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.
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Happy 40th Anniversary to (Cafe) SOLO

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.