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This Sunday, April 6, poets Brendan Constantine, Yvonne M. Estrada, Peter J. Harris, Lynne Thompson and Terry Wolverton will test their mettle and celebrate National Poetry Month at Skylight Books. If you’d like us to pen a poem for your pooch, scribe a sonnet for your secretary, or ink iambs about the Indianapolis 500, come to Skylight Books, 1818 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027 from 2-4 p.m.

You’ll be assigned to a poet, describe the poem you’re hoping for, and the poet will go to work. Within approximately 30 minutes you’ll leave with a signed copy of a poem by a celebrated poet, written just for you.  And yes, it’s free.

It’s on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t miss out! These five poets are just crazy enough to pull this off.

THEN, go grab a latte and stick around for the 5 p.m. National Poetry Month reading by Poets At Work: Kim Dower, Yvonne M. Estrada, Dylan Cameron Gailey, Brett Guitar Hofer, Eric Howard, Kay Sundstrom Sharon Venezio, Tina Yang and Terry Wolverton. Watch and listen as they pull a round of winning hands from the poetry deck.

 

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Terry Wolverton holds magnetic poetry in her hands. Photo by Angela Brinskele.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Skylight Books teams up with Writers At Work to bring you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: Five widely published and highly regarded poets — Brendan Constantine, Yvonne M. Estrada, Peter J. Harris, Lynne Thompson and Terry Wolverton — will create “A Poem for You,” an original poem written spontaneously and just for you or a designated recipient.

Just think — an original poem to give your loved ones; congratulate friends or colleagues on a new job, a marriage, a baby; commemorate a special moment. You can even request a curse poem for someone who did you wrong.

Here’s how it works: Come to Skylight Books on Sunday, April 6, 2014, between 2-4 p.m. You’ll be matched with one of the poets and have the opportunity to tell them the content you’re looking for. The poet will go to work while you browse the store, and within 20-30 minutes, you’ll receive a signed copy of your poem.

Poem-seekers will be assigned to poets on a first-come, first-served basis. Poem-seekers will give input, but poets will maintain their poetic license to interpret as the muse guides them. Poets will retain the copyright to their work (they can publish it; you cannot).

Skylight Books is located at 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.

Participating Poets

Brendan Constantine is the author of Letters to Guns, Birthday Girl With Possum and Calamity Joe. He is poet-in-residence at Windward School and has brought poetry workshops to libraries, hospitals, foster-care centers, correctional facilities and shelters for the homeless. He is also proud of his work with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. He currently curates a reading series in partnership with the Craft and Folk Art Museum. www.brendanconstantine.com

Yvonne M. Estrada is a poet and photographer. Her recent chapbook, My Name on Top of Yours, features both poems and original photographs. Her poetry has been published in Emerging Urban Poets Workshop Anthology (vols. 1-3), … and in fact there was no ceiling fan, (en)closures, San Gabriel Valley Quarterly, Catena, Mischief, Caprice & Other Poetic Strategies, Pulse Magazine, GuerrillaReads, Verse Wisconsin and the Poem of the Month 2011 Calendar.

Peter J. Harris is founding director of The Black Man of Happiness Project, a creative, intellectual and artistic exploration of Black men and joy. He has published poetry, essays and fiction in national publications; worked as a publisher, journalist, editor and broadcaster; and been an educator and workshop leader for adults and adolescents. Bless the Ashes, a book of poetry, will be published in fall 2014 by Tia Chucha Press. He’s author of the joyful book The Vampire Who Drinks Gospel Music: The Stories of Sacred Flow & Sacred Song. www.blackmanofhappiness.com

Lynne Thompson won Perugia Press’s First Book Award for Beg No Pardon, which was also awarded Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award. Her work has been published in numerous journals, including Sou’wester, Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review and the anthology New Poets of the American West. Her latest collection, Start With a Small Guitar, was published by What Books Press in October 2013. She is the reviews and essays editor for the literary journal Spillway.

Terry Wolverton is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, most recently, Wounded World: lyric essays about our spiritual disquiet. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, and Affiliate Faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is currently collaborating with composer David Ornette Cherry to adapt her book Embers as an opera. www.terrywolverton.com

For more information, contact Terry Wolverton, 323-661-5954, wtrsatwork@aol.com.

