Kirsten Jones Neff
'Lyn Follett's love of poetry is
palpable, a joy that underlies her long career as a
published poet, and generous publisher of other poets'
work through Arctos Press. (From 2001-2007 'Lyn Follett and
Susan Terris published Runes, A Review of Poetry).
Follett has been named the Marin County Poet Laureate
KJN: How did you come to be a poet?
LF: I came to poetry
'slant'. My mother loved poetry and she read it to me as
a child: Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, A. A.
Milne. I loved Elizabeth Jane kicking the horrible rice
pudding into the air. I loved going down to see the calf
and Frost saying 'You come too.' How I yearned to take
his hand and go with him! But basically, when I started
writing, at about age 6, I wrote short stories and expected to
become another one of those 'great American
novelists'. During the school years, poetry
danced around the edges, but gradually fell more and more to
the side of the road. By college I was only reading poetry
because I had to, as an English major. I liked Eliot and
Yeats, Donne and some of the others, but was no longer swept
away.Fast-forward to 1990 when we moved to Marin and I
gave up a career in animal pottery and jewelry. I
yearned to go back to writing. I had been discouraged by a
college professor, mean-spirited and constantly abasing.
Why did I listen to him, his voice in my head all those
years? I decided it didn't matter if I was good at it or
not, I wanted to write. I took a course from Tom
Centolella at College of Marin. The classes were huge,
forty people, and one could only bring two pages of
writing. I figured at that rate I would never even get a
short story finished, so I tried a poem. Yikes, it was
fun! And so, a poet was born. What I liked
besides the process, the jig saw of making every word count,
of making the words sing and work together, of expressing
myself in short tight renderings that would maybe speak to
others - a communication with the world... I also liked this whole
new discipline, this body of poetry I knew nothing about, new
poets to discover, new forms, new approaches. I loved it...still
KJN: How do you write? What
is your creative process?
creative process is very sloppy. I don't set aside certain
hours. A line drops out of the air, I pull my car over
to the side of the road to get it down, and maybe more
lines. The transom is open, an idea drifts through
like wisps of smoke and I start chasing it. I love to do
free writes. Let my mind take its own path through the
woods, try to follow it wherever it goes, writing as fast as I
can. I then transfer what I get into the computer, doing
some editing. Print it out, scribble all over it, make
the changes in the computer, print it out, scribble, etc.,
until it is time to stop. Stop does not mean finished.
It just means pause and consider. I like the visceral
action on my muscles, my body, that I get from writing it out
KJN: Who/what are your
LF: I'd have to say my
inspirations come from everywhere: nature, family,
memoir, surreal abstractions, musings, political
ferment, environmental destruction, science discoveries
and interactions, even some newspaper article will set me
thinking. I am dangerously curious...
KJN: Which poets do you read the most
LF: I love a wide range of
poetry, so trying to list favorites is very difficult, if not
impossible. 90% of them get left out. But pushed to the
question, I am happy to ramble about in Walt Whitman, Pablo
Neruda, Mary Oliver, David St. John, Theodore Roethke,
William B. Yeats, even T.S. Eliot, Akhmatova, N. Scott
Momaday, William Stafford, Galway Kinnell, Robert
Hass, Kay Ryan, Peter Everwine, Thom Gunn, Jane
Hirshfield, Lucille Clifton, Ted Hughes—well, you get the
idea, there is just a boatload of wonderful
KJN: What drew you to the
position of poet laureate? What are your
aspirations for the coming two
LF: Being Poet Laureate of
Marin County is a great honor. It allows me to be a roving
ambassador for poetry throughout the county. I hope to
encourage the participation of many people, poets of all
abilities and those who are not poets - yet. I'd like everyone
in Marin to be aware of the wealth of poets in our county, and
those yet unfamiliar to discover these voices, and even
better, their own voices for poetry. I have a long list of
project ideas. Some will take time, some may be ephemeral,
some may become permanent. We'll see. I started with a
project called Pass the Poem. I announce at each reading,
etc., that I would like those present, when they go home, to
find a poem they like, even if they have to go back to those
poems they learned to recite in sixth grade, make a copy
and then give it to someone they know or don't know.
