IN THE BEGINNING…

Cover

“The power of the extracted image and the power of a timeless story…” says Simon Pettet, author of Lyrical Poetry. Mary Lou Taylor’s newest publication, In the Beginning, brings you biblical tales—a combination of the poet’s precise meditations on David Park’s delicately sinuous artistry, titled “Genesis Suite.”

This slender publication, put together by Frog on the Moon, a small press, consists of “fourteen stencil prints making a perfect thematic language to tell Bible stories,” as Grace Cavalieri from the Library of Congress puts it. She says, “I love Taylor’s In The Beginning, colorful and meaningful—complete with stunning worlds and visuals; it seems neither poem nor picture could live without the other.” Furthermore, Cavalieri says, “this is bright speech invested in lyric; with sheer lingual strength to make old legends new.”

In this new publication, you will find new poems by Mary Lou Taylor, who was inspired by David Park’s “Genesis Suite“, and as Grace Cavalieri mentions, “has formed a legacy you’ll come back to, for enlightenment and delight. You’ll want to reread, savor, and share this work of art…for the purest pleasure.”

In addition, here are comments from our First Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, (2009-2011) Nils Peterson, Professor Emeritus, San José State University. “To the exquisite prints created by David Park out of stories from Genesis, Mary Lou Taylor adds poems that give context and commentary. Sometimes she even speaks the imagined voices of the actors in that great drama. Together they make a remarkable book, a beautiful book, one that you will want on your shelf to look at and read again and again.”

SOME POEMS FROM IN THE BEGINNING, by Mary Lou Taylor.

Shape 

THE CURSE OF CAIN

Cain tilled the earth. Abel kept sheep.

Lord, I bring you fruits from the fertile ground.
Accept them with my respect and love. Cain knelt
before his God in reverential pose.

God refused his offering. I see your brother’s
blood in your mouth. You are a man of wrath.
I accept only Abel’s sheep. Cain became enraged.

Meeting Abel, blood in his eye, Cain lifted a stone.
I am bleeding, brother. Leave me enough to live.
But Cain no longer listened.

God questioned Cain. Where is your brother Abel?
Cain replied, I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?
Cain the first murderer; Able the first to die.

The Lord cursed Cain, saying, You have contaminated
the earth with your brother’s blood. It will no longer
be fruitful in your hands.

Cain left the Lord, banished now to wander, traveling
to the land of Nod, east of Eden.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

DAVID PARK (March 17, 1911-September 20, 1960) was an American painter and a pioneer of the Bay Area Figurative Movement in painting during the 1950’s. A Park retrospective opens later this year at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art. It comes to SFMOMA in 2020.

Check out other paintings by this artist on the video in this blog.

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SAIL ALONG PAPER “MOON”

THE THIRD THURSDAY JANUARY 21 READING AT WILLOW GLEN was a full house. Many of my friends, both personal and poet friends, attended the reading. Several copies of my new book, Bringing Home the Moon were sold that evening. Here are a couple of videos from that reading.

FROM THE PENNY CANDY STORE BEHIND THE EL

Walk down three steps to the mom-and-pop store
near Hayte School and enter a Hansel-and-Gretel land

of striped peppermint sticks, gumballs, jawbreakers
and, best of all, bubblegum. I could blow the biggest,

most unladylike bubbles in the second grade,
huge pink balloons that bloomed until I ran out of air.

What didn’t seem right, though, were the bubblegum wrappers,
like tiny cartoon strips, five sections of off-center print.

All in color, red meant blood. Severed legs and heads flew
through the air. Children, little arms stiff, lay in broken heaps.

My father explained new words to me: behead, disembowel.
From a Dubble Bubble wrapper at the penny candy store

I found out about the Sino-Japanese war. I could hardly wait
to open more gum, blocked out in green and black and blood.

MORNING WALK

We heard them before we saw them.
Two jays fluttering, screeching.
Then a swoosh so close we could
almost touch the hawk sailing past,
wings outspread, something
in its beak. Something small
with feathers. With only a quick look
still we knew. High above us the jays
squawked and flapped in disbelief,
their just-hatched baby out of sight
in little more than an instant. The jays
might not know its end, a beautiful
death come quickly
. We walked on,
hoping that was so, knowing they knew.

THE LIBRARY AT THE MARKHAM HOUSE

Plunge by Alice Jones, Open Book by Valerie Coulton, My Rice Tastes Like the Lake by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, and Equinox by Edward Smallfield, four of the featured titles from Apogee Press in Berkeley. These four just-released books are slated for the Naomi Clark Library upstairs in the Markham House at History San José, California.

NAOMI CLARK

Ed and wife Valerie Coulton are living in Barcelona, Spain, but we keep in touch. Ed was in on the founding of Apogee and my first poetry mentor. So Apogee graciously sends the library newly-published books from this innovative and experimental press. The featured books have good design, colorful covers, and promote diverse and original language. Worth a visit to the Markham House to check them out.

The Edwin Markham House contains a collection of poetry books, now over 700 donated, along with anthologies, reference books, and small press publications. The library is located on the second floor, which also has a reading/writing room equipped with a copier. Downstairs, a resource room contains Markham’s original bookcase, holding poetry books for children—classics, new publications and reference books for those interested in teaching poetry to their classes. This section has television, DVD’s, and magnetic boards for writing. For more information, check out the website for the Poetry Center San José.

At the moment, the entire library is cataloged online (except the just-donated poetry books from Pat Compton), and can be accessed by visiting the Naomi Clark Library through LibraryThing. Our goal is to have the house at History Park open, first on Tuesday afternoons, and later, two days a week.

The children’s library was made possible by a grant from Air Systems Foundation, Inc. Both libraries are open to book donations; we ask that you go through your own library and set aside what you can spare. We are looking for volunteers to man access to the library.

We could certainly use your help, and you’d have at least part of the docent time to read and write. Please give this some thought.

Markham House at History San José

TAYLOR-MADE

…At our high school reunion a classmate
asked me: Weren’t you valedictorian?
Someone remembered. Pleased,
I turned to hear her next words:

What have you done since?

I haven’t written the Great American Novel. Nor become a famous figure. But I have found my avocation—writing poetry. And those of us who do find it pretty well fills up our lives. 

In January, Montalvo Arts Center offered me a residency. What do you do with pure time on your hands? I’m planning every minute: finishing my manuscript; sending out poems; looking at past writing to find a good line or a poem I’ve overlooked; contacting different presses to see if they’re interested in backing my collection of poems about Hollywood, stars and movies written by poets from John Ashbury to Robert Hass. One of the best, about Elvis and a waitress, was written by Joyce Carol Oates.

I have signed permission from Bob Hass, Brenda Hillman, Denise Duhamel, Nils Peterson, and Ed Smallfield to use their Hollywood poems. But Denise tells me that I’ll need a press before the publishers will allow any reprints, so I’ll be working on that. Anyone else out there with Hollywood poems? I’d love to take a look at them: mltpoet@aol.com.

The launch of The Call: An Anthology of Women’s Writing, Dragonfly Press, Columbia, CA, came about in December, 2009. You’ll recognize names of some of the poets and short story writers: Parthenia Hicks, Jean Emerson, Kathie Isaac-Luke, Carolyn Dille, Calder Lowe, and me. Hope you’ll look for it. How we miss Willow Glen Books!