Sandra McPherson came once again to the Sacramento Poetry Center to lend her specific brand of light to the proceedings at 1719 25th Street in Sacramento.
She mentioned that she had dedicated her latest book entitled Expectation Days to three women, two of whom were in the audience: Susan Kelly-DeWitt and Pamela Moore Schneider.
The first poem she read from Expectation Days (“Grouse”) was brought about by “bird parties” that go on in her house while she sleeps.
She went on to read “A Ghazal for my Students” from A Visit to Civilization
McPherson turned to a poem from early in her career, from her first book in the mid-60s when she was 23 and pregnant and working in the defense industry in Seattle. The poem was called “The Names of Things.”
McPherson recalled watching a scene from An Officer and a Gentleman as it was being filmed and remembered how Louis Gossett Jr. asked the crowd to be quiet. The poem “An Officer and Gentleman in a Small Heroic Order” was an homage to that moment and other memories.
She then asked for water and went on to read from her series of Virtue Studies which grew out of her collecting old schoolgirl samplers. The first one she read was called “Virtue Study: The Happy Hour,” and it was dedicated to the many years of reading Chinese and Japanese drinking poems.
The second one was dedicated to the Sacramento Blues Society. It was entitled “Virtue Study: Blues society” In it the main figure is a person in a wheelchair who is attempting to dance.
What followed next were bereavement poems. The first one was “Bereavement: Leaving the Radio On all Night for Comapny“ which led her to mention the memorial benefit that the SPC put on for her late husband Walter Pavlich in 2002. The next one was “Bereavement: 1919” in which she alludes to “asafoetida,” a substance that was given for its calming effect, but McPherson noted that on Wikipedia a reference was made to its capacity for attracting catfish.
The next piece was called “The Fox” in memory of Walter Pavlich, and it was written 19 years before his passing.
McPherson ended with a piece that she said will “make nobody weep.” It was a collection of haiku inspired by her friend Chef who drove her to the reading.
“Disgusting, the chef who has only 7 cookbooks. I could roll around naked in 600.”