Just Pass the Poetry, and ask that person to do the
same. We're working on Chalk poems, that are written on
a sidewalk somewhere and left to be read and to weather. I say
we, because I hope these ideas will be taken up by others and
I hope to encourage the less
mainstream communities to plunge into the poetry of their own
cultures, have gatherings to read it aloud in their native
tongues and in English. I hope there will also be a
student component to this. And I'd like people not from that
particular community to have a chance to hear the poetry of
other cultures. And there are lots more projects
still to be launched.
Toni Wilkes and Greg Randall are married poets from Santa Rosa.
They have earned a reputation as generous hosts of the Londonberry Salon
reading series and as volunteers for Sonoma Libraries and literary projects.
Between them they have published (or will soon publish) four new chapbooks.
: How did you each find poetry? GR
My paternal grandmother introduced me to Yeats, Frost and
Sandburg in her 1929 anthology, Chief Modern Poets of
and America-- which she used to teach out of,
in a one-room school house in a small farm town in Kansas. She first read
"The Lake Isle of Innisfree" to me when I was in early elementary school
in Southern California and then I studied the anthology myself in junior high.
The book is now on my nightstand. Writing poetry arrived soon after.
My first poem (though I'm not sure I want to admit it) was a 4th-grader's
version of Robert Frost , which means "sincere but trite"- it was about swans
in a neighbor's pond, except my neighbor didn't have a pond and I'd never
actually seen any swans, except in books. It was published in the Magnolia
Elementary school literary magazine. Whoop! Whoop! My grandma kept this
magazine and other stories I wrote in grade school. My father found them
in the drawers of her secretaire after she died. I did study the classics
in college, having majored in English and Latin. But my education stopped
after the High Moderns (Stevens, Eliot, Frost) and my senior thesis was on
Chaucer. I was mostly a medievalist. Which means, I've been trying ever
since to catch up with American Poetry since about 1950.TW
: My mother had a big volume of poetry on the shelf [when I was] growing up.
Of course, it wasn't the kind of poetry I would read today.
Mostly, I found poetry in the lyrics of songs published in the 1920s and 1930s
which my mother played and sang on the family spinet. GR
: Yes, you could say a phrase in conversation that happened to be the line in
some obscure 1920s song and Toni can launch into the whole song, which she
probably hasn't heard since childhood. TW
: Later, I discovered poetry books at the library as a kid and would riffle
through the card catalogue for books by poets I had heard about, or any poetry.
The librarian wanted to know what I was doing. I told them I was looking for songs.
Then, she'd try to escort me to the children's section. No, I'd say, I want grownup
songs. I'd sit on the floor in the adult poetry section reading the words I understood.KJN
: How did you two meet?GR
Toni and I came together over poetry. She was teaching a
creative writing workshop with an emphasis on poetry at
Chapman University. Although it was some years later before we
came together as a couple, language, music and literature are
in the fabric of who we are together. It's been there from the
beginning for us. I will add that, for me, a new urgency and
seriousness took over in the poetry after her daughter's
stroke in 2003. A conscious/ unconscious realization that
everything could dissolve tomorrow, so [you should] stop
playing around and speak urgently about what it is you feel
compelled to say. Just last year, the experience of tending to
her daughter formed itself in the forthcoming chapbook
(The Lives You Touch Publications, 2010).KJN
: I've noticed that you collect all sorts of art. Did you ever think about
another form of expression, or did you always know you were writers? GR
: Toni says I'm a
musician/composer more than a poet. And maybe I would've been,
except I can't carry a tune and my 5th grade band teacher told
me to give up the cornet—I was hopeless. So instead of musical
notations, I have words. In fact, the sonata form or the music
of Chopin or Brahms' chamber works probably influences my
poetry more than the writing of other poets. I'm drawn to the
intricacy in the patterns of notes and voicings in their music
and how ideas and themes develop, dissolve, drift apart and
then reform to create a changed but unified whole.
