Monday, August 15, 2011

The Watermelon Festival and the Rapp Saloon

When I last went to the Rapp Saloon, I thought that visit would be that, "last." I did not find the majority of the poetry I heard there, with an overabundance of one letter, "f," to be of much interest. I decided to skip driving that far for so little. However, I made a friend there, Elena Secota, who turned out to be a fascinating poet in her own right. She now hosts one of the weekly Friday Open Readings and books her own monthly features. I am very glad that thanks to her invitation, I will be able to re-visit the Rapp Saloon and see the changes that her high-class act has brought to this establishment. My appearance is planned for Friday, August 19, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. To honor the vibe of the place, I'll read a darker, more edgy fare than at the recent Moonday feature, where it was all about awakenings...

1436, 2nd STREET, (between Broadway & Santa Monica Blvd)
Santa Monica, California 90401



The Magnificent Four, or the Village Poets of Sunland Tujunga: Joe DeCenzo, Marlene Hitt, Dorothy Skiles and yours truly, created and managed a new element at the 50th Annual Watermelon Festival, held at Sunland Park on Saturday, August 13, 2011, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Poetry Corner presented new, original poetry for children along with well-known classics by Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, and Rudyard Kipling (The Tale of Elephant Child). We recited English and Polish tongue-twisters and sang humorous rhyming children's songs. The model of a home-setting with children's chairs on a giant comforter, scattered with zebra pillows and stuffed animals, was created at a poetry event for the Puppetry Festival at McGroarty Art Center last year.

Each of the four poets contributed something: Joe brought the baloons and comforter, Dorothy donated the gifts, Marlene lent us a mike, and I had signs, books, and more comforters and stuffed animals that I cared to carry from my car... Our fifth member, Barry Ira Geller, did not make it, though contributed to advance publicity of the event.

Children came with their parents to rest for 10 - 15 minutes from the hectic pace and excitement of the festival. They sat quietly, listened, read poems from the books provided by poets, and picked up their prizes - colorful balloons and little toys. We planned on two hours, but filled out three - due to the constant ebb and flow of the audience it was hard to find a good time to pack up and go. We are happy that Beverly Collins once again brought her poetry to share in Sunland.

I do not write for children and certainly do not write in rhyme, so I was especially pleased that Joe DeCenzo read from his Ballad of a Hawk and twice recited a very amusing, brand-new poem-game, helping children to learn the names of body parts in English. In his poem, the last word of each couplet is missing and children have to guess what it is..."head" or "chin" or "shin." I noticed quite a few children who were English learners and this was a very good lesson for them.

We also had a couple of older children reading from our stack of books - picking poems they found funny. My contribution included poems "What I love in Sunland" and "On the Beach" for Father's Day, as well as two New Year's Haiku about the Year of the Rabbit. I also sang about The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly and recited tongue-twisters about the winsome woodchuck and the warbling warbler, and, my favorite, a Polish beetle rustling in the rushes:

W Szczebrzeszynie chrzaszcz brzmi w trzcinie
a w Trzemiesznie straszy jeszcze postrach oczu strzyg!

Next year? More poets, and some limericks, I think... the G-rated ones, of course.



The Poetry Picnic of August 6, 2011, went very well according to Benicia's Poet Laureate, photographer and organizer extraordinaire, Ronna Leon. She created lots of wonderful poetry posters and other materials to distribute at the event and through the Poem Homes installations in the community.

My poem dedicated to Henry Fukuhara and inspired by a digital artwork by Beth Shibata, "Sundance" was printed in color as a broadside and I'm very happy to see this attractive poster at my home.


NOTE: All photos from the Poetry Corner at the Watermelon Festival in Sunland, held on Saturday, August 13, 2011.

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