I had a great time reading poems at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts as part of the lineup for Weird Words. Octogenerian firecracker Polly Bee also read her by turns hilarious and heartbreaking prose poems, and Tree Bernstein read sonorously from her chapbook “Water” while the ever-versatile Buddy Wilds (who also served as emcee) accompanied her fluidly on acoustic guitar.
The Center is a gorgeous property atop a hill in upper Ojai with stunning vistas on all sides and rooms filled with “Beato’s” finished and unfinished ceramic masteripeces. The property was warmed up for our arrival by a well-attended reception for a striking exhibit of paintings and glassworks by Richard Amend and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, and by nightfall the bamboo was rustling with doves roosting down for the night.
I read a poem dedicated to the memory of two friends’ departed son, and somehow managed to collect myself to carry on after seeing the look in their eyes. It was a special evening, full of good friends and good art. I think Ms. Wood would have been proud.
“When the Ojai Poetry Festival in Ojai, Calif., was called off late last year, in part because of budget concerns, local poet Tree Bernstein helped form a separate group to revive the event. The original festival drew about 700 people to an amphitheater in May, and featured nationally known poets. Ms. Bernstein plans to reduce costs by choosing less expensive venues and focusing on regional talent.”
Hats off to the Ojai Valley Poetry Association for picking up the banner and carrying on the tradition of bringing poetry to Ojai. They have just announced the schedule for the Ojai Valley Poetry Fest on June 6th at the Ojai Art Center .
The free Poetry Fest Day Program begins at noon and includes performances by teens and seniors, Santa Barbara poet laureates, the Razor Babes, and Hispanic poets. Open mic signup also begins at noon for the afternoon session. A workshop in ecstatic Persian poetry, and “Word as Song,” combining poetry and music, complete the afternoon.
The Evening Program features L.A. poets Wanda Coleman and Frank T. Rios , and Ventura Country favorites Marsha de la O. and Jackson Wheeler . Tickets for the evening program are on sale now at Bart’s Books , Ojai Creates , Ojai House, and will be available at the door. Ticket price is $10 (cash only.)
For more information call John Kertisz at 805-640-1508 or email Tree Bernstein at Ojai Poets at gmail dot com.
The Montgomery Street Playhouse will be hosting a benefit for the Ojai Valley Poetry Fest on Sunday, April 5th from 2?5 PM, featuring poets Polly Bee, Robert Peake, and Ellen Johnson. The playhouse is located at 309 North Montgomery Street, between Jones & Co and Soul Centered. Suggested donation is $5. Beverages and light refreshments will be served alongside well-chosen words.
The Ojai Valley Poetry Fest is a grass-roots effort to keep the spirit of the Ojai Poetry Festival alive, featuring poetry, workshops, and events on June 6 at the Ojai Art Center. For more information, please contact Tree Bernstein at OjaiPoets [AT] gmail [DOT] com, or call John Kertisz at 805-640-1508.
I had a great time reading at The Village Jester Restaurant & Pub tonight. We live all of three blocks away, so I grabbed a music stand and a handful of poems, and Val and I walked there through a balmy May night. In addition to being a great hangout and gathering place, The Jester also pours a strong Rose’s Lime and soda.
The open mic was remarkable for the raw, authentic nature of each piece. And, special bonus, my father read a poem as well — something he hadn’t done since he was nineteen, and read at an open mic prior to the feature of a different Robert — Robert Frost.
Many thanks to Tree Bernstein and The Jester for bringing good people to a good spot to share some poems. I can’t think of a better way to start the week.