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Month: January 2017

Nancy Edwards Honored

Story by Portia Choi

Nancy Edwards passed away on January 5, 2017.  Nancy was a poet.  She was also a professor of English at Bakersfield College from 1968-2009.

When poets and friends of poets were informed of her passing, there was a profound sense of loss.

This story is written to fill the loss with memories of Nancy and words from her poetry.  It is with the belief that for as long as a person is remembered and their words are read or spoken, the presence of the person lives on within and among us.

Poets and writers who knew Nancy shared their thoughts and feelings with Kern Poetry.

In this story the first names for Nancy Edwards and contributors are used due to fondness for each of the persons.

 

 Sharing by Rosa Garza

Rosa said that Nancy was a great friend and she was “like family, like another sister.”  She met Nancy in a Creative Writing class that Nancy was teaching at Bakersfield College.  Rosa was a student in the class.  Rosa had returned to school after staying home for 20 years after she obtained her Bachelor’s degree.  When she went back to school, the Creative Writing class was one of the first classes that she took.

Rosa eventually obtained her Master’s Degree in history.  She applied for employment at Bakersfield College and was hired to teach history.  Nancy and Rosa continued to be friends and were now colleagues.  Their offices were down the hallway from each other.

They worked together on two books of poetry.  One was a chapbook that contained the poems from the students of a Creative Writing class as well as their poems.  In the book, Beloved Mothers Queridas Madres, some of the poems were translated into Spanish.

In the forward of the book, Beloved Mothers Queridas Madres, Nancy wrote “This book is for the women who raised us, the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, aunts, mothers-in-law, godmothers, and special friends who book us to the place leading into our adulthood.”

Another book that Nancy and Rosa wrote together was The Women Within.

(Rosa Garza is a professor of History at Bakersfield College.)

 

 Sharing by Kevin Shah

“I enjoyed our many meetings at . . .local places. And her (Nancy’s) closeness with James her husband was endearing to watch, as they accompanied each other to all her events. They both supported each other in so many tender ways.”

“I want to say that Nancy was a vital part of the creative community. She brought her insights from the academic world into her work with planning our poetry events in Kern County. She was a friend who loved to share her stories. She wrote poems from her heart and performed them in public, most memorably performing a dual poem with her husband James Mitchell. She was willing to step outside of her “professor” role, although she never stopped bringing her expertise as an English professor to her involvement with a recent online newspaper/blog entitled “Kit Fox Bakersfield.” She had a lot to say and a lot to share. She was energized by being an active writer and contributor. Nancy will be greatly missed.”

(Kevin Shah is a poet and an English teacher.  Kevin hosted poetry open mic at bookstores in Bakersfield.  He was on the planning committee for National Poetry Month.)

 

Sharing by Annis Cassells: 

“In Memoriam”

“Nancy Edwards, Bakersfield College professor emerita of English and long-time Writers of Kern member, passed away January 5, 2017 after a long bout with cancer.

Beloved by former students and the Kern County writing community, Nancy co-sponsored Bakersfield’s National Poetry Month celebrations, coordinated poetry events, and co-hosted readings and performances in many venues around town. She presented writing programs and workshops for Writers of Kern, 60-Plus Club of CSUB, gifted students at West High School, and at local and regional college-level conferences throughout her career and into retirement.

Nancy was a gifted and prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry, with numerous publications: books, anthologies, and literary journals. Most recently, she had two poems in the 2016 chapbook, Writing the Drought, A Collection of Poems by Kern County Authors.

I admired Nancy greatly for her talent and generous spirit. I first met her many years ago when she read one of her poems at a Writers of Kern meeting. That poem, “You are my Africa,” made my breath catch in my throat. When I mentioned it to her a few years later, she found a copy and gave it to me. I took Nancy’s flash fiction class through the Levan Institute. The lessons she taught influence my writing today. When we co-presented a program on writing memoir for the 60 Plus Club’s ElderCollege in 2015, I found her to be an excellent and gracious working partner.

Nancy Edwards loved writing, teaching, and encouraging and mentoring writers. We in Kern County and Writers of Kern were lucky and privileged to have her among us.”

            The article, “In Memoriam”, was written by Annis Cassells for the Writers of Kern Newsletter.

(Annis Cassells is a poet and considered the poetry representative for Writers of Kern.)