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The Gull

 

Tonight I am talking in the bay’s white fog,

a spot where the bay shuts its mouth,

and a gull glides near.

Stiff-winged, the gull sings the thick whistle

of an old wound.  Once, I stood

in the bay’s dark waters.

I was a boy looking at the arms of stars,

spindly tips, fingerless, sharp as mouths.

I do not wish these stars closer now.

I never did.  And though the gull gets nearer stars

than I ever Will, I do not envy the lone gull

its night air or its dark tail.  The gull must cull fog

with tiny eyes, its short black beak pushing

first, and I simply can stand

like a turned post in the white slow mud of wind,

an old log left behind by a long-left-behind bridge

or an old man who is dust in this damp sand.

Now I will long forget the dampness of this sand.

And I can stare at the wind like the stars for an hour,

for Will has lost its blessing, and I am washed

from the skin by the rattle

of waves, by cold air.  This white salt

in the water on the sand as dim

as the dead star reaching,

reaching into the gull’s dark white heaven.

I look away.  I wander into the wide night.

 

Joe Jiménez lives in South Texas with his two xolo itzcuintlis and an affinity for the Gulf.  He authored Silver Homeboy Flicka Illuminates the San Juan Courts at Dawn (Gertrude Press 2012), and his work has appeared in elimae, La Petit Zine, and the short film “El Abuelo.”

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Everyone knows that the best-tasting holiday cookies are the ones made from scratch with fresh ingredients and a lot of love. The same goes for gifts. Southern California’s indie presses are cooking up unique, reasonably priced poetry and fiction appealing to almost every taste. Check them out online or visit an indie bookstore, and enjoy the warm holiday feeling that comes from knowing you supported local artists and businesses instead of overseas sweatshops and multi-national retail chains.

Here are a few presses and stores we recommend.

Southern California-based Presses:

  • Angel City Press: nostalgic yet cool illustrated books
  • Arktoi Books: poetry and fiction that give lesbian writers access to “the conversation”
  • Cahuenga Press: poetry that honors creative freedom and cooperation
  • Cloverfield Press: books as visually beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating
  • Dzanc Books: literary fiction that falls outside the mainstream
  • Gorsky Press: risk-taking books that encourage readers to re-examine society
  • Green Integer: essays, manifestos, speeches, epistles, narratives, and more
  • Les Figues Press: aesthetic conversations between readers, writers, and artists, with an avant-garde emphasis
  • Make Now Press: contemporary works of constraint and conceptual literature
  • Otis Books/Seismicity: contemporary fiction, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and translation
  • Red Hen Press: poetry and more by writers whose work has been marginalized
  • San Diego City Works Press: local, ethnic, political, and border writing
  • Santa Monica Press: offbeat looks at pop culture, lively how-to books, film history, travel, and humor

Independent Bookstores in L.A.:

Happy holidays from the Future of Publishing Think Tank*!

*The Future of Publishing Think Tank is an ad hoc group of writers and representatives of independent publishers and bookstores, nonprofit literary organizations, and producers of public radio. Our task: to consider the changes occurring in publishing, distribution, and marketing of literary work and to envision new ways for writers to engage readers and build audiences for their work. Groups who that have been involved include 826LA, Arktoi Books, GuerrillaReads, the HeArt Project, Hol Art Books, “Indymedia on Air” (KPFK), the Lambda Literary Foundation, Les Figues Press, Poet Joi, Poets & Writers, Red Hen Press, Skylight Books, and Writers at Work.

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Earlier this year, the Future of Publishing Think Tank surveyed readers to find out how and why they choose the books they read and buy. Armed with that information, we have some recommendations for how writers, publishers and booksellers can promote their work and connect to readers. Here’s a short video summarizing the basics. To see the full slideshow with all the results and recommendations, click here.

To embed this short video in your blog or website, you can grab the YouTube version here. If you want to embed the full slideshow in your blog or website, contact us for details.

If you have ideas on how writers, publishers and booksellers can promote their work, add your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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Eloise Klein Healy gave the opening remarks at the Writers at Work 10th Anniversary Reading and Celebration. Listen here:

If you don’t see the embedded media player – or if you want to download the MP3, just click here.

You can read more about Eloise and buy her new collection of poetry, The Islands Project, here.

The Islands Project

To hear Terry Wolverton’s welcome, click here.

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