When I first moved to Ventura County from Los Angeles, I skeptically but diligently began investigating the local poetry scene. What I discovered was a diverse, thriving community that welcomed me quickly. I spent a formative six years here, including two years in a low-residency MFA in writing program, trying out new poems at the Artists’ Union Gallery on Tuesday nights.
How perfect then, having been featured at one of the first “Friday on Saturday” readings five years ago, to read poems from my new collection Human Shade to the community that has become a poetic family to me. Doris once again baked cookies, which prompted a man from the street to burst in while I was reading a poem. Fortunately Friday, outwardly graceful, but with a core of steel, makes not only a lovely emcee but an efficient bouncer. I re-read the poem.
I will miss this enthusiastic and quirky community of artists and word lovers. While this was my last featured reading before we leave for London, I do have two ensemble readings schedule for April: at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum on Sunday, April 10th at 7:00 PM, and at Frank Picture Gallery in Santa Monica on Thursday, April 14th at 8:00 PM. If you are in Southern California, perhaps I will see you there for a little sweet sorrow before I go.
“I’m glad to be here. At my age, I’m glad to be anywhere.” So Doris, at 83, opened her featured reading at the Bell Arts Factory in Ventura with all the fire and energy of a sixteen year old. In addition to delightful, and often (refreshingly) funny poems she brought cookies that were out of this world. If you are in the Los Angeles / Ventura / Santa Barbara area and you haven’t discovered this new reading series yet, you are in for a treat: the venue is fantastic, the people are real, and the quality of work is a cut above. Kudos to Friday Lubina for hosting another great evening.
I had the privilege of attending a celebration of (Cafe) SOLO and its patron saint, Glenna Luschei tonight at the Artists’ Union Gallery in Ventura. Hosted by its principal editors, Kevin Patrick Sullivan, Chryss Yost, and Jackson Wheeler, the event celebrating a magnificent forty years of publication featured forty poets published in this iconic literary periodical. Poets gathered here to read from Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo counties as well as one poet from New York. Just a few of the remarkable readers gathered this evening included: the omnipresent Richard Beban, Doris Vernon, Enid Osborne, Teka-Lark Lo, Mel Weisberg, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Barry Spacks, and my own master class teacher and the coordinator of the LA Poetry Festival, Suzanne Lummis. Poets spoke of and paid tribute to the generous spirit of Glenna Luschei and the achievement of such a long run of such a venerable and significant publication. The place was packed, the night was warm. I’m told the cake was excellent. Better still, the poetry, the spirit of the place, and the celebration.