 

Sharing by Katie Romley

“I did not know Nancy for a long time. A year at most. But she leaves an indelible impression on me. Nancy had a way of being a champion for others, while also being part-confidant and part-teacher. I believe the teacher in her soul never left, but neither did the friend. I have fond memories of Nancy’s poetry. Even the way she dressed was poetry, with dangly earrings to match her outfits and her hairstyle, sort of wildly neat all at once. Her mother was Southern and she spoke about southern manners and etiquette. . .

We were going to create a literary journal, The Kit Fox. Nancy brought ideas for journals, chapbooks, they’re called. We put the writings online in the end, but Nancy never stopped giving me her praise, thoughtfully written. She bought me a folder one day, with a fox on it. I kept the folder and some of Nancy’s writings inside.

Her e-mails always began “Dear Katie” and ended “Nancy Edwards” and the date. In some ways, formal, she was gracious and kind. She was a leader but she was actually a developer. A champion for other leaders to emerge. Sometimes you read about women leaders, and how the best ones are always scouting other women to come up and join them. That was Nancy.  I never attended Bakersfield College but I had always heard about what an extraordinary teacher she was. It was pretty cool actually to know about her almost 20 years before I ever interacted with her.”

(Katie Romley is writer and publisher of Kit Fox Bakersfield at http://kitfoxbakersfield.wordpress.com/)

 

Sharing by Portia Choi

The poetry community of today is a direct result of involvement of Nancy Edwards.  In 2010, when the National Poetry Month was being planned, Nancy was an enthusiastic partner of a group of four poets.  Nancy brought her knowledge of poetry and her connection to the academic community.    She provided credibility to the group’s work.

On a personal note, Nancy was encouraging and supportive.

Nancy was always improving her craft as a writer.  She continued to take writer’s workshops even after she had retired.

One of the poet wrote about Nancy’s passing.  He wrote that “a wonderful, beautiful voice has been stilled.”

Although Nancy will not be performing her poems in person, her words can continue to be read, spoken, and shared.

 

 

The following are a few of Nancy Edwards’ poems:

 

Bait 

For Pablo Neruda

By Nancy Edwards

The past is a red-eye sockeye salmon

Somebody dropped on my living room floor,

And no one noticed until it smelled so

Damned bad people reeled in nausea;

Take it out, oh God, take it out!

Dispose of it and air the place –

So I did and washed the rug clean,

But still the odor lingers in my mind

As though the sockeye salmon

Still leers at me in decaying pleasure,

Its thin bones inn skeletal elegance

Outlining the feast of your past.

 

Source:  Valley Light Writers of the San Joaquin, gathered by Jane Watts, POETS & PRINTER PRESS, 1978

 

 

Beloved Mother

By Nancy Edwards

(excerpt)

In the webbed flesh of your

Inside elbow

In these layers of tender skin

I am born once more

When you hold me,

Beloved Mother

. . .

You are always

The place inside

You hold me forever

In the stream of my birth

When I am in your arms

You are my beloved Mother.

 

Querida Madre (Beloved Mother)

Translated by Rosa Garza

(excerpt)

En la tela de tu codo

En esas capas de tierna piel

He nacido otra vez

Cuando me acaricias otra vez

Querida Madre

. . .

Siempre eres

El lugar adentro

Donde me abrazas para siempre

En la corriente de mi nacer

Cuando estoy en tus brazos

Tu eres mi querida madre

Source:  Beloved Mothers Queridas Madres, BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE, 1992

 

 

Donna Weather 

 By Nancy Edwards

In late September, it is Donna weather in Bakersfield,

When the air begins to lose its’ blistering heat,

And we can sit outside at the downtown Greek Festival,

The cool air against or necks and legs,

. . .

“Time for Donna to be back,” someone says,

Expecting her to call any day,

. . .

We were positive she would return,

Now it is as if she had been stolen from us,
. . .

We share the phantom pain of loss

Of a limb, our friend gone from view,

Yet so much remains,

So much she wanted us to have,

So much in the air we breathe

In Donna weather.

Source:  Writers of Kern Anthology III, 2008

 

 

Elevation

By Nancy Edwards

(excerpt)

All week, I dreaded the drive to Yosemite,

I obsessed about the sheer cliffs on one side,

Looking down into the straight drop,

Lovely Ponderosa pine, cedar, black oak trees,

The car only inches from the side,

a twisty road, my childhood fears drilled

deep into my consciousness.

My father’s voice ridiculing my fear of heights.

. . . . .

And in your final years

when I could do something for you,

I came through mountains and storms

to see you again.

 

We read our poetry to each other as always.

You never spoke of the sheer drop

On your side: we both knew.

Source:  Levan Humanities Review, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2016. www2.bakersfieldcollege.edu/LHR.

