Editor’s note: This week’s Poetry Corner features the work of Robert McDowell, the author/editor/co-author/translator of 10 books, most recently “Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals,” “Aspirations,” and “Intentions” (Free Press/Simon & Schuster). He was co-founder and director of Story Line Press for 22 years, worked at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, taught at many universities, high schools, and conferences, and is a UC Santa Cruz graduate. To learn more about him, visit robertmcdowell.net or threeintentions.com.
New local publication is born by way of a matchbook
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” —Ernest Hemingway
Short, and not exactly sweet, those words are a ‘story’ that Hemingway wrote, and a tale that many, ironically, call one of his finest. The ‘story’ is six words long, 28 characters, deep, moving, and brilliant. This concept of ‘micro-fiction’ has been around for ages, and one local Santa Cruz writer has zeroed in on the allure of writing in a very small format. Editor Kyle Petersen has launched something called Matchbook Story, a quarterly publication that comes out in the form of a matchbook, with the inside flap telling a story in 300 characters or fewer. On Thursday, March 25, at 6 p.m. at local pub, Poet and the Patriot, Petersen will unveil his first edition of Matchbook Story, along with an author reading from the first story published in this new medium. Additionally, runners up will also be reading their 300-character stories at the event.
Santa Cruz honors its first Poet Laureate
At a book fair in seventh grade, Gary Young purchased Whitter Bynner's “The Jade Mountain; Translations from the Tang Dynasty,” and Oscar Williams’ “Immortal Poems of the English Language.” Upon reading the books, he decided then and there that he wanted to be a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty.
Although he is not Chinese and does not live 1,200 years in the past, Young has come far in the way of recognizing his childhood dream. On Jan. 26, Young was named the first ever poet laureate of Santa Cruz County.
“What really is important is that the community said, ‘We have marvelous poets here, poetry is important in our lives, it's important in our schools, it's important in the community—let's recognize that,’” Young says.
Santa Cruz Hot spots and other notables you need to know about
Motiv, Mad House, Jalisco, Parish Publick House, Britannia Arms, Boulder Creek Brewery
In downtown Santa Cruz, Motiv is hot and happening. The nightclub’s owner, 39-year old Mike Pitt, said the root word motiv in many languages means purpose. Purpose is fueled by inspiration.
“We’re an art venue,” says Pitt, “we’re a political forum, we’re music, we’re food. What all those things have in common is inspiration. That was my goal, to bring together all this inspiration.”
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Pitt graduated from UCSC. Once a competitive surfer, he’s a sales rep for O’Neill, managing 100-plus accounts. And he’s no stranger to nightlife. In 2005 he purchased Castaways, a seedy Live Oak bar.
Local event helps veterans, amputees go surfing
When Chris Lopez was an infantryman stationed in Iraq in 2003, his father would go out surfing and sit on his board to send him prayers across the ocean. Today the 27-year-old, who retired from the service and returned to Santa Cruz with an injured lower back and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), assists fellow veterans through his work at the local Veterans Affairs office. Taking a cue from his father, he also picked up surfing as a source of relief from the memories of war, and the stresses of the everyday. Now, he’s helping other veterans—and amputees—do the same.
Laura Davis uncovers the magic of the memoir
Writing can be a powerful, healing tool. Laura Davis knows that to be true. She’s written a handful of popular non-fiction books on just that—finding the ‘courage to heal.’ And for Davis, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the writing process itself was her own healing tool.
Her past, and her future, came into focus around the same time—as a child, and then again as an adult. “I’ve been writing since I was a little girl as a means for self-expression, what I thought, felt, and believed, as a way to educate and inform, and provoke,” says Davis, a longtime Santa Cruz author, who teaches writing classes in town. “Writing has been a critical way I’ve processed with my life and coped with my life.” This has included blogging when she was ill with cancer recently, to writing seven books with topics ranging from sexual abuse to parenting to reconciling relationships.
A new book reveals the history and beauty behind the humble postcard
One of my most vivid childhood memories is that of my mother writing postcards. Whether we were simply on a weekend getaway a few towns over or we had traversed across one or more oceans, my mom’s idea of a vacation was to commemorate it by sending a postcard to everyone she knew. The following ritual is ingrained in my psyche—stop at every souvenir stand, drug store etc. that may sell the small works of art and purchase as many as possible. Then, return to the hotel and stay up late into the night writing rough drafts (my mom is an incurable perfectionist known to take hours selecting a suitable birthday card for a friend). Finally, and with much deliberation, she would select the postcards best suited for each person and commence to write lovely little messages that illuminated the highlights of our trip thus far. Sometimes it would take us entire days to find a post office, where my sister and I would risk our lives licking the backs of third-world stamps to allow my mom’s scrawled messages to reach friends and family back home.
Christopher Durang’s witty work hits the Actors’ Theatre
Theater director Gerry Gerringer sits in a tiny office, and we talk, like therapist to patient, which is ironic, since he’s directing a play about such things, with Christopher Durang’s “Beyond Therapy,” opening up at the Actors’ Theatre on Feb. 25 and running through March 19.
“It's really a clever, funny script,” Gerringer says. “It was kind of a play for its time, and now as time has elapsed since the ’80s when it was written, it becomes kind of a satire that’s relevant today. Though all of the characters in some ways have their strangeness, the two therapists who are in this play are so out there and eccentric that it's almost going beyond therapy to think that they can help these people. Comedy is very therapeutic. I think humor connects people and provides access to dialogue about different political issues. Laughter is one of the best things you can do on a regular basis.”
Carl Weiseth finds a surprise ‘jewel’
About a year-and-a-half ago, Carl Weiseth was hiking Central California’s coastline. It was a gorgeous day—perfect sunset, flowers everywhere, hummingbirds buzzing around, and the clouds were rolling in. As he descended to head back to his campsite, Weiseth happened upon something that would change the entire course of his life: a pinecone. “It was big, perfectly symmetrical, and spiky,” Weiseth says. “I could barely hold it in my hand.”
It was as if it were sitting there waiting for him right in the middle of his path. He carried it back home with him to Santa Cruz, after his camping trip, and set it on a windowsill. Months passed, and over time, the sunlight hitting it “cured it.”