Poetry at San Jose’s Mayoral Inauguration

Our fearless Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, David Perez, wrote a beautiful and exciting poem for the city of San Jose. Last night he read it at the inauguration of San Jose’s new mayor, Sam Liccardo. Read it and be amazed. Read it and join in the celebration of civilization by great poets. What a tradition!

Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Blog

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Last night I read this poem at Mayor Sam Liccardo’s Inauguration and in so doing shared the stage with Aztec dancers, Spanish guitarists, Christian ministers, Buddhist monks and wonderful host Tamara Alvarado. Thanks to Mayor Liccardo and to all who were present. Here’s the poem! And stay tuned later this month for more laureate news and upcoming events!

JANUARY AND THE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE

I hear shouts issued from mothers, their chords tired and tuned, bidding
daughters and sons: Stop at the crossing and wait for the light

Cutting through St. James park
the voices of women in threadbare Starter parkas
recline on liberated Safeway Market carts
Greeting me with Pall Mall smiles
their cupped hands rise as if presenting
some delicate artifact for my inspection

Where north meets south First, I hear people whisper into palm-sized boxes
of pure obsidian, and the boxes whisper back. I hear it’s the…

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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.

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“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.”

“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.

April 17 museum 1 international orange 1 international orange 6 international orange 7

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.”

 

Photos from the San Mateo County Fair

Wow, “Running of the Poets” was completely fun. I had a great time with a group of truly fine poets and one little boy: Keith Ekiss, Robin Ekiss, Maurine Killough, Kalamu Chaché  and Santa Clara Poet Laureate David Perez. The audience was good, too, which I didn’t really expect at an event known for livestock and screamer rides. The quilts were stunning. David Perez and I had lime cake, which was divine, courtesy of some cute 4-H-ers. I hope I get asked back next year.

The featured photo here is of our hostess, Caroline Goodwin (San Mateo County PL), with David Perez and me. We were exhausted from running and having our picture taken, I think.

This is a shot of Poetess Kalamu Chaché — poetry spiritual leader and laureate of East Palo Alto.

photo by ann of jsb pkc and cg

This is the wall of poem entries. Dazzling.

poets against the wall of poems

Here’s one of me painting a “poem” on an art exhibit elsewhere at the fair. Photo credit by David Perez.

poem with jsb hand smc fair

Here’s a great pig.

fine pink pig

Here are some awesome jars of mango and lemon jam.

mango lemon jam and jsb

 

The rest of the photos can be seen on my Flickr album.