 

 

Missing and Welcoming Back

By Nancy Edwards

(excerpt)

I have missed the pure white egrets,

sleek and graceful,

gliding across Lake Truxtun,

landing like aristocracy,

the royal family on display.

. . .

When spring arrives this year,

so comes hope.

Bright thick green leaves appear

between the blackened branches.

An egret circles the lake,

dips down and lands.

I have seen two red squirrels racing around

a tree chasing each other like passionate lovers.

A lone fisherman casts his line

and stands patiently;

the earth returns and begins again.

Source:  Writing the Drought, A collection of Poems by Kern County Authors, April 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Out Loud 2017

Story by Portia Choi with Contributions by Martin Chang

There was a first time event in poetry for Kern County on January 18, 2017.  It was the Poetry Out Loud competition in which high school students recited famous poems by memory.  The event took place at the Access Center that houses the Arts Council of Kern.  It was the Arts Council that announced the first Poet Laureate for Kern County in March 2016.  The Poet Laureate is Don Thompson, who was at the current event as one of the judges.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national contest, “a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals” according to the POL website www.poetryoutloud.org.  In the contest, high school students memorize and recite great poems that are provided on the POL website.   Poetry Out Loud competition has taken place since 2005.  It has “grown to reach more than 3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 school in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”   The two partners of  POL are the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation.   The Poetry Foundation publishes the Poetry magazine and is “an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.”

This first time event was made possible, in Bakersfield, due to the effort of Andrew Chilton, an English teacher at Stockdale High School of Kern High School District.  Chilton found out from the State’s POL, that the contest had to be sponsored and sanctioned by the arts council.  In Kern County, the Arts Council of Kern was already involved in the literary arts and became an enthusiastic partner for the POL effort.   Even further, Chilton worked with the students to prepare for the competition.

Chilton’s enthusiasm for the event was evident as he expressed that he enjoyed seeing “classic, good poems read and studied” by the students.   He also shared that by memorizing and reciting the poems, the students “internalize the poems.”  He further stated that for the parents, the event is a “special moment, special time.”  In a follow-up e-mail with Chilton, he responded that he “was interested in getting Poetry Out Loud for Bakersfield because I had seen first-hand what it could do for students in North Carolina (where he had previously taught). I saw students who had no interest in poetry finally understand its power and impact on their lives when reading and reciting on their own. Students gain confidence, study skills, public speaking skills, and exposure to great works of literature that otherwise they might miss out on. I’m also simply a fan of reciting and memorizing poetry in my own life. I am often memorizing poetry on a weekly basis for my own enjoyment and intellectual stimulation, so I wanted students to see what it could do in their own lives.”

When Chilton was asked about how he became interested in poetry.  He shared that it was “during college when I first read Billy Collins for the first time. His poetry spoke to me on an immensely personal level and I understood that poetry was not simply to be read in a textbook in school but it offered a different way of looking at the world.”

At the competition, the high school students came up and recited their memorized poems in front of parents, guests and judges.  There were nine students who competed by reciting two poems.  There were two rounds of competition, the students reciting one poem during each round.  The students had selected the poems from hundreds of poems from the POL website.  Chilton had a copy of the poems selected, and he followed along during the recitation for the accuracy of the memorization.  There were three judges that scored electronically according to a grid.  The results of the scores were available immediately.

The next step after the local competition, will be for the winner to compete in Sacramento.

The winner of the contest was Katie Collins.  When asked about how it felt to be the winner, Collins said that she was surprised since any of the students could have been the winner. “I wasn’t really expecting it since everyone was so amazing. I was just shocked.  They were all fantastic and everyone gave it their best,” she said.

Collins’ choice to perform “Beautiful Wreckage” was because of a personal connection to the poem. “It was dramatic to me. It was easier to connect with because I know Vietnamese people. So I know the history of it,” she said. Collins picked “April Love” as her second poem because she wanted a “light” and “airy” poem to balance the seriousness of “Beautiful Wreckage.”

April Love

By Ernest Dowson

(Excerpt)

We have walked in Love’s land a little way,
We have learnt his lesson a little while,
And shall we not part at the end of day,
With a sigh, a smile?

So shall we not part at the end of day,
Who have loved and lingered a little while,
Join lips for the last time, go our way,
With a sigh, a smile?
 

Beautiful Wreckage

By W.D. Ehrhart

What if I didn’t shoot the old lady
running away from our patrol,
or the old man in the back of the head,
or the boy in the marketplace?

