Reading at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum

Last night’s reading at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, as part of the Santa Barbara Poetry Series, was a delicious immersion in art. The Forum is a small but well-appointed gallery bedecked with shockingly good contemporary art. Accomplished flautist Stephanie J. Miller played interesting excerpts from a wide range of repertoire before and after the reading, and during intermission. A little wine and chocolate completed the mood, as the more bohemian side of Santa Barbara mingled and munched, sipping well-chosen words.

Glenna Luschei read from her two most recent collections, Salt Lick and Witch Dance, the latter of which is dedicated to the memory of her husband. Her poems are casually observational, but while the themes are clearly cohesive, no line could be predicted on the basis of the previous line. Her poems thereby give voice to the workings of a truly unique turn of mind. There is no one quite like her.

Dan Gerber gave a tribute to Barry Spacks, and to the dignity and integrity with which he has become an elder poet in the community. Dan’s work is deep, spare, with often haiku-like intensity and grace. Not without wit, he also read a poem dedicated to the many ticks that have taken communion at his expense. It seems to me we were all nourished that night by some small amount of blood from Dan Gerber’s heart.

Judith Petraitis read a few longer poems touching upon themes from her childhood in the rural Midwest. She read tributes to her mother and father, and opened up the vast expanse of a prairie dusk with gradual, ever-developing, image-rich poems.

Carol DeCanio gave us each a lovely introduction, and supported a small, friendly team of volunteers in facilitating a very classy event. This seems like a perfect way to end my three-readings-in-three-consecutive-weekends mini-marathon, and a perfect way to spend a Saturday night. Hats off to Carol, Glenna, Dan, Judith, and the Santa Barbara Poetry Series team.

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