: The art on our walls you mentioned are reminders of beautiful things. Nudes, still lives,
landscapes—they're reminders of how necessary it is to be present to particular moments in our life.KJN
: I know you have a very busy financial practice. Is it ever difficult to transition from working with
numbers to working with words? GR
: I don't imagine it's any more difficult for us to carve out space for reading and writing [than it is] for anyone else who's working... like all business owners', our minds never completely leave the needs of the business and perhaps that crowds out space for poetry. I don't know. I've never seen poetry and financial planning as anything but complementary... With our clients, we're always striking a balance between living more fully this particular moment... and planning for an abundant future. For me, poetry is similar. I see poetry as helping to improve decision-making relative to how we live a life more attuned to its particular moments. Poetry often synthesizes what seem like disparate elements into a cohesive whole. And the concerns of clients—those human fears, ambitions and desires—sound to me a lot like the concerns of most poetry. For me, the act of writing poetry is an act of paying close attention to the vitality of language. In corporate-speak and even in much of our media,
words get hollowed out or dulled to the point losing of any meaning. The poetry reinvigorates the words so that the words remain alert and alive and meaningful in communicating with clients. KJN
: Tell me about the origins of the Londonberry Salon, what you envisioned and what you have created?GR
: Every time we clear the furniture out of the house and prepare for the Londonberry Salon we ask ourselves why we do this. And then, thirty-some people show up elated and eager to listen to a poet read and answer questions in our living room for an evening and we know exactly why. The Salon grew out of a craft talk Robert Hass gave at Squaw several years ago when he said it would become incumbent upon poets to create their own, local communities for poetry in order to give space for those voices to be heard. TW
: We wanted to bring poetry back into the home in a private and intimate setting and out of the distractions of bookstores and coffee shops. This spring we decided to expand to a public venue and launched the Londonberry Salon East. We host it at the Rincon Valley Library in Santa Rosa. We have websites for both Salons Londonberry
: This past year you both had significant personal successes. GR
Toni's book was picked up the first time she submitted it
(albeit, they waited seven months to accept it). My books have
taken much longer to find homes. Toni kept telling me, "you
just haven't found the right person to read it." And then
suddenly it happened... (editor's note: Randall's A Room
in the Country
was published by Puddinghouse,
by The Lives You Touch Publications,
and Double Happiness
was the winner of the Camber
Press Chapbook award). Toni's first chapbook, Stepping
, came out from Finishing Line so I threw a big party in December to celebrate the launch.TW
: What was so enjoyable about the evening was how many attendees were friends and clients who had never attended a poetry reading in their life—it's very much what we try to accomplish with the Londonberry Salon: to bring poetry to new people.
A huge CONGRATULATIONS and Thank You to Barbara Martin and Gabrielle Rilleau and the many volunteers who organized and hosted The 2010 High School Poetry Contest and Award Ceremony at the Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse on May 12. Gratitude also to Jacqueline Kudler, who judged the contest, hosted the ceremony and read three poems to the students and their families. Kudler spoke of the need for poetry in complicated times and expressed her admiration for the inspirational writing of Marin County's young poets. Look for the work of winning high school poets in upcoming issues of the MPC newsletters.
High School Poetry Needs
assistance. Possible duties include updating the teacher data
base, contacting members, scheduling workshops in the schools,
and assisting with the annual high school poetry anthology and
contest. One person need not be responsible for all the above
tasks. Please contact Barbara Martin at email@example.com
MPC POETRY PUBLISHING WORKSHOP
Saturday July 17, 1—4:30 pm at Book Passage in Corte Madera
with David Alpaugh, Connie Post, & Jay Rubin
This workshop is designed to answer your questions about the current
state of poetry publishing and to assist you in designing a customized
submission strategy to bring your poetry to the attention of publishers,
judges, reviewers, and, above all, readers. Whether you're ready to
"send out" for the first time or just want to
improve your existing acceptance rate here's a shirtsleeve workshop
to help you make it happen.
To pre-register, or for more information, email Roy Mash firstname.lastname@example.org
2010 CALLIOPE AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIVEMENT IN POETRY
Saturday June 19, 2—3:30 pm at Olney Hall on the College of Marin campus
Marin Poetry Center is proud to announce that Jacqueline (Jackie) Kudler is the first
recipient of the Calliope Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. This award
is given in recognition of Jackie's long-term contributions in teaching poetry in the
Emeritus Program at the College of Marin, for her involvement in the education of
children, her work with for Marin Poetry Center, and for the poetry she has written
over the years.
Everyone is cordially invited to attend this special occasion.
We do hope that you can attend and help us recognize this outstanding Marin poet, teacher, and neighbor.
This event is co-sponsored by ESCOM, the Emeritus Students College of Marin.
