August 15, 2013

Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center lanches Sunday poetry series

Poetry fans have another venue to hear their favorite art. The newly formed Modesto-Stanislaus (MoSt) Poetry Center will give quarterly readings at Turlock’s Carnegie Arts Center beginning Aug. 25.

The first session of the new Poetry on Sunday series will feature 15-minute readings from Modesto poets Lynn Hansen and Tom Myers, and Turlock-area poets Ann W. Bailey and Gary Thomas. Afterward, audience members will be invited to recite their poems at an open mike. The event is expected to last an hour.

All the poets were featured in the anthology “More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets.”

“The poets who are reading are going to be fantastic,” said Gillian Weggener, president of the MoSt Center.

Hansen is a retired biology instructor from Modesto Junior College and recently issued her first book of poems, “Flicker,” published by MJC’s Quercus Review Press.

“It’s my 70th birthday present to myself,” she said. “I’ve been writing poems for about 20 years. Most recently, I’ve been writing a lot and I wanted to put it together in a book. It’s a memoir.”

The poems deal with different times from her life – some address her childhood, others her experiences as a young mother and what it was like to be the first female science professor at MJC. Other poems focus on her travels, her friends and reflections as she nears the end of her life.

Flicker is the name of a bird she sees only in the fall in her yard when her persimmon trees are ripe. Every time she hears it, she knows it’s fall. She said the title is also a metaphor for her being in the fall of her life.

“The common remark I’ve had from people who have purchased the book is that the poems are very accessible and really engage people,” Hansen said. “They’re not difficult to see what I’m saying.”

Myers is a retired elementary school teacher who enjoys hiking and birding. He has one chapbook – “The Lost Language of Birds.” Bailey is a retired high school art teacher. Thomas grew up on a peach farm outside Empire and taught eighth-grade language arts and junior college English. He also has acted in productions by Prospect Theater Project.

The MoSt Poetry Center’s goal is to promote Stanislaus County through poetry and promote poetry through Stanislaus County. The poetry center has no permanent home. The poets are involved in many activities already, including monthly readings at the Barkin’ Dog Restaurant downtown and readings at senior centers and elementary schools.

“There are lots of poets in this area, and they are very supportive of the arts,” Hansen said.

The next MoSt Poetry Center readings at the Carnegie Arts Center are scheduled Nov. 24, Feb. 23 and May 25. While all the poets have been scheduled this year, those who are interested in reading their works next year should contact Hansen at hansenl@mjc.edu.

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