It is National Poetry Month and on Thursday 4/20 my students were getting high off poetry!!! Eric Devaughn, aka spoken word artist T.R.U.E. Thought Requires Uncommon Effort came to my high school classroom to ignite our analytical skills with poetry from his new book aggressive. Students were inspired and some confessed to secretly writing poetry.
As the day progressed his performance grew to include another teacher's class. Energy and enthusiasm continued to grow with the students as his clever wit and spoken word delivery engaged us and provoked thoughtful questions and conversations.
His poem 13 words i grow weary of hearing was a powerfully moving participatory experience. I wasn't on my game and didn't take photos or groupies like I usually do, so instead - I have the cover of his new book which is available on Amazon.
Friday, April 28th
To close out National Poetry Month - Karen Greenbaum-Maya, author of The Book of Knots and Their Untying will share her poetry with my AP Students.
Submitting is a loaded word. When my friend said, "I want you to go to Women Who Submit," I thought it was a women's group for people who need to be more assertive. The double entendre of submission can be a dreadful thing, whether it is being submissive in a relationship or sending your work to an editor. There are so many variables, but being here I feel like I am on solid ground and the task does not feel daunting.
It almost feels like a tea party. We greet each other cordially and pull out laptops. The tea we sip is the information of possible publishers for our work, and the clicking of keyboards is the friendly chatter of encouragement. There it is. The lady across from me raises her hands and proudly says "I submitted." We applaud, and the facilitator is literally ringing the bell of success. The celebration is in the submission. We are doing that living in the moment thing rather than getting wound up in what someone else might think of us.
Being in the presence of other women who are submitting takes away the lonely ruminations of "what ifs" and "should I". There is no pressure, no competition, just encouragement from being around and seeing others do the same thing you want to do. Even though I didn't submit this time, I organized poems and felt like I accomplished something by just coming out and being a part of the process in the company of women writers. I am looking forward to submitting soon.
Thursday nights are lit in downtown Riverside.
Eclectic electricity is in the air with vendors, artists, dancers, musicians and poets. The creative spirit reigns mingling the inventive new with the tried and true.
When Cati Porter - Founder and Director of Inlandia, invited me to be a featured reader - there was a yes and yes that filled me ecstatic. National Poetry Month featured reader alongside Honduran social justice poet, videographer and CSUSB professor, Alex Avila, was a new adventure at the Riverside Public Library. I forgot how much I love the Mission Inn and the classic architecture of the area. There is a rootedness that is unique for the Inland Empire region, something that feels like ocean of centuries and the current wave of revolution.
Being in a library, family friendly was the tone for the evening. Alex had the audience engaged with folklore participation and poetry peppered with Spanish for flavor. I shared poems that celebrate my love of poetry and the innocence of children.
Thank you Cati Porter, founder of Inlandia, and host for the evening, for the opportunity to celebrate National Poetry Month in a delightful venue of culture, literature and kinship.
No Foolin' - this was the perfect way to usher in National Poetry Month at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
4th Sunday Claremont Poets.
I wasn't sure what to expect: A pathway lined with beautiful rose bushes leading to a proper English garden, a wafting fragrance of Bergamot tea to celebrate the first day of National Poetry Month? A tea garden of lavender, rose hips, and chamomile... where my pastel pink top could tease the other flowers? A large white gazebo where my white gauze wing sleeved top and long flowing pastel skirt could twirl in words? And there I was dreaming too much - doing too little, reciting Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing" over and over to myself.
The pathway to the reading was lined with indigenous plants, a variety of cacti and succulents with small, big-bellied lizards swiftly waddling around - doing those lizard push-ups (I'm sure there is some scientific explanation - but I just like to imagine that they are buffing up). I also like to imagine that - and I don't know why - squirrels are kids playing baseball... rabbits always seem to be wondering what they were doing... they pause - look about like they are trying to remember what it is they were supposed to be doing - take a couple of hops and stop again... And none of this is even part of the poetry reading yet.
Needless to say, with all of these mind journeys - I was late and got lost several times. At this event, sharing poetry in nature seemed to allow the words to seep in a little bit more, they seem more organic. The absences of the distracting hum of lights and background white noise was refreshing and the breeze and movement of nature kept the energy flowing even when everyone sat quiet and still.
Though not quite transcendental - it was definitely a refreshing reconnection to the profound peace and joy that poetry and nature nurtures within us.
An added bonus: I enjoyed the day and experience so much I bought a one year membership so that I can go on nature walks and write at leisure.
Mrs. Sheila Marchbanks is the consummate cultural event planner. When she extends an invitation to attend a gathering it is promised to feed mind, body and spirit. So, it was a great honor when she invited me to give a presentation on my book Sirens in Her Belly to the Sistah Readas Book Club.
I arrived a little early and Mrs. Loretha Nwosu graciously lead me on a tour through the pleasant, well-lit, Ontario Museum. Sistah Readas began arriving and many brought a guest with them for the event. This was one of those days where everything took its cue from the weather and the book club members made a unanimous decision and requested that the meeting be moved to the museum courtyard. As soon as the request was made, Mrs. Loretha Nwoso graciously orchestrated the arrangement of the tables and chairs.
When Mrs. Sheila Marchbanks arrived so did the delicious homemade food.
The day blossomed into a picnic with Sistah Readas. The ladies came prepared with questions; conversations unearthed emotions and explored the roots of situations in the poems, our society, and our personal lives. We closed the day with a writing exercise and future plans.
Welcome to my observations on the craft of writing, venues and writing community experiences.