Michael Meyerhofer: “This ended up not making it into the poem but lately, I’ve been watching this series on YouTube that goes over every eon of our planet’s history, highlighting which species survived various climate disasters and which ones didn’t—as well as (in some cases) which species appears to have caused the very event that led to their own extinction, and how that same event might be viewed as a fortuitous by whatever species took their place. The older I get, the more it feels like every idea needs to be intertwined with its opposite. We’re right to place all this importance on our own survival—not to mention our artwork—but for me, some of that urgency also comes from the admittedly trite realization that all of this will be over soon enough, so we’d better cherish it while we can.” (web)
Michael Meyerhofer: “I have no idea how to describe what it’s like to see your own step-brother lying dead on TV—the same shy, good-natured guy I first met a few years ago on a family trip to Las Vegas (he was excited because he’d never been on a plane before), and who was looking forward to getting his life back together after making some mistakes when he was younger. But this poem mostly ended up being about my step-mom, who actually went back to work the day after it happened—partially because she couldn’t bear the silence and grief at home (this is also only a few months after my biological brother lost his battle against leukemia), and partly because this is America, and like it or not, there are always bills to pay.” (web)
Michael Meyerhofer: “This ended up not making it into the poem but when I read about this, I immediately flashed back to another story from nearly twenty years ago about Kumunyak (‘Blessed One’), a Kenyan lioness praised in newspapers for adopting and safeguarding baby antelope. Specifically, I remember the consternation the article’s author felt when one particular baby antelope died (presumably of natural causes) and the lioness who had previously been protecting it immediately changed gears and ate it (hunger is hunger, after all). If horror and beauty are the two seemingly opposite threads from which nature is woven, those threads crisscross constantly. Maybe that’s true of society, too.” (web)
Michael Meyerhofer: “Like countless other Americans, I was struggling to wrap my mind around everything associated with George Floyd’s death and the Derek Chauvin trial—all the outrage, the sadness, the history, the nuance—when totally out of nowhere, I had one of those weird moments where you encounter a completely unrelated story and they kind of blend together, clarifying each other in a way that’s almost impossible to put into words except through poetry. Once I felt that connection, the trick was trying to shove my own ego off its soapbox and just let the poem do what it wanted, since this seems like one of those moments where it’s more important to be a camera than a commentator.” (web)
Michael Meyerhofer: “When I read about Ahmaud Arbery, murdered for supposedly looking in the window of a house still under construction, I immediately flashed back to a time when I’d done something similar (though actually a lot more obtrusive) without suffering any consequences whatsoever. There were four of us that day: my girlfriend and me, plus her parents. However, because all of us were white, and her parents also happened to be wealthy (as evidenced by their clean new car and formal attire), no one in the neighborhood batted an eyelash. To be honest, I might never even have given that incident a second thought if I hadn’t read about the circumstances behind Arbery’s murder. Given my own impoverished childhood, I admit that I sometimes chafe at the notion that I’ve benefited from white privilege. That’s the biggest hallmark of white privilege, though: those who benefit from it rarely even know it’s there, until something happens that makes the double standard impossible to deny.” (web)
Michael Meyerhofer: “This poem came about after interrupting a long day of watching political analysis videos by reading about an extremely rare animal photographed in the wild for the first time, and those events seeming strangely related in a way I couldn’t logically articulate.” (web)
When we moved our reading series online, we promised we would still have local events from time to time, and our first poetry day since the start of the pandemic is the next installment. We’ll feature a reading in Wrightwood by two of our favorite poets, and each of them will be holding a writing workshop beforehand.
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.| Writing Workshops with Kathleen McClung & Michael Meyerhofer
1 p.m. – 2 p.m. | Lunch Break No food is provided; bring your own lunch or walk to one of the local restaurants!
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. | Poetry Reading & Open Mic Featuring Kathleen McClung & Michael Meyerhofer, open mic sign-up at the door. (free & open to the public)
Note: Workshops will be held at the Wrightwood Arts Center and the Wrightwood Community Building, and the reading will be at the Wrightwood Community Building. The arts center is on a second floor, and there is no elevator. Please let us know if you have special needs when you register, and we will adjust the workshops accordingly. We will also be following county health guidelines regarding Covid-19, which means masks and social distancing may be required. An email with more information will be sent a few days before the event.
Wrightwood Arts Center
6020 Park Drive #5
Wrightwood, CA (map)
Wrightwood Community Building
1275 Hwy 2
Wrightwood, CA (map)
Winner of the 2020 Rattle Chapbook Prize for A Juror Must Fold in on Herself, Kathleen McClung is also the author of Temporary Kin, The Typists Play Monopoly, and Almost the Rowboat. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is the winner of the Rita Dove, Morton Marr, Shirley McClure, and Maria W. Faust national poetry prizes. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies, including Fire & Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, Atlanta Review, Connecticut River Review, Southwest Review, and others. Kathleen lives in San Francisco and teaches at The Writing Salon and Skyline College, where she served for ten years as director of the annual Women on Writing conference. She is associate director and sonnet judge for the Soul-Making Keats literary competition. In 2018-19 she was a writer-in-residence at Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. For more information, (visit her website).
Workshop: “Looking Around, Looking Within: Witness as Meditation in Poetry”
Poets have always closely observed both our outer and inner worlds. As we emerge this year from long lockdowns, we may now see with an even more penetrating vision. In this small, intimate workshop we’ll read, discuss and write short narrative poems that balance mystery and clarity, the startling and the soothing. We’ll focus on artfully combining imagery, language and musing to generate free and formal verse. New and seasoned poets welcome!
Michael Meyerhofer is a poet and fantasy author who believes those two genres genuinely can get along. His fifth poetry book, Ragged Eden, was published by Glass Lyre Press. His fourth, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was published by Split Lip Press. In addition to his poetry books, he has published two fantasy trilogies. His debut fantasy novel, Wytchfire (Book I in the Dragonkin Trilogy), was published by Red Adept Publishing, and went on to win the Whirling Prize and a Readers Choice nomination from Big Al’s Books and Pals. Michael has won the Marjorie J. Wilson Best Poem Contest, the Laureate Prize for Poetry, the James Wright Poetry Award, and the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry. He received his BA from the University of Iowa and his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. An avid weightlifter, medieval weapons collector, and unabashed history nerd, he currently lives, teaches, and inhabits various coffee shops around Fresno, CA. For more information, (visit his website).
Workshop: “Pulling Up the Floorboards: Two Radical Approaches to Revising Poems”
Every cathedral, every temple, every watchtower begins by placing the first brick. But what happens if you’re halfway through construction and realize your project is coming out a bit crooked? Do you tear it all down and start over? Luckily, in writing, even the most radical reconstruction can be done a lot more easily than you think (and with significantly less cuts and bruises). In this class, poet and editor Michael Meyerhofer discusses two radical revision techniques that can be used either to repair a poem that isn’t quite working, or else completely revamp it into an entirely new piece. These techniques can also be helpful for pieces you enjoy because they’ll help you notice and become more mindful of your own aesthetic (or even help you establish an aesthetic, if you haven’t yet).
Register for Either Morning Workshop through the Wrightwood Arts Center:
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