Or what if the boy—but he didn’t
have a grenade, and the woman in Hue
didn’t lie in the rain in a mortar pit
with seven Marines just for food,

Gaffney didn’t get hit in the knee,
Ames didn’t die in the river, Ski
didn’t die in a medevac chopper
between Con Thien and Da Nang.

In Vietnamese, Con Thien means
place of angels. What if it really was
instead of the place of rotting sandbags,
incoming heavy artillery, rats and mud.

What if the angels were Ames and Ski,
or the lady, the man, and the boy,
and they lifted Gaffney out of the mud
and healed his shattered knee?

What if none of it happened the way I said?
Would it all be a lie?
Would the wreckage be suddenly beautiful?
Would the dead rise up and walk?

The runner-up of the contest was Frances Eghre-Bello.  She used her experience in acting to help prepare for the performance. “I’m in theater,” she said. “I’ve taken classes on memorization. I used the same process, just going over it in my room and asking others for feedback,” she said.   The two poems that Eghre-Bello recited at the contest were “America” by Claude McKay and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou.  When deciding on what poems to perform, Eghre-Bello wanted to perform a poem by Angelou. “I read her book (in) freshman year and fell in love with her poetry. I felt it was very easy to understand. The first time I read through it I just got the metaphors. I felt I could do a good job reciting it.”

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

(Excerpt)

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky. . .

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

America

By Claude McKay

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

Day of Poetry

by Portia Choi

The day was dawning when I arrived at Dagny’s Coffee at 6:55 am.  The front door was locked, and there were workers inside with dim lights.  When the main lights went on and the door was unlocked, several cars parked and several men got into Dagny’s.  They seemed to be regular customers of the place; they found a table all to themselves near the window.  I went to the smaller room of the coffee house to set up for the Day of Poetry.  One of the workers unlocked the door to the smaller room and brought in several copies of the newspaper.  When I went to order my caffeine-free hot tea, the customers were already reading the newspaper and sipping their latte or expresso.

I set up the room for the Day.  There was the easel-sized post-it for our communal poem to be written one line at a time by all the poets and participants throughout the day.  There was paper of various colors, crayons and markers for persons of all ages to doodle and relax.  Today was to be spontaneous, to allow for flexibility and fun.  It was the first time to have a whole day of poetry—better be flexible (I wasn’t sure what would happen or who would show-up).  It was a nice thought to start the beginning of the year with lots of poetry.

To make the event seem friendly, there was a fruit bowl and water set out for any participants.  I was thinking about what to write for the first line of the communal poem.  The theme was to be on “NURTURE.”  As I was thinking, it would be interesting to have the first poet help write that first line.  As it happened, the first persons to come into the room was a father with a baby snuggled on his chest and also his daughter.  I knew the father and daughter.  I had not seen the baby before; I was told he was four months old.  And his daughter had grown; she was now nine years old.  The father was starting to feed the baby from a bottle.  (How appropriate, I thought, to have a father nurturing his child as we were getting ready to write a poem about nurture.)  I wanted the daughter to be relaxed, so she started to draw on a paper.  Well, I thought, why not have his daughter help with the first line.  She wrote: “Feeds, changes, love me.”  Then I wrote the second line:  “Listening, smiling, laughing.”  So the communal poem about “NURTURE” started, and the poem would be written throughout the day with persons adding one line at a time, only seeing the previously written line.  (The completed poem was read at the end of the day, and the poem is at the end of this story.)

 

Around 10:00 am, there were poets and friends who came to read their own poetry as well from their favorite poets.

Then there was a break for lunch.  (Throughout the day there was food:  fruit bowl all day, lunch boxes, and cookies in the afternoon)

At 1:00 pm, there was a guest poet LisaAnn LoBasso who happened to be at Dagny’s  speak about poetry.  Then the group helped with an “Exquisite Corpse.”  This is a poetry game in which a person writes one word on a card which is a noun, adjective or a verb.  The cards were collected and mixed up and a poem is written from the jumbled up cards with an adjective, noun, verb, adjective and noun.  What was unique about the Day’s Exquisite Corpse was that the words of the poem were being drawn as the words were being spoken.  This was possible since there was a poet, Thomas Lucero, who is also an artist at the event.  When a word was read, he drew images on the easel.  After the Exquisite Corpse was completed, there was a writing workshop.  Each of the persons  was asked to select a paper with different color.  The instructions were to write down the first word that came to their mind inspired by the color.  Then they were to write about the color:  the feeling, smell, sound, sight and taste.

