A hot, gusty breeze passes by our footsteps, bringing with it needles falling from the giant redwood overhead. We walk through the heart of Library Park, looking for a picnic table safely away from other visitors, two of Juicy’s spectacular pizzas in each hand. The gusty afternoon breeze hasn’t settled down into balmy summer evening just yet; another flurry of wind blows open our pizza box. But slight pink hues in the sky creep over the lake, hinting at a beautiful sunset to come.
I flip the pizza box shut, trying to turn it a direction where the wind won’t blow it open again. “Congratulations on your first six months as Poet Laureate,” David says, then takes a large bite of pizza. Georgina smiles, pulling back her hair from her face as another breeze brushes by us.
Empty street in town
Green trees lining the lonely
The known world moves on
“What a crazy time this is,” I say, smiling across the picnic table. “Whooda thought?” We all laugh in agreement. “How has it been for you so far?” I ask.
Georgina pauses for a moment, her eyes looking upwards and focusing in the distance. “It’s definitely a challenge,” she says. “But it’s meant to be. It’s not what I imagined, but I think in a way I was meant to be here for this time.”
For Georgina, her time as Poet Laureate hasn’t been about live poetry readings and travel. Instead, it’s a time of Zoom and social media. “Yeah,” Georgina ruminates. “I miss the synergy that poets have with each other when we read or do workshops. It was almost vibrational being in the room. I had no idea how important that was until it was gone,” she continues, then quickly puts a napkin under the box so it won’t blow away.
“I can imagine,” I affirm. “But you have adjusted beautifully. Especially at a time that I think we need poetry and creative ways to express ourselves. No one would know anything was missing.”
Georgina smiles again. “I’m technologically savvy, so it hasn’t been hard for me. I’m grateful that I was able to be Laureate when this happened.”
Green plants in glass bowl alive
All to nourish me
David puts down his pizza, swallows, and asks another question. “So, tell me about your ceremony coming up.”
The wind, still hot as evening settles in, slowly eases to a gentle breeze pushing through the park. Georgina, always thoughtful, begins to describe the ceremony. “I didn’t want it to be just about me. I wanted it to be a ceremony for everyone. So, I invited Poet Laureates from other places who weren’t able to have their own ceremony because of COVID, and I also invited previous Lake County Laureates, like Casey Carney and Richard Schmidt.” She stops for a second to think. “I remember how heartbroken I was when I didn’t get the Laureate position two years ago,” she adds, “so I invited all the other Laureate applicants for 2020 to come and read as well. It’s meant to be a celebration of poetry, not just me.”
It has been days now
Smoke and blood orange in my mouth
And it came from his
The evening sun finally begins to rest, shimmering off the lake and lighting the western slopes of Mt. Konocti. Three plates of pizza sit on the table, and the two pizzas sit half-eaten. The conversation’s winding down, but one question remains. David leans forward and asks, “What do you see for poetry in Lake County during your term as Laureate?”
Georgina’s dark eyes brighten in anticipation as she responds, “I want a visual representation of poetry all over the county,” she says. “Just like we have the murals on the walls and the quilt trail. In Kelseyville, they are putting a box for poetry on Main Street. It’s a great idea.” She thinks for another second, her eyes again looking into the distance. “And once it’s safe to do so, I also want to support the local economy by having meetings and readings in various towns and communities all over the county, not just in Lakeport and Middletown. I want poetry to be represented throughout the county.” She laughs. “I want poetry to be more accessible to everyone. Poetry is diverse. There is so much you can do with it. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare.”
The Lake County Poet Laureate 2020-2022 Inaguration ceremony is August 28th at 6 PM on Zoom.
Meeting ID: 290 554 3408