How often do you go to a poetry reading and win a prize? In addition to hearing a great reading by Jackson Wheeler tonight, my birthday was close enough to the date of the 1994 Ventura Poetry Festival that I won one of the twenty original print posters advertising the event. It’s a nice piece, and from what I hear was a great event. I had the good fortune of meeting Phil Taggart at the Cobalt earlier this week, and he turned me on to this reading series at the Bell Arts Factory in Ventura. I can honestly say the quality of poems presented at the open mic before and after the feature seemed an order of magnitude more sophisticated than almost any open mic I’ve been to in Los Angeles. Hosted by a charismatic young lady known only as Friday, the series was well attended in a spacious, clean (!) venue. And the feature, the open mic readers, and the feel of the place was extremely positive. I feel like I’ve found a real gem in my own backyard.