At the end of Day, there were two poems that were written together by the community of poets and friends:

 

Nurture

(Each person wrote one line only seeing the previous one line written by another person.)

 

Feeds, changes, loves me

Listening, smiling, laughing

High love, we love, love

Patiently and tenderly

A lesson of nurture will last forever

I want to nurture to others that need help

Be who you are, shine from your heart then give it away, doing your part

Every act of love makes a difference

The time we take to weave our love into their hair

Trust in yourself.  Love, one human being to another

It’s OK to make mistakes

Cut us down will grow again

When you fear rejection and you assume the worst, give someone a chance to prove you wrong

Forgiveness is more for your peace of mind than for the transgressor, give it freely.

I built a snowman yesterday, it was made of SNOW. . .

The radiance of the Sun made it melt and glow

Bear tracks glittered in the lightness

As we come face to face with the lion within

Simply ordinary.  Chicken noodle soup.  Down comforter.  Flannel pajamas.

Make a suit.  Made of pure clouds

. . .But when I came out yesterday to play, there MANY in a row. . .

All lined up, ready to love and be loved.

I wished to wrap you up in peace, to make you feel at home, to give you all my love

To love.  To Encourage.  To give unconditionally.  To watch HER GROW & SET HER FREE.

O see love stand the test of time, to have her . . let me see me grow

 

Exquisite Corpse

(Each person wrote one word on a card, then the cards were mixed up and read out consecutively)

throwing solemn face

crazy flower, beautiful notebook help!

shiny bird,

frenetic monolith holding radiant waterfall

complicated bees singing cowardly moss tower

luminate lusterous art

 

 

 

First Friday Open Mic January 6, 2017

story by Portia Choi

On the First Friday of January 2017, the featured poets at Dagny’s Coffee were Joseph Mosconi, Barry Michael and Maryah Paige Chester. They read from their poetry books which were in themselves a work of art. Each book was unusual and unique in its approach to presenting poetry.

Joseph Mosconi’s book had the look and feel of a magazine. The work was titled,
“FRIGHT CATALOG.” It consisted of ninety-one stanzas, one stanza of the poem to a page. On the first page of the book, it stated that “Each stanza of Fright Catalog was fed through the search engine of an online Color Theme generator. A different color theme was determined for each stanza, resulting in the color combinations you see on each page of this book. Every color theme addresses your feelings and is employed for certain moral ends.” One of the longest stanzas had sixteen words:
“AN ACCIDENTAL SHOT HEARD ROUND REFLECTIVE PROPERTY CARRIED BY CRAWLS OF TITAN BATS & SUPREME NARCOTIC AUDNANCE.”
One of the shorter ones was:
“DREAMS OF HORROR IN A RETARDED RAIN FOREST.”

Barry Michael’s book had a QR code corresponding to each of his poems. An excerpt from one of the poems that he read was:
“Take my love, take my land take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free You can’t take the sky from me . . .
There’s no place I can be since I’ve found
Serenity, and you can’t take the sky from me.”

Maryah Paige Chester’s book had her poems as well as poems by other prominent poets. The book also had artwork from artists: Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexandra Levasseur and others. There was a painting by Dimitra Milan in the book, and interesting the image of the woman in the painting looked very much like the poet, Maryah. Excerpt from one of her poems that she read was:
“I keep dreaming, thinking that there’s
Something else out there for me. . .
Murky waters is a false prophet, worthy of
An honorable deception. You see the light. . . “

Poetry books from The Bakersfield Fan Forum by Mosconi, Michael and Chester can be found on http://thebakersfieldfanforum.tumblr.com.

(There are more stories and photos about The Bakersfield Fan Forum are on previous posts on this website: kernpoetry.com)

 
During the Open Mic portion of First Friday, one of the poets, Mateo Lara, performed. He was willing to share his poem for the website,

It Took Me (an excerpt):
“Fires: embed themselves in our withered shroud,
Tangled up in my doubts, so I thought of a flood,
Ravaged by a simple need, quench, that what we feel,
Even torn apart, by little wants and desires, . . .
Caked with words left unsaid, I guess they’ll dissolve in my mouth,
Right here, it took me too much time, to tell you all I had in mind,
When you’d disappear, reappear, and never once figured out what it meant.”

 

Another performer was Shanna O’Brien who sang her original lyrics and played the guitar:

Invisible Wings (an excerpt):

“When I was a young girl before I’d fall asleep
I prayed that I would wake up with invisible wings
Promised not to show off or do outrageous things
I just wanted to fly with my invisible wings. . . . .

