Thursday, April 29, 2010

Local Poets Inspire, Enthrall Audience

A packed house at the Felton Community Center enjoyed an "Evening of Poetry"  by local poets Wednesday.  The sixth annual event, sponsored and organized by the Felton Library Friends featured over a dozen readings of original works as well as favorite selections read by local residents.

Santa Cruz poet, Amber Sumrall, a 2010 Gail Rich Award winner, was tasked with selecting from among over 100 submissions for inclusion in the program. After offering advice and encouragement, particularly to the young students in attendance, she explained how difficult a job it was to choose which poems would be read.

The selected poets who ranged in age from 6 to 73 read works which interpreted the theme of "Place".

Joya Marie Strubing clearly demonstrated the power of poetry to evoke strong feeling and emotion with her work Grammy's House, which she recited from memory and which won her a request for an encore.

Sarah Wapner, Jarod Rishpater and Blaze Brumbaugh each interpreted the topic "I'm from.." in a unique and revealing way that allowed the audience a glimpse of the angst, joy and confusion of life as a pre-teen.

High Schoolers Jillian Fulton, Emmy Digirolamo and Richard LaPlante shared (in order) Happy Memoriesa heartfelt ode of teenage love; The Wonderera sort of melodic journey of curiosity and connection; and Contradictions, about the struggle to reconcile reality, perception and desire.  

Adult contributors included Karen Close who read On Living Here, a vibrant and reverent tribute to the wonder of our natural environment; Joy Churchman who paid tribute to Dr Seuss with an amusing and saucy Ode to Rain; and Hazel Weiser who read an excerpt from her Chemo Days,
 that beautifully spoke of devastation and renewal, suffering and survival.

Paul Machlis served as the master of ceremonies providing introductions and interesting quotations evocative of the theme of the evening.  He interspersed the presenters of original works with readings by local luminaries of selected favorites.   

SLV High School English teacher Dave Poetzinger, recalled growing up in the Scottish immigrant community in Chicago and read from Scotland's favorite son, Robert Burns.  Felton businessman Les Gardner shared a beautiful love poem written by his mother. Local chef Sebastian Noble, from Oak Tree Ristorante read a translated Uruguayan love poem and Dr Amy Solomon MD from Balance Health of Ben Lomond chose two favorite children's poems from her own past after telling the audience how delighted she was to be chosen to read poetry instead of to discuss hepatitis.

Park interpreters, Lee Summers and Julie Sidel who are members of the 5Ms Band (The Mostly Mediocre Musical Monarch Mariposas) performed a song written by combining poetic contributions left by visitors to Big Basin.

Marilyn Robertson and Nancy Gerdt were credited with organizing the event which has become a treasured tradition for the San Lorenzo Valley community.

Ms Sumrall deserves praise for the selections she made.  The audience was completely enthralled and each and every presenter was not only well received but well prepared.  Felton Community hall was certainly the place to be this night.

Note: Ms. Sumrall mentioned at the outset how a good poem is one that encourages the reader to go back and read it again and again to find new meaning and enjoyment.  My recollections are from my initial and only exposure to the works cited above. My short interpretations are mine alone and may or may not resemble anyone else's or for that matter the intent of the authors. JC

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