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.
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.