MPC SUMMER TRAVELING SHOW Upcoming Readings
Tue Jun 1, 07:00 PM Rebound Bookstore 1 1611 4th Street, San Rafael (415) 482-0550 Host: Angelika Quirk. Readers: Gloria North, Alyse Rall, Budd Winston, Lynn Ireland, Carolyn Ingram, Louise Yahnian
Tue Jun 8, 07:00 PM Borders Books 588 Francisco Boulevard West, San Rafael (415) 454-1400 Host: Barbara Brooks. Readers: Susan Cohen, Terry Lucas, Stephanie Noble, Jeanne Wagner, Sara Tolchin, Ella Eytan
Tue Jun 15, 07:00 PM Belvedere-Tiburon Library 1501 Tiburon Blvd., Tiburon (415) 788-7649 Host: Kirsten Neff. Readers: Alan Cohen, Calvin Ahlgren, C B Follett, Susan Terris, Sim Warkov, Adele Tamam Kahn
Tue Jun 22, 07:00 PM Book Depot 87 Throckmorton, Mill Valley (415) 383-2665 Host: Toni L Wilkes.
Readers: Stuart Chappell, Susan Gangel, Kit Kennedy, Marilyn King, Gerald Nicosia, Sandy Scull
Tue Jun 29, 07:00 PM Dance Palace 503 B Street, Pt. Reyes Station (415) 663-1075 Host: Calvin Ahlgren. Readers: Vivian Olds, Charselle, Andrea Freeman, Robin Lee, Barbara Martin, Jennifer Gennari
Tue Jul 6, 07:00 PM Fairfax Library 1 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Fairfax (415) 453-8092 Host: Joe Zaccardi. Readers: Sharron Belson, Sam Doctors, Tomoko Ferguson, Stephie Mendel, Carol Griffin, Michael Beebe
Tue Jul 13, 07:00 PM Book Passage 51 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Corte Madera (415) 927-0960 Host: Yvonne Postelle. Readers: Dale Biron, Patricia Garfield, Yvonne Cannon, Michelle Bitting, Lola Brown, Sharon Fain
Tue Jul 20, 07:00 PM Rebound Bookstore 2 1611 4th Street, San Rafael (415) 482-0550 Host: Roy Mash. Readers: Diana Lyster, Connie Post, Mark Meierding, Catharine Clark-Sayles, Paul Watsky, Jane Green
Tue Jul 27, 07:00 PM Mill Valley Library 2 375 Throckmorton, Mill Valley (415) 388-4033 Host: Jean Sublett. Readers: Barbara Brooks, Yvonne Postelle, Roy Mash, Robert Sward, Maggie Morley, William Landis
Tue Aug 3, 07:00 PM Marin City Library 164 Donahue St, Sausalito 332-6158 Host: Gabrielle Rilleau.
Readers: Judith Yamamoto, Adam David Miller, Cynthia Sims, Doreen Stock, John Hart, Daphne Muse
Tue Aug 10, 07:00 PM Petaluma County Library 100 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma (707) 673-9801 Host: Mark Meierding. Readers: Raphael Block, Spencer La Moure, Kirsten Jones Neff, Mary K Sweeney, Julia Vose, Albert Flynn Desilver
Tue Aug 17, 07:00 PM Larkspur Library 2 400 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur (415) 927-5135 Host: Susan Terris. Readers: Marie Henry, Katherine Crawford, Patricia McCaron, Gabrielle Rilleau, Carol Sheldon, Margaret Stawowy
Tue Aug 24, 07:00 PM Corte Madera Library 707 Meadowsweet Drive, Corte Madera (415) 924-6444 Host: Bill Noble. Readers: Barbara Swift Brauer, Alice Palmer Thomas, Angelika Quirk, Kate Peper, Terry Phelan, Ann Robinson
Tue Aug 31, 07:00 PM Fairfax Library 2 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Fairfax (415) 453-8092 Host: Ethel Mays. Readers: True Heitz, Stephen Galiani, Terry Hamilton-Poore, Anne Bacon Soule, Michael Day, Phyllis Teplitz
Mon Sep 6, 07:00 PM 3300 Club 3300 Mission Street at 29th, San Francisco (415) 826-6886 Host: Ethel Mays. Readers: Zara Raab, Mahnaz Badihian, Kim Nunes, Renata Santerre, Bruce Sams, Ethel Mays
Tue Sep 14, 07:00 PM Stinson Beach Library 3521 Shoreline Highway, Stinson Beach (415) 868-0252 Host: Barbara Martin. Readers: Kenneth Dickinson, Marvin R. Hiemstra, Lonner Holden, Lynda Beigel, Elizabeth Underwood, Martin Roy Hickel
Wed Sep 22, 07:00 PM Frank Bette Art Center 1601 Paru Street, Alameda (510) 523-6957 Host: Alyse Rall. Readers: Rafaella Del Bourgo, Clive Matson, Ian Moore, Deborah Ruth, Lenore Weiss
Tue Sep 28, 07:00 PM Mill Valley Library 3 375 Throckmorton, Mill Valley (415) 388-4033 Host: Paula Weinberger. Readers: Joan Gelfand, Claudia Chapline, Gregory W. Randall, Toni L Wilkes, Rhodes Young, Rebecca Foust
MPC THIRD THURSDAY READING SERIES - NEXT SEASON
|Mon Sep 20
||MPC Anthology Reading|
|Dec (Date tba)
||MPC Potluck & Read Around|
|Mon Jan 17
||Panel Discussion: "Is Publication Hurting Poetry?"
