The late spring sun still sits high in the sky when people begin showing up, parking their cars in the walnut orchard, and walking towards Gary and Pam Mae’s barn. Outside, people sip on glasses of wine and chat with old friends. There’s a hint of anticipation in the air. Georgina Marie, Lake County’s current Poet Laureate, makes her way through the crowd, talking with people and sharing in their excitement. Lake County’s about to get something new: A Youth Poet Laureate.
Soon, Gary Maes rings the cowbell, inviting everyone into the barn, where he extends a welcome. “Two of humanity’s greatest achievements are music and storytelling. Tonight we get to enjoy both. And,” he adds as an aside. “We’ve got a rather large gopher snake on the property.” He laughs. “It may come in and join us tonight.”
After an introduction from Pamela Bordisso, Georgina Marie, Lake County’s 11th Poet Laureate, stands. “Does everyone know what a Poet Laureate does?” she asks. A few people nod, while a few others laugh. “A Poet Laureate supports poetry in the community. That’s what I do. And I wanted to extend that to the youth community. I started as a youth poet, and wanted to provide that opportunity in Lake County.
“The purpose of the Youth Poet Laureate is to promote poetry in the youth community of Lake County. They will be hosting readings, workshops, and attending events.” She continues. “Later, we will be hearing from a youth poet, but first I’d like to read you some poems.” She holds up a piece of paper, and reads in a strong clear voice from her poem “An Open Palm”:
I would give up shame bottled ike IPA de la Rosa sealed and sold at a small town brewery memories broken men who tried to make me match their cracks like cement crevices as a child I used to jump over never once thinking they’d actually break my mother’s back wilted marigolds in recycled honey jars when they’re no longer supple and vibrant though I may dry them out in vintage books, never actually letting go of the life of those lively botanicals ghosts shadow smoke I used to witness as a young girl in the family home, forbidden walls that held all the darkest secrets, those skeletons, Muertos en el armario, dead in the closet take it all from my open palm On the other hand, Valley Oaks that revive me each morning their sage and rust hues painting themselves now that autumn has returned they breathe into me, speaking in psalms, reciting verses of wind and repentance Not an oak nor a crabapple feels shame, don’t see my shame if a tree forgives you in the blue of dawn, does anyone hear it? this must stay all of it
She continues, entrancing the audience with her words. The room goes silent as she finishes, then applauds.
Then the band Note Worthy comes to the stage to play. Driven by the vocals of Sarah Miller, and accompanied by Michael Richeson, Bill Bordisso and Tom Aiken, they create a passionately mellow feel, covering diverse songs from artists like The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, and Extreme. The audience sits entranced, compelled by the atmosphere the music creates.
After three songs, Georgina steps back to the front. “I’d like to introduce Ari Fossa, a Junior at Kelseyville High School,” she says as Ari makes her way to the front.
“I’m extremely nervous,” Ari laughs. “I’ve only ever read in front of my creative writing class.” She pauses, holding out her hands to see if they’re shaking. “I’ve got two personal poems I’m going to read. This one I wrote at two am three days ago. I hope you guys enjoy and like it.”
Then her tone changes and she holds her head high. “Temptation, temptation,” she begins, reading clearly until the end of the poem. She then reads her second poem, “Nostalgia.” Everyone cheers, claps, and smiles as she makes her way to her seat.
Then it’s time for a break, music, and appetizers. People stream from the barn, smiles on their face. Now’s the time to refill the wineglasses, talk with friends, and enjoy the selection of cheeses, crackers, and desserts. The day’s cooling down, and the Lake County sky is slowly changing colors. Below the ridgeline, the town of Kelseyville rests, quiet at this distance. There’ll be more poetry and music soon, but now it’s time to laugh, talk, and enjoy the launch of a new Lake County institution.
For more information on the Youth Poet Laureate program, click here.