Saturday Shorts: Notice the positives – and write about them

September 13, 2013 

  • Sample quatrain

    In autumn, the gingko trees put on their best dresses

    of bright yellow for a brief few weeks,

    their leaves flutter and fall to the ground,

    pile up next to gutters like golden snow

    – Nancy Haskett

    Provided by Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center poets

Ah yes, Modesto and its bad reputation. We all know about it and the reasons for it, some justified and some not. Some of us seem to get a perverse pleasure out of it, as if we don’t want to improve.

Here, on the eve of one of the most beautiful seasons, the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center has issued an invitation and a challenge: Write a four-line poem about something positive or beautiful or otherwise appreciated in our area. The goal is to have all sorts of varied submissions, which then will be organized into one large community poem that celebrates our county.

Poetry has a substantial following here in Stanislaus, which in itself is a rebuttal of our image. The young Poetry Center has established as its mission: promoting poetry throughout Stanislaus County and Stanislaus County through poetry.

Modesto’s poet laureate Gillian Wegener alerted us to this project, the first big effort of the relatively new center. As she explained in her announcement, “Stanislaus County has received a lot of negative media attention in the past few years, and it is time to celebrate a place that has continued to grow and thrive despite all the negativity. This poem will show the residents of this county that they live in a place that is beautiful in many different ways and in many different perspectives, and it will hopefully begin to develop a more positive image of our county for those who think otherwise.”

Center poets have provided some samples of four-line poems, also known as quatrains. We offer one of them below. .

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 15. Guidelines are available by emailing the center at info@mostpoetry.org. The center plans to have the full community poem published by April.

Help MJC celebrate No. 92

Modesto Junior College has not been around forever, but it has been around longer than most of the 112 community colleges in California. The state first authorized community colleges in 1909; MJC was created in 1921. On Thursday, the Associated Students will host a birthday party for the MJC mascot, Petey Pirate, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the East Campus Quad. As well as hot dogs and birthday cake, there will be a “talk like a pirate contest.” Thursday also happens to be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It’s just coincidence, we know, that it corresponds with the date that MJC held its first classes. The event is free, but campus parking is $1.

Observe Constitution Day on Tuesday

Tuesday is U.S. Constitution Day, an official holiday since 2004. It obviously gets relatively little attention, even as much as we take pride in our Constitution. The Modesto Junior College Civic Engagement Project again deserves applause for sponsoring what we think is the only local Constitution Day observance. Stephen R. Routh, who chairs the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at California State University, Stanislaus, will speak on “The Congress, the President, and the Power to Make War” at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Forum 102 on the MJC East Campus. Like the birthday party, it is free, but parking is $1.

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