Camille Dungy, Dan Bellm, & Gabby Calvocoressi
||Sixteen Rivers Anthology Reading|
||Jacqueline Berger and Alexandra Teague|
||New Voices: Askia Humphrey and Javier Zamora |
MPC Members Book Launch
Saturday, June 12, 2010, 7:00 PM, Book Passage, Corte Madera.
Rebecca Foust reads from All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song,
winner of the
Many Mountains Moving Book Prize and Kirsten Jones Neff
reads from Pushcart-nominated
When the House is Quiet, winner of the 2009 Starting Gate Award.
Poetry Farm is a
monthly reading series held at Dr. Insomnia's Cafe in
Novato. This is a well-attended and high-spirited
reading series now in its fifth year. We feature one
published author each month. If you would like to
be considered for our "Featured Farmer" spot, please
send an email describing your work to Kirsten@Neff.Org.
Otherwise, come join the audience or sign up for open
Second Mondays, 7pm, Dr. Insomnia's
Cafe on the corner of Grant and Reichert in Novato.
MPC Readers: Do you remember how and when
you first wrote a poem? Did your pulse race? Palms go
all sweaty? Did you follow up right away on that first odd tug
of the mind/heart, or did you put the urge aside and write it
out only when you couldn't help it? Do us all a
favor, jot down that memory and ship it off to the newsletter,
for possible sharing with your fellow readers. Send it
Open Mic/Poetry Critique at Falkirk
Cultural Center, on the fourth Thursday of each month (except
Dec.), starting at 7pm. Bring ten copies of your poem,
no more than one page in length. This event is free, and
is open to everyone. 1408 Mission Street, San
Sunset Poetry by the Bay
Marin Poetry Center Bookgroup meets at 7pm
the second Wednesday of each month, rotating among living
rooms of participants. In June Rodney Jones' Elegy for the Southern Drawl
will be discussed, and in July a selection from
Contemporary American Poetry, edited by R.S. Gwynn & April Lindner.
For more information contact Roy Mash: email@example.com
Marin Poetry Center Blog is now
online. Just click on the Blog! tab of the MPC website.
MPC members can now upload their own blog posts, receive
comments, and comment on the posts of others. An easy way to
start is to send in a poem or two for the 'Admired Poems'
section of the new MPC blog. These would be poems by someone
else that you particularly admire or that have meant a lot to
you or that you think of as overlooked. Send poems or blog
postings to firstname.lastname@example.org
. Comments can be made on the blog itself.
|BOARD OF DIRECTORS
|Margaret Stawowy - Chair
||Calvin Ahlgren - Newsletter, Open Mic/ Workshop|
|Barbara Brooks - Recording Secretary
||Richard Brown - Marin Poet Laureate Liaison|
|Rebecca Foust - Events
||Kirsten Jones Neff - Newsletter|
|Peg Alford Pursell - Corresponding Sec/Membership
||Gabrielle Rilleau - High School Poetry, Aegis Program|
|Barbara Martin - High School Poetry
||Cathy Shea - Anthology Consulting Editor|
|Roy Mash - Events/Website
||Rose Black - Anthology Associate Editor|
|Mark Meierding - Grant Proposals
|Alyse Rall - Treasurer
|Paula Weinberger - Traveling Show
|Joe Zaccardi - Anthology
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