Final Year as Vallejo’s Poet Laureate
During my second and final year as Vallejo’s poet laureate, I continued to host Poetry in Notion monthly and performed semi-regularly during the open mics on OZCAT KZCT 89.5FM and Poetry by the Bay.
On October 10, 2018, my interview with Nina Serrano aired on KPFA, and would later re-air on KZCT on February 14, 2019. I did a second interview with Nina about the Vallejo anthology that will air at a future date. On November 7, 2019 I did a second interview live on OZCAT radio with DJ Lala, Benicia Poet Laureate Tom Stanton, and in addition to reading poetry solo, performed “A Blessing for the Women who Pray with their Feet” in a duet with Nina Serrano.
After the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh our community held a vigil called Vallejo United Against Hatred & Anti-Semitism, during which I read a poem entitled “Pittsburgh.” I also wrote another poem entitled “A World without Bullets” which I premiered on KZCT on November 29, 2018. During the winter holiday season I performed Hanukkah themed poetry at Voices of the Season at the McCune and read “Hanukkiah Lighting” at Hanukkah & Hilarity hosted by Jews of Vallejo and their Fabulous Friends at Decades Nightclub.
On January 19, 2019 I had the honor of giving the invocation at the 2019 Women Building Vallejo summit, and I participated in the march, and gave a statement to the Times-Herald regarding the national Women’s March controversy. My invocation “A Blessing for the Women who Pray with their Feet” was created as a call and response prayer so as to energize the assembly.
On February 7th, 2019 my interview with Richard Freedman of the Vallejo Times-Herald was published. I had the honor of being a featured act at Gears Turning in San Francisco at Adobe Books on February 10 and Last Sunday’s Fishbowl Poetry in Monterey at Old Capitol Books on February 24. At the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum I also judged Solano County Poetry Out Loud for the third consecutive year, and was invited to recite “Poetic Timing” from memory. In 2019 I also served as a judge for the Solano County Fair Talent Competition, the Joel Fallon Scholarship, the Vallejo Poetry Slam, and the Solano County Library Teen Writing Contest.
On March 6, 2019 I read 30 minutes of poetry inspired by Jewish life and gave a Q&A at Congregation Beth Sholom in Napa, California. This set grew into Paradise Collectors, a book of Jewish poetry released in September 2019.
On March 13, 2019 we launched our anthology Verses, Voices, and Visions of Vallejo to a record breaking crowd at the JFK Library, selling out of copies. The anthology was accepted into Solano County’s JFK Library and the Benicia Library, and copies were made available for sale at Bookshop Benicia and Alibi Bookshop. After the attack on the New Zealand mosques, I wrote “49 Lights” and it was published in the Vallejo Times-Herald alongside a statement by Jews of Vallejo and their Fabulous Friends that I helped to craft.
For the second consecutive year I organized, hosted, and performed at the JFK Library’s Poetry Month celebration on April 6, 2019. I also performed at the 2019 Joel Fallon Poetry Scholarship fundraiser “Why Poetry?” on April 24 and Vallejo Peace Project’s Speak Up For Peace on April 25. I performed “The Snarkadelic Wordsmith Awaits the Penguin Whisperer” from Abundant Sparks live on KPFA radio in celebration of National Poetry Month on the BAJABA Jazzline Show on April 20, 2019. With my regular commitments, I had a personal record of 10 performances in April 2019, with 4 of them taking place in 24 hours between April 24 and 25. I also hung out at Bookshop Benicia for Independent Bookstore Day on April 27.
On May 15, 2019 I visited Gratton Elementary School in San Francisco, performing and doing Q&A with elementary school kids. I crafted a poem using vocabulary supplied by the students. They gifted me a bottle of poetry, filled with slips of paper of even more vocabulary, so I wrote them a second poem, which Tom Stanton read on OZCAT radio.
During the summer of 2019 I entered four bay area county fairs: Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, Solano. I had a total of 18 entries. I performed at Solano County Fair and helped connect other poets with the opportunity to do the same. I also performed at the Alameda County Fair. I spoke on a panel at the San Mateo County Fair about the future of poetry, and assisted with open mic sign ups. Among the ribbons I received were Best in Class for Moonscapes Haiku at the Marin County Fair and 1st Place in Explore California State Parks at the Alameda County Fair. Since 2015 I have won 36 ribbons at area fairs.
On June 24 I teamed up with Benicia Poet Laureate Emerita Johanna Ely and we performed at Bay Area Generations #70 at Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland. I joined Aqueila M. Lewis-Ross at the Alameda Art Fair on July 7, 2019. I performed for the Marin Poetry Center’s Travelling Show at the Marin Civic Center Library on July 25. I was also a featured act at Poetry Express on July 1st, and Live Poets Society in Orinda, California at Orinda Books on August 25, 2019. I also attended the Gathering of Bay Area Poets Laureate in Millbrae on September 21st, 2019. I did a set of autobiographical poetry as a mystery feature for the Benicia First Tuesday Poets in November, changing hats with each poem to reflect a different stage of my life.
In 2019 I wrote an ekphrastic poem “Labor Makes the World Go Round” inspired by a painting by Angela Simms for September 13 Ode to Labor event at Georgia Galleria, which was performed by Tom Stanton and Fred Dodsworth. During the June 23rd McCune Symposium at the JFK Library Noah Dove created ekphrastic art to my poem “The Spaces that Whisper Home.”
In the fall of 2019 as my term was extended during the search for a successor, I joined the Poets Laureate on Social Justice tour organized by Ron Riekki, reading poetry and doing a Q&A at Revolution Books in Berkeley, Benicia Library, Pegasus Books in Berkeley, Bird & Beckett Books in San Francisco, Book Passage in Corte Madera, and Vallejo’s JFK Library. Press coverage for this tour included an interview and article by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen for the Napa paper. My book Midnight Strike was positively reviewed by Kirkus with the review printed in their November 15, 2019 issue.
Between July 28, 2017 and December 9, 2019 I traveled over 3,000 miles in California to do 141 performances, bringing my lifetime total to 240. You can read a full list at my gig archive just in case I neglected to mention something. I am grateful to my husband, Tim, for carrying my books and driving me around. I am grateful for all the opportunities, compliments, awards, and connections that have grown within the past two years.
Please join us at the JFK Library Joseph Room on January 12, 2020 at 2 PM at 505 Santa Clara St. A group of friends and fellow poets are throwing a party in honor of my service.
A huge congratulations to Vallejo’s 3rd Poet Laureate Jeremy Snyder! I have known him for 5 years through his work with Poetry by the Bay, and I know he will do a fabulous job as a poet laureate for the city of Vallejo, continuing to build upon the foundations built by Genea Brice and myself.
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