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Open Mic August 4, 2017

First Friday Open Mic – August 4, 2017

 Story by Shanna O’Brien

Photos by: Christina Noel

 

It was so much fun covering the hostess position for Portia at the August 4, 2017 Kern Poetry open mic night held at Dagny’s Coffee Shop.  The room was full to capacity with enthusiastic smiling folks ready to share their hearts and souls.  As each poet or musician expressed their art, the audience quietly listened and responded with appreciative applause. Everyone encouraged the “newbies” to continue writing and continue coming back to share.  Several people said they could feel the love and support in the room and that’s what it’s all about.  It takes courage to stand in front of people we don’t know and expose thoughts and feelings in poetry and song. At the end of the night we gave one last round of applause for everyone in the room, thanking each other for showing up and participating.

One of the poets who attended was Emily Andrews, who graciously agreed to an interview and below are her answers to my questions:

How did you come to express yourself through poetry? 

“I was looking for a way to express my heart’s language.  I wanted to speak the truth and just get everything out on paper.  Once I wrote my first poem I was hooked.   It was so thrilling —  the feeling you get when you finish your very own masterpiece.”

Do you have any influences?

“My first influence was my Mom. She sparked my interest in English and writing at a very young age.  She taught English.  She is a very captivating and educated woman.  I am also influenced by Reyna Biddy.  She speaks from the heart and is all about spoken word.  I also admire the R. H. Sin’s “Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel” series.  It gets me writing every time I put the book down.”

What inspires you to write?  “What mainly inspires me is an emotion bubbling up inside and when I spill the ink on paper it represents how I’m feeling in that moment in time.  And when I write, I try to come up with a message of truth and go from there.”

Can you describe the time when you first realized that writing was something you absolutely had to do?

“I felt very empty inside and writing filled my soul and I realized, when other people could relate to my words, it was something that I had to do.”

Do you have a favorite poem you’ve written?

“My favorite is a simple poem called “Life’s a Beach” – it was a simple time in my life that sparked that emotion but it was the first poem I was ever proud of.”

 

Below is one of the two poems Emily shared with us on Friday, Aug. 4.

“Revolving”

by Emily Andrews

Boom! I’m Back

Thrown against the ground tossed under the depths of ocean blue emotion I feel for you

I might drown

I’m like a boomerang you see

I always come back around

I come up for air before I hit the ground

Why do I feel things so deeply you ask? My answer is simple, love doesn’t hurt me, the love I have for you doesn’t hurt me, what you choose to do with that love hurts me. I’m a boomerang but I’m not coming back around this time

Lies I tell myself as I prepare to deny your late night messages of lust

Throwing me away but expecting me to come back

As if you didn’t confine me enough

I’m a boomerang and I keep coming back

I always come back

It is the way I am wired

To love without getting tired

To give without anything in return required

One thing must change

I’m a boomerang

You just need to want me when I come back around.

 

 

Also attending was actor/writer/landscape architect/artist, Edward Charles Waters, who shared his spoken word describing what his father meant to him. Edward’s emotional presentation came from deep in his heart and his tears moved everyone in the room.  Edward agreed to answer a few questions for our readers.

What moved you to present spoken words about your Father?

The piece I presented titled “Dad” is one of two dominant works of mine.  Both are about my father and me during the period of time when I was between the ages of three and eight.  I wanted to support my friend Shanna O’Brien who was hosting the Open Mic at Dagny’s on August 4.  I wanted to perform this most personal piece for her and for a live audience.  As an actor / performer, it is important that I take advantage of opportunities to flay the skin off my vulnerabilities.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

Who I am and what I came from I suppose.  I like “slice of life” works.  Ones that take me somewhere vividly and introduce me to people and thoughts I otherwise would not have known – works that inform me and teach me.  I am informed and taught in the writing of the work and am informed and taught in the reading or observation of what others produce.  This kind of work brings us closer together.

What does being creative mean to you?