Young girl dreams never go away
Still in my heart even today
Strumming my guitar a melody to sing
Suddenly I feel invisible wings

And I can fly over mountains high
Over the rivers and valleys in my life
Fly feeling my heart sing. . . . .
I’m soaring over oceans of life with
Invisible wings”

Featured Poet: Chris Fendt

Story by: Martin Chang

Photos by: Greg D. Cook and Martin Chang

top box photo provided by Chris Fendt

 

Chris Fendt is inspired by different aspects of life. For Fendt, a chance meeting with a stranger, his favorite music, or quiet moments in Bakersfield, can inspire him to write.

Growing up in Orange, California, Fendt describes his home life as supportive.  “My parents were great, very nurturing,” he said.  In kindergarten Fendt was picked on and his parents found a solution.  “My parents could sense that I wasn’t very happy,” Fendt said.  “So, they gave me an option, they said “would you like to go to a different school? I jump at the chance. Saying “yes please get me out of here.”

So Fendt spent first through eighth grade at a private Catholic school called Holy Family.  Some writers find the rules and conformity of private school unenjoyable, Fendt enjoyed the experience.  “private school you have to wear uniforms; everyone looks the same, dresses the same. It was a very harmonious experience.”

It was also at Holy Family that got the first taste of attention and recognition for his writing talents.  “For a brief time I was an altar boy, and I remember in seventh grade that I got some recognition from one of my instructors. I got a creative writing pin,” Fendt fondly remembers.

Although he does not consider himself particularly religious, Fendt’s time spent being exposed to religious belief as a child led him to believe that artistic talent comes from a place outside of the person.  Fendt has had experiences with what he calls the “unknown” and “mysteries that I can’t wrap my head around.”  He said, “that ability to write, that talent, you wonder where that comes from.  It makes me wonder if there is a God.”

“Cozy,” one of Fendt’s recent poems, captures a moment of clarity that he experienced here in Bakersfield.  “I was sitting on the bluffs overlooking the oil fields.  I didn’t have much sleep that night and the sounds of the city, the traffic, barking dogs, captured that way I felt within,” recalls Fendt.  “It always feels like I’m looking for something,  but I can’t have the answers.  I think that might be the human condition that you’re always searching, that you will always be learning something till the day you die.  So I guess that why I wrote this poem. “

Fendt titled the poem “Cozy” because he wants to create the feeling of that moment he experienced. He describes that feeling, “finally I feel that I have a warm blanket around me and everything will be okay.”   “Cozy” is below:

Cozy

People pass right through me

Like mourners in a line,

Not a word

Nor laughter.

Passing away in time.

 

Shadows seem to threaten,

And I can’t get warm.

This climate can be oppressive

As chaos seems the norm.

 

Damn these hellish cities,

Where is my sacred bliss

As I lean upon the fence

Of limbo’s woebegone abyss?

 

And then in that moment

Of self perpetuating despair…

An impartial blood moon to greet me

Releasing me of care.

 

Fendt finds inspiration in everyday meetings. One of his poems was inspired by a chance meeting with a stranger. “There was one guy who came up to me, he had on a motorcycle helmet straight out of Easy Rider.  He had a pink Frisbee around his neck. I don’t know how he got it over his neck.  He just looked so weird.”  The poem inspired by this meeting is “Homeless Man” and reads as follows:

Pink frisbee like a halo

Around his neck-

Light er’ up

What the heck.

The world can end at any time.

All he wants is a thin dime.

 

Fendt has been a lifelong fan of music and is a musician himself.  He is a fan of music with a darker edge and is a particular fan of Depeche Mode and their song “Everyone Counts.” The lyrics of rock music was his first exposure to poetry.

In his poem “Hope” He responds to a song with a whaling child in the background. “In the song you hear a baby’s cry, then as the song progresses it turns in an adult’s voice.  The song is trying to say that the suffering will continue,” Fendt said. ““Hope” is kind of putting that into words. Then I add my own answer to that dark environment that the song creates.” In “Hope,” Fendt attempts to put some light into the dark themes of the song, he wants to create the feeling of believing in “greater things then yourself.”  “Hope” is as follows:

Cries of infancy

Carry over into adulthood-

The wailing

And suffering

Of want.

 

The drone of existance

In the backdrop-

Dull routine

That we resist

Only leaving us

Incumbents of incapacitation.

 

Who will resusitate

Our will

But by faith alone

In greater things

Than ourselves

 

Fendt’s poetry can be found at emptyglassgeometry.com