March 1-2, 2019
Friday morning after we packed up we met Gloria Frym for brunch in Berkeley. Great to see her again! She couldn’t come to our reading at Moe’s the night before because it was her birthday and friends were taking her out. The restaurant she was taking us to, Bette’s Ocean View, no longer had an ocean view as over the years many buildings rose up between it and the sea. But it was certainly popular, too popular, with a half hour wait, so we went around the corner to another cafe for our brunch. We chatted various and then a lot about teaching creative writing in today’s economy. Gloria gave us each a copy of her book, The True Patriot, from Spuyten Duyvil and we gave her copies of our books and our Poets on the Road pamphlet. Then hugs and we were off. There was an email from Pat Nolan and Gail King, our hosts, that roads might be blocked because of the rain and Floods. (MO)
Pat and Gail decided to meet us at a place outside the flooded area. Pat and I have been friends since I first met him years ago when he came to read in NYC at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project. I have a treasured collection of his woodblock prints and hand made books he has sent me over the years. And of his collections of the Renga writings he, Keith Abbott, Michael Sowl and I have collaborated on over the years. The last time I visited Pat and Gail, my mother and I had driven down from my bother’s place near Santa Rosa. We had a magical time, walking by the then peaceful, Russian River and sitting in the sunshine chatting. It was a visit my mother often talks about remembering them both so fondly. My longtime dear friend, Sandy Berrigan, came down from her place in Albion for our reading in Sebastopol and was staying with Nancy Packard, a longtime friend of hers nearby. So Nancy’s became our rendevouz point. Sandy is a poet and writer of Rengas, a Japanese collaborative form, with one in progress starring herself, Pat, Elinor Nauen, and myself. Nancy’s house was full of music and musical instruments. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting her. (MO)
See Pat’s blog at: https://thenewblackbartpoetrysociety.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/new-to-the-societys-shelves/ and email@example.com
Pat and Gail live in a little enclave in Monte Rio, a village alongside the Russian River, a river that recently overflowed, damaging and destroying lots of houses. Twenty years ago their house was devastated by a flood and afterwards they had the house lifted up 8 feet above the ground. This time, their basement was flooded and they only lost some furniture and a carpet. Many of the people in the community were much harder hit. Mud covered the roads and big piles of ruined furniture littered the sides of the roads. We stayed with Gail and Pat for 3 nights. Three days and nights full of talking about poetry and poets. Sandy Berrigan joined us on Saturday. We ate walnuts from the tree outside their window, played a renku poetry game Pat and a friend had invented, ate tamales and lentil soup, looked at Pat’s wood block art and magazines and books he had published over the years. We all gifted each other with copies of our books. It was very comfortable staying with Pat and Gail, almost as if I had known them my whole life. (BH)
Walnut tree out kitchen window (BH)
Gail, Pat, Sandy, Barb Photo by MO
Besides being a prolific writer, editor and publisher, Pat was also a dispatcher for the fire department. Gail is a substitute teacher and a school bus driver. She feeds a tribe of feral cats who camp out under their cars, in baskets on their porch and under the house. When I opened the door to go outside, they scattered. Whoosh! Two somewhat more domestic cats live inside. They have a beautiful walnut tree on their property outside and the houses in their enclave are surrounded by tall redwood pines. Gail told me that they are young trees; I was in awe of these trees towering along the curving two-lane highway. The ground was mucky and the flooding was just receding; otherwise we would have visited some of the much bigger trees. Gail showed me how many of the trees have grown out of old stumps. (BH)
March 3, 2019
Our reading was on Sunday afternoon at the Iota Press Space, North Bay Letterpress Arts in Sebastopol. Pat and Eric Johnson had sent out many announcements and there was a large crowd at the reading. Maureen’s brother, Pat, and his wife Laura were there; Carol Clavonne (editor of Posit, a journal of literature and art) brought some of her friends from Santa Rosa. One woman who had gone to Bard came to the reading with a stack of my books she had collected over the years. There were many artists present; some who work and show at the letter press studio. Maureen and I were both pleased that our last reading on-the-road, was such an upper. (We are reading in Denver, but that’s Maureen’s home town). The crowd was exceptionally warm and welcoming and they asked deep questions about our writing. We are grateful to Pat Nolan and Eric Johnson for all the pre-work they did to make this event a success, especially since we arrived right after the flood. (BH)
