Among today's highlights:
Deborah Edler Brown gave a dynamic workshop on "How to Tell a Poem." I felt very inspired although it made me panic at how unprepared I really am for tomorrow's sf poetry reading in Pasadena.
Al Young gave a poetry reading of his own poetry as well as the keynote speech at the banquet. Both were truly wonderful and inspiring. I bought his book, Heaven which he kindly signed for me. If you ever get a chance to hear this guy, do so.
Al Young, California Poet Laureate
The three hour reading of the prize-winning poems was actually better this year with assigned readers. Last time I attended, poets read their own work but I actually enjoyed hearing the designated readers read my poems. The prizes were handed out after each winning poem was read.
Claiming my award from CFCP, Inc President James Schuman
All of the readers were skilled at public speaking and the poems just sang past the personalities of the poets and just became living separate entities. All of the winning poems, even the honorable mentions not published in the chapbook were read and all were enjoyable. The emotions evoked ranged from joy to hilarity to deep sadness and stark grief. "My Best Friend is Blind and Dying" by Laverne Frith won a 3rd place in the competition but it ended up well-deservingly winning the "Pegasus Award" which is selected as the best from all of the prize winning poems by a different panel of judges. This poem used Los Angeles as an extended metaphor to describe his grief and it was stunningly moving. Laverne and his wife, Carol, edit Ekphrais, a print journal for poetry based upon individual artistic works. I met the Friths briefly two years ago but this time, I had lunch and dinner with them and really enjoyed their company.
Naturally, my private poetry collection increased as a result of this weekend. In addition to Al Young’s book, Heaven, I came home with:
Prizewinning Poems 2006, CFCP, Inc contest chapbook
Prize Poems 2006 Annual Youth Contest, CFCP, Inc contest chapbook
Red Long Hot Peppers by Deborah Edler Brown (chapbook)
Brevities #38, April 2006 edited by Joyce Odam (little journal of very short poetry available for $1 plus SASE or 1st class stamp from Joyce Odam, 2432 48th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95822-3809
Brevities #37, March 2006
Letter to the World 2005-2006, high school literary journal of Armijo High School Literary Society
Ekphrasis: A Poetry Journal, Vol 4, No 1 Spring/Summer 2006, edited by Laverne and Carol Frith.
Poetry Depth Quarterly, Oct/Nov/Dec 2005, edited by Joyce Odam, published by D.K. Warrick, 5836 North Haven Drive, North Highlands CA 95660
The Blossoms of the Night-Blooming Cereus by Ursula J Gibson
Memento by Pegasus Buchanan (a card of poems by Pegasus, a long time CFCP, Inc member who died recently)
Never enough zeros – poems by Carol Frith (chapbook by Palanquin Press, Department of English, University of South Carolina Aiken, 471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC 29801)
Tumbleweed 2005, an anthology (membership anthology of the CFCP, Inc Tumbleweed chapter which meets in West Covina)
Verdugo Verses Anthology 2005 (membership anthology of the CFCP, Inc McGroarty Chapter which meets in Sunland-Tujunga).
After the banquet, I ended up leaving Fresno at 9:20 pm, but by 11:30 I'd only made it to Bakersfield and started having trouble staying in my lane (at 70 mph) because I was so exhausted. So, I decided to take my chances in a seedy truck-stop motel versus attempting the grapevine into Los Angeles in this state of sleep deprivation. At that point, between the jet lag from Minnesota and almost two days full of nothing but poetry, all the coffee in the world wouldn't have helped....