MY SECOND BOOK, A REALITY!
Two days ago two boxes appeared on our front porch. Inside were copies of Bringing Home the Moon, a poetry book that’s been ten years in the making. I finished much of it at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga as an artist in residence. But sometimes illness interferes, and this past year I’ve worked on the book sporadically, set it up, chosen the poems, and sent it to a couple of presses with time to spare. I’ve been pretty well housebound.
It was Dave Denny, first Poet Laureate of Cupertino, who made the difference. He suggested a press down south that he thought might be interested. They were. It took several months and some tough proofreading and editing (I still can’t figure out how to number pages.), but the book looks good and reads well. I thank Karen Kelsay, my editor at Aldrich Press, for going out of her way to work with me.
One poet friend talked of what we hoped to get from a writing group. I have three: Peerless Poets, Poetry Salon, and Poetry Circle. And I learn from all each time we meet. My friend’s strategy for structuring a poem is what I ended up using in the new book. The book provides a set of stepping stones for readers to follow as they make their way from the opening to the ending. I used some of the poems from my first book to make the new book flow. It has three sections. The first deals with living in Chicago and moving finally to Los Angeles. Then the big move to what now is called Silicon Valley. The last section is a gallimaufry of this and that. It ends with a few poems on Space, big in Silicon Valley.
Kelsay Books, Aldrich Press, 2015
Peninsula Volunteers keeps many of the senior citizens of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton who are in need (and you’d be surprised how many that is) going strong. They fund Meals on Wheels, Rosener House (relief for caregivers), Little House (senior citizens’ classes, workshops and exercise spots), and two apartment complexes with low income prices. The pictures below are: the Meals on Wheels delivery truck (along with many of the PVs own cars, of course.) And the second picture is of Jack, my husband, our daughter Linda (who will head up Meals on Wheels this coming year), and me.
We are at the dedication of the inner courtyard do-over named for one of the Peninsula Volunteers, Ann Griffith, who has done so much for the organization. This was funded by John Arrillaga, the philanthropist, and Mervyn and Roz Morris. Now diners and meeting attendees will be shielded by a huge tarp-like structure to keep out the sun and can enjoy the flowers that are everywhere in the courtyard.
On April 27th The National League of American Pen Women heard their Northern California president, Dorothy Atkins, speak on Sarah Breedlove, an entrepreneur and philanthropist. She is regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madame C.J.Walker. A fascinating talk about a life well lived. Dorothy Atkins brought hats to the luncheon left to her by her mother-in-law, who was a seamstress at I. Magnin and made all her own clothes.
We were enjoying the company of members of the San Jose Women’s Club and trying on hats. Audry Lynch and I are busy looking over all the color at the table.
FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT C.J.WALKER
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, on a cotton plantation near Delta, Louisiana. Her parents, Owen and Minerva, were recently freed slaves, and Sarah, who was their fifth child, was the first in her family to be free-born.
Sarah married a man named Moses McWilliams. On June 6, 1885, Sarah gave birth to a daughter, A’Lelia. When Moses died two years later, Sarah and A’Lelia moved to St. Louis, where Sarah’s brothers had established themselves as barbers. There, Sarah found work as a washerwoman, earning $1.50 a day—enough to send her daughter to the city’s public schools. She also attended public night school whenever she could. While in St. Louis, Breedlove met her second husband Charles J. Walker, who worked in advertising and would later help promote her hair care business.
During the 1890s, Sarah Breedlove developed a scalp disorder that caused her to lose much of her hair, and she began to experiment with both home remedies and store-bought hair care treatments in an attempt to improve her condition.
In 1905, Breedlove was hired as a commission agent by Annie Turnbo Malone—a successful, black, hair care product entrepreneur—and she moved to Denver, Colorado. While there, Breedlove’s husband Charles helped her create advertisements for a hair care treatment for African Americans that she was perfecting. Her husband also encouraged her to use the more recognizable name “Madam C.J. Walker,” by which she was thereafter known.
[Biographical text and images of C.J. Walker obtained online and from the Wikipedia.]
VILLAGE HOUSE OF BOOKS at 21 Main Street, Los Gatos, CA hosted the launch party for (AFTER)life: Poems and Stories of the Dead published by Victoria Johnson’s Purple Passion Press at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. The cover painting, ‘The Grass Bends’, is by local artist Lacey Bryant. The anthology is edited by Renée M. Schell, Barbara Froman, and Marta Svea Wallien.
