The Mission in 1876
I had a wonderful time reading poems alongside Barry Spacks and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer this afternoon as part of the Mission Poetry Series. The series is a collaborative labor of love between Sr. Susan Blomstad, osf and Paul Fericano, who provide gorgeous free broadsides, homemade snacks, and a magnificently serene setting to unite poets and poetry-lovers in “Clare‘s Place,” the library nestled in the heart of the Mission.
Rosemerry is a force to reckon with, effortlessly interspersing a cappella folk songs with dramatic poems spoken from memory. Barry was the first poet laureate of the city of Santa Barbara and is a much-loved teacher. He is avuncular and charming, savoring poems that dance between whimsy and pathos, encouraging us all to look forward to our seventies. (“It was a good decade for me,” he twinkled.) I was filled to overflowing with admiration for them both.
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.