book Launch Party for Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets, Come and meet Erica and the members of PushPen Press for a reading and book-signing, CB Hannegan’s Restaurant, 208 Bachman Ave., Los Gatos CA 95030, Wednesday, April 2 at 6:00 pm

David Perez, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate
“National Poetry Month is upon us, and here are my upcoming events! Also, as many have requested, here is the video of the speech I gave at my reception. If you have questions, email me at info@thedavidperez.com. If you want reminders as events get closer, follow my Twitter @dperezer. Enjoy your poetry month!”

San Mateo County Poet Laureate Caroline Goodwin
Including Tuesday, April 22 – 9:00 a.m., Poetry Reading at the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City