The reading was great fun. Can you imagine getting paid for your poem, two free books, and a T-shirt? My poem is called “Remains”, which I unearthed from some notes I took when I lived near the Coquille River in Oregon.
Here’s a beautiful poem for the close of 2014.
by Nils Peterson
A low morning sun threw fluttering
shadows against my window.
I thought, the angels have come.
Maybe it was just small birds, feasting
on winter berries, but I thought angels,
and thought they’ve whispered
in our ears, for something grows inside.
Our walks change with the weight of it.
Our eyes reach out for what is small, tender,
or shining. Something wants
to be born into this world,
and we grow inward and heavy with it.
(Also by Nils Peterson, from a poem in For This Day II
…he stayed around
watching, and humming
a new song almost to himself.
Be still enough.
You will hear.
MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
…AND THEY WERE REWARDED. KHALIDA SARWARI of Silicon Valley Community Newspapers wrote this article that was published in the Los Gatos Community Paper, Around Town, on August 8, 2014. The Mercury News originally carried the article on August 6, 2014.
Longtime Saratoga residents Audry Lynch and Mary Lou Taylor thanks share a love of writing and of old Hollywood.
Last month Lynch, 81, and Taylor, 84, were honored at the Hollywood Festival of Books held in the Academy Room at the Roosevelt Hotel for their individual books, both of which shine a spotlight on the movie stars of yore. In The Rebel Figure in American Literature and Film, Lynch reveals an interconnection between movie star James Dean and novelist John Steinbeck; and Taylor’s The Fringes of Hollywood teleports readers back to another era, or as Taylor describes in her poem, “Glamour Redux,” “manicured lawns and silks and furs in Beverly Hills, Grauman’s Chinese sculpted in footprints of the stars, bright glow on a hill that spelled out ‘Hollywood’ in giant white letters.”
“Glamour Redux” is one of more than 70 poems in “Fringes,” almost all of them about Hollywood or her experience growing up in southwest L.A. and running into the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Gary Cooper.
“I thought, I want to write about this,” Taylor said. “In the ’40s and ’50s the stars were pretty big. I went to school with them and ran into them in bathrooms. It’s fun to think back on it.”
Lynch said she, too, was swept up by the magic of Tinseltown. “We just succumbed to the glamour of Hollywood,” she said.
Both ladies and their families went down to Los Angeles for the award ceremony on July 26, where Lynch accepted an award for best book in the biography and autobiography category and Taylor’s collection of poems was declared the winner in the wild card category. Lynch described the ceremony as “a mini Oscar evening for writers.” Taylor fell ill and sent her husband and friend to accept the award on her behalf.
Lynch has had a 40-year obsession with Steinbeck, making him the focal point in two other books, titled Steinbeck Remembered and With Steinbeck in the Sea of Cortez. Her latest book looks at how the lives of Steinbeck, Dean and director Elia Kazan intersected on Kazan’s East of Eden, based on Steinbeck’s 1952 novel. The movie catapulted all three to fame.
The book also traces similarities between Steinbeck and Dean, the main ones being that both were college dropouts who hailed from small towns and conservative families. Dean and Steinbeck both disliked their hometowns and left at the age of 18, but were buried there–Dean in Marion, Ind., and Steinbeck in Salinas–upon their death.
In life, both men had difficult personas and complicated relationships and struggled with the notion that they had disappointed their fathers.
“Through it all, they were producing all these genius films and books,” Lynch said. “I thought it was amazing they were so alike.”‘
Lynch is working on a book about Mark Twain and his travels to Bermuda, where he is considered a rock star, she said. She is a member of the California Writers Club and the National League of American Pen Women. Lynch is a graduate of Harvard University, Boston University and the University of San Francisco, where she obtained a doctorate degree in psychology.
Before committing her life to writing, she served as a guidance counselor for 32 years and taught English at Mission College for 25 years. Lynch has lived in Saratoga since 1970.
Taylor is also working on publishing a new book. Hers will be another poetry collection titled Bringing Home the Moon, and will explore “constraint versus flight.”
She is a Montalvo Arts Center artist-in-residence and serves as a trustee for the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University. She graduated from UCLA and SJSU and taught English and speech at Monta Vista and Fremont High schools. Taylor has lived in Saratoga since 1967.