Midway through Theresa Whitehill’s reading, the first set of the group of 3 Mendocino poets, the rain began to applaud. The three Mendocino poets brought the rain with them, but nobody was admitting to this.
Still many gathered around the table set up by Rebecca Morrison offering hot cider, coffee and tea. For the hard core, they could take their sugar straight from the packet.
Whitehill read a number of poems that reflected her life and the sense of place she has developed in Mendocino.
One group of poems was created in collaboration with a chef in Petaluma. the poem was to be read between courses of food prepared by this chef, an interesting intersection of the literary and culinary arts.
One of these pieces, Estranha Forma de Vida featured a dedication to Amália Rodrigues, the great Portuguese fado singer.
Her final piece was “Eating you” At first she invoked bread . It became toast—a little dab on your lips.Then she says I have to figure out what I will do with your ears , if I will hang around in your brain. “Your eyes are photos of an African childhood.” The speaker then was to make a meal of the organ that loves me. Going the speaker says, “I leisurely eat a Spanish tomato left in your breast pocket . . . Marry me. I’m sorry. I want to eat you.”
Devreaux Baker read “Bloodlines” from California Sutras. She also read some poems about her relatives from Mexico, how in Oaxaca right now there are hard times. She told a story of her daughter, coming back from a visit had brought with her a little bag of red seeds as a talisman. This little bag of red seeds was the germ for the poem “Red Seeds”
Devreaux also told a story of how she wrote a poem for friend who was a painter and upon receiving the poem, the friend made a painting that corresponded to the poem called “Dogs of Mexico.” Broadsides were made of the collaboration.
What was it about the dust that carved its way into my heart . . . The dogs of Mexico, this endless roaming pack that stampedes my heart.
Linda Noel. [ pronounced like Knoll] is the former poet laureate of the city of Ukiah. She is a Maidu poet from the band of Kiyungkowi [KonKow] Maidu. Kiyungkowi means “people from the meadow,” she pointed out. She read “Potter Valley Poem.”
“What kind of War” posited a litany of actors and agents in war, pitted against each other, with the last line establishing “boy against boy.”
Then she read “Moon Worshipper”
Thank you for always being there . . . Cleanse me in the pond of your bloated self . . . Moon could never be my lover . . . Such intimacy would undress marrow skin and bone . . . Pocked granite.
In “Red Lace” Noel stated, “Redwood is a heart soaking up heavy rain.” Later she read,”Unlace the red blood of my heart to let you in.”
In “Anniversary,” Noel talks about the day that Elvis died. She got the news on the way to getting wisdom teeth removed, but the extraction was difficult. The dentist only got half the job done in the allotted two hours. But she got a bottle of percodan . . . which was not enough for Elvis.