Three Reasons to Dig Poetry at the S.B. Poetry Series at CAF

Now in its 11th year, the Santa Barbara Poetry Series regularly hosts readings by area poets and visiting ones, both those whose work has received national recognition and those who are just getting started. This month’s edition features quite the variety. Attendees will hear the work of Paul J. Willis and Rebecca Foust, both of whom have been featured in recent months in The Indy’s pages, as well as that of Alyssa Ogi, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School whose writing has caught the attention of Poetry Series’ organizer Carol DeCanio. Catch these weavers of words at the Contemporary Arts Forum (653 Paseo Nuevo) on Saturday, October 4, from 7-9 p.m. For more information, call 966-1423. And for a taste of the kind of poetic delights you’re in for, read on.

1) Paul Willis: He’s taught at Westmont for 20 years, but only recently published his first collection of poems, Visiting Home. Willis is an Oregon native and a Shakespeare expert, and his love of the Pacific Northwest mixes with Bard-ian rhythm and nature imagery in works like “The Heart of Things”:

This home of somber cedar, lichen, deer
printing mossy roads, clouds moiling,
a deep smell of forest duff, rinsed
and wrung-this home, this place, this Oregon

2) Rebecca Foust: Another relative newcomer to poetry, Foust hails from Pennsylvania and now lives in Northern California. Her 2007 chapbook, Dark Card, centers on the experience of raising a son with Asperger Syndrome, and does so with power and candor that is exemplified in this excerpt from “Apologies to my OBGYN”:

Sorry about how he defied your prognoses,
skyrocketed premiums, weighted the costs
in your cost-benefit analyses,
skewed bell-curve predictions
into one long, straight line;
sorry he took so much of your time

3) Alyssa Ogi: Among her poetic inspirations, Ogi cites Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, and Allen Ginsberg-obviously this youngster is not messing around. Ogi is the president of Dos Pueblos High School’s Quite Dead Poets’ Society and hopes soon to publish her work outside of the school’s newspaper. Judging from her poem “Sixteen Gauge,” she’s got a good shot at succeeding:

My grandmother could not understand
why I would want metal shoved through my ear,
the first in family history with intentional holes
And I said “there’s no reason”
but of course there’s always one, when you’re 16 and lost

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