It means everything.  I am so fortunate to be gifted with Creativity.  To be able to express what I see and feel artistically!  Art, which is the expression of Creativity, is the language of God.  By utilizing my gift, I align myself with God and all the Power and Knowledge of the Universe!

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

I always get still.  I listen.  After a while, I see.  After another while, I understand.  The answer comes.  The answer comes as to what to say, how to play the part, how to solve the design problem.  I have learned that in all forms of Art, I cannot force the process.  I merely have to get out of my own way.

What’s the favorite thing you’ve ever created?

My life and I create and recreate it daily!

 

Below is Edward Charles Waters spoken word titled “Dad.”

“DAD”

by Edwards Charles Waters

In the early fifties, I was just a little guy and Dad was a single parent who had custody of me on weekends.  He was a striking figure of a man with matinee idol good looks.  But instead of opting for a social life with adult friends on weekends, he chose to spend that time with me.

He was a guide and a teacher and the world of Chicago was our classroom.  His style was somewhere between Socrates’ and Mickey Spillane’s.

He introduced me to so many people, places and things that I had a head start on other kids my age and never lost ground.

He took me to every nook and cranny in the City of Chicago.  To Lincoln Park and the Zoo.  To see Bushman, the gorilla.  To the Lion House at feeding time.  He sat me on his shoulders so I had a good view.

We walked and talked on dark streets late at night.  A “Mutt and Jeff” pair.  He took me to past crime scene locations, to all-night diners and to corner taverns.  He took me to all the museums and to the planetarium.  To Lake Michigan and the “Rocks”.  To Notre Dame and to mass.

He introduced me to Shakespeare, Homer, Cicero and Caesar.  To navy bean soup, cotton candy and street vendor hot dogs.  To “Dick the Bruiser”, the “Cisco Kid” and his sidekick “Pancho”, and to Jack Brickhouse.

He let me sit on his lap and drive his car and ride the roller-coaster at Riverview Park.

He taught me how to swim and how to dive, how to tread water and how to float on my back.

He taught me to “try it”, to fear nothing and no one, to be proud to be a Waters, and to walk right up and “stick your hand out.”

He taught me to help a blind person cross a street, that where there is right there is might, and that everyone deserves their “shot.”

He bragged some, but usually about others…like Uncle Charles, or me.

He loved his country.  He loved the Navy…they had good “chow.”

He loved to lie in the sun.  He loved the water…any water.

He liked a beer every now and then, and to “stop in” on friends.

He loved me and I loved Him.

Bye Dad. I’ll see you soon.

Eddie

 

In closing I would like to say, “What a wonderful evening!”  Everyone is different yet we’re all the same, wanting to express what’s in our hearts.  So let’s

KEEP WRITING!

Nancy Edwards’ Mother Remembered

 Nancy Edwards’ Beloved Mother

story by Portia Choi 

       

Nancy Edwards

Nancy Edwards

Nancy Edwards’ mother is remembered today on Mother’s Day.

She often spoke of her mother’s Southern background, her gentility and graciousness.  It was during our lunches while planning poetry events that Nancy spoke of her mother.

Nancy Edwards, Ph.D., was a Professor of English at B.C. from 1968-2009.  She was a well-known poet in Kern County.  She was a vital and integral organizer of poetry events.

I knew that Nancy was fond of music.  She had collaborated with Howard Quilling, the former Professor of Music at Bakersfield College (B.C.)  She provided the poetry which inspired him to compose his music.

At the memorial celebration for Nancy, John Gerhold sang the compositions of Quilling and Edwards.  Gerhold is the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at B.C.  and the chairperson of Fenlinson Endowment Committee.  Gerhold said, “Nancy’s mother was a music teacher.  Nancy made a scholarship honoring her mother.  Nancy was a generous person, and helped students and future generataions.  Many of the students went on to be music teachers.”  The scholarship is named Frances Edwards Music Scholarship.