Here’s a website for the letter press: https://www.northbayletterpressarts.org
I was delighted that my brother, Pat, and my sister-in-law, Laura, were able to make it to the reading. I rarely get an opportunity to read with them in the audience. It meant a lot to me to have them there. Eric gets a big “hats off” for his fabulous presses and letterpress type on display and running such a terrific place. Many who came to the reading were artists taking letterpress classes and printing beautiful pieces several that were on display. He also created two stunning little broadsides of a poem each by us. (MO)
Pat Owen, Maureen’s brother is holding our books. (MO)
Bill Vartnaw, Gwynn O’Gara, Nancy Packard (BH)
Eric Johnson describing his print shop (BH)
I was very happy to finally spend time with Sandy Berrigan. We had written each other in the past and exchanged books, but I had never met her before. We talked about our shared histories with Pat, all three of us growing up in Detroit. Her uncle had owned Sam’s clothing store downtown and her mother owned a children’s clothing store in the Fisher building at a time when few women worked outside the home. Pat lived in Detroit from the age of 13 to 17; his father was a tool and die worker who relocated them from Pat’s birth place in Montreal to find work. Sandy, Pat and Gail, so good to be with them for these few days—and Nancy, too—I hope our paths cross again (outside of social media and the US post). (BH)
After the reading a group of us trooped over to a nearby restaurant that was a hold over from the days of Foster Freeze soft ice cream. The place had actually been a Foster Freeze stand back in the day. I remember as a kid growing up in Monrovia/Duarte that getting a Foster Freeze was a big treat. Nancy offered to buy me a glass of wine to celebrate our last “on-the-road” reading, but I asked for a cone of Foster Freeze instead. It was just as delicious as I remembered it. (MO)
After the reading a group of us sat around a long wooden table munching on tacos and talking about our lives and projects—Pat and Gail, Jizel Albright, Sandy, Nancy, Barb and Maureen. Then at home, Pat gave us special paper to copy two of our poems in long hand for Bill Hawley, a collector and a wine-maker who traded bottles of wine for our poems. Thanks Bill, we’ll think of you when we’re home in New York and Denver, drinking your special vintage.
Addendum: Blog Post by Pat Nolan about our trip and reading in Sebastapol. Pat Nolan’s Into The Heart Of Wetness | The New Black Bart Poetry Society
Mar 4-5, 2019
We set out driving south, adding an extra day to our trip, but thereby avoiding snowy passes on I80. We planned to drive 400 miles a day for 4 days. As we drove along, the hills were a bright lawn green color. Stunning, sloping hills that almost seemed manicured. So green from the rain with black cattle and sheep grazing. Maureen said she had never seen them so green before. Then on I-5 there was one blooming almond orchard after another and orange orchards, the trees heavy hanging down loaded with fruit. A sign I saw along the road: “Farmers Use Water To Grow Our Food.”
Finally the last 70 miles on Mar 4th, we were on C54 heading to Mojave. It was dark before we got to our motel and the gps told us that we had arrived while we were still on the highway between two dark brown towering mountains with nothing else for miles around. Hum. Maureen called the hotel and they told us which exit to take. Must remember that some addresses should have “Business” in front of their addresses. Business Highway 54.
Then in the hotel room, we started cooking tofu, zucchini, kale and buckwheat noodles. It’s a tight squeeze cooking on a bathroom counter. With my elbow, I knocked the bottle of olive oil and it splattered all over the floor. Dang. How can you make a stir fry without olive oil. Maureen talked the clerk into giving us a handful of butter packs. (BH)
The next morning when we first left our hotel and started driving through the desert toward the mountains, a vast hillside of the wind turbines appeared spinning wildly in the wind. They created a pattern against the mountain, like a network of giant pinwheels. Finally just before arriving in Flagstaff, we stopped and washed our car back window so we could see better. As we got into the mountains by Flagstaff, suddenly our sunny afternoon turned into winter with snow on the mountains. Two more days until Denver and the temperature there today is 24 degrees.