Showing posts from October, 2021

The Drawing Begins!

The day of my first workshop was the day the rain began. It was either cancel the workshop or rent the Ranger Station, and I decided to go for it. I've been waiting a decade to do this; why let a little deluge stop me? Only one family actually made it, but they really got the project off to a great start. We sang the song, then Gabe, Nico, and their dad Jeff picked up pencils, markers, crayons and paintbrushes and got inspired. The part of the song that spoke to us the most was the last stanza: Well, the rain poured on Joaquin. The water drizzled down all over Oakland... It was amazing to see how each of these twin brothers approached art. One confidently freehanded the stuffed barn owl in the display case. (Hoot hoot!) The other was explorative and expressionistic, his sketches conveying the dizzy feeling of looking at a tall tree, his hands dancing with the energy of raindrops. Their grandfather was an art professor, and I think he would be proud.  The dad made a beautiful sketch

The Meadow: The Faintest Green Sheen

I had hoped to work in the Ranger Station today, a run-through for the first workshop on Sunday, which is forecast (at last!) with plenty of rain. The doors were locked, why? For renovations or deep cleaning or budget cuts? I got to meet the Park Supervisor, Gregory Tarver Ph.D. A large man with a mask and a vest, he apologized and said there were safety issues. Frustrated but understanding—could be the virus, could be dry rot, they both are relentless—I  cautiously headed down to the Meadow with my art bag, where I found one dry picnic table. There weren't as many kids in the park as there were last time I was here. It's been cold and it rained last night. It was supposed to be raining today and the skies were grey, but the clouds were high. I took my chances and cracked opened my enormous sketchbook, the one that will hold our story. I needed to transpose the "shout-out" sections of my songs into something more portable. The old posters were moldy from being in my b

"From Ina to Ayodele" — celebrating our new Poet Laureate

Oakland's selection of a poet laureate seemed a momentous event to the  California Writers Club, since the state's first poet laureate was so influential in bringing our club into existence. I was honored to preside over an event last Saturday in honor of Dr. Ayodele "Wordslanger" Nzinga, in the Fire Circle built by Joaquin Miller's daughter Juanita. This was the day I formally announced my Song Project at the Friends of Joaquin Miller Park annual meeting.  I told my sad tale about losing a Cultural Fund grant as a way to talk about the great poet's complicated life, cleverly weaving in lines from my simple song about trees and possums and poppies and water. To an intimate audience among the fir trees, I talked about who Joaquin Miller really was, and we heard readings by his friends by my friends. Each of whom became my friend after I heard them read their poetry and it struck me deeply. To hear the chimes of their voices ringing in the woods, bringing the g