Nancy also collaborated with Rosa Garza, a Professor of Social Studies at B.C.  They published a chapbook, Beloved Mother, Querida Madre.   In the book Nancy wrote the poem “Beloved Mother” and Rosa translated the poem into Spanish.  At the memorial service, Rosa recited the Spanish translation.  Sheena Bhogal, a professor of English at B.C. recited the poem in English.

 

Beloved Mother

By Nancy Edwards

 

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

 

When you hold me

I want to return

To the perfume of

Your vanity table

And douse myself

In Mother’s love powder

Cake flour fine

Only mother has it

 

I am in the webbed flesh of your

Inside elbow Mother,

You are my cradle,

My beloved mother,

I live in the fragrance

Of your loose powder

And flower perfume

 

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

 

En la tela de tu codo

En esas capas de tierna piel

He nacido otra vez

Cuando me acaricias otra vez

Querida Madre

 

Cuando me acaricias

Quiero volver

Al perfume de

Tu tocador

Y ponerme polvo

Polvo de amor materno

Harina fina

Que solo la madre tiene

 

Estoy en la tela de tu codo

Tu eres mi cuna

Mi querida madre

Vivo en el polvo

Y perfume de flor

 

Siempre eres

El Lugar adentro

Donde me abrazas para siempre

En la corriente de mi nacer

Cuando estoy en tus brazos

Tue eres mi querida madre

 

Source:  Beloved Mothers Queridas Madres, BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE, 1992

EVERYTHING BARREN WILL BE BLESSED by Don Thompson

EVERYTHING BARREN WILL BE BLESSED by Don Thompson, Kern County Poet Laureate

Story by Portia Choi

Poets and friends gathered to celebrate National Poetry Month at Dagny’s Coffee on April 1, 2017.  They celebrated by discussing poems in a book by Don Thompson, the first Poet Laureate of Kern County.  The book is Everything Barren Will be Blessed.

Annis Cassells, Tim Chang, Portia Choi and Mona Sidhu each selected a poem from the book.  Then the poems were read aloud to the whole group, once by each individual, for a total of four times per poem.

With each re-reading, there was new understanding, feeling or image perceived from the poem.  There seemed to be continuing communication between the poet and the reader with each reading.

One of the poems discussed was “Tumbleweed.”  There was greater understanding of the poem as each person read the poem.  There was appreciation of the unique way that Thompson perceived his surroundings.  The last two lines of the poem is, “as if pulling the wind behind them/ caught on thousands of tiny hooks.”  One usually thinks that it’s the wind that blows a tumbleweed around.  Yet the poem states that it’s the wind being pulled by the tumbleweed.   And that the wind does not blow through, but is “caught” among the “tiny hooks.”

Another poem, also shown below, was “Abandoned Labor Camp.”

Thompson once said that he gets his inspiration from the “sound of silence, the night sounds, the silence behind the birds.”  He would pull off the road, and he stopped to listen.  “The animals are listening too,” he said.

“Poetry is about language. . . the language of interacting with the world,” said Thompson.

 

 

TUMBLEWEED

By Don Thompson

 

A lost tribe of tumbleweeds

crosses the road

a half mile or so ahead of me,

bounding along

while little ones hustle to keep up.

 

They’re uprooted, of course,

subject to the wind’s whims,

and could end anywhere—

maybe against a fence

to be gathered and burned by farm hands.

 

I know that . . .

But they seem so cheerful,

confidant and in control,

as if pulling the wind behind them

caught on thousands of tiny hooks.

 

 

ABANDONED LABOR CAMP

By Don Thompson

 

The rusted out and weathered sign

has nothing left to say—

like wooden grave markers

that used to have someone’s name on them.

 

You can tell that the two rows

of well-built bungalows

were tough for campesinos to get into.

There must have been a long waiting list.

 

But now, no glass intact,

and almost every door rkicked down,

ripped from the hinges that died hard,

the roofs slump, some already collaped.

 

And the few shade trees

that haven’t given up the ghost,

unpruned, unappreciated,

have gone crazy with loneliness.

 

 

 

 

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