It was a veritable poetry lovefest they had on the San Juan Ridge earlier this month featuring readings by legendary poets Gary Snyder and Will Staple.
And there’s good reason for a lovefest, since it is National Poetry Month, and the event was a benefit for not only Nevada County Arts’ second annual Sierra Poetry Festival but for the grassroots San Juan Ridge Community Library as well.
Not only that, but KVMR-FM will broadcast an exclusive recording of the reading this Sunday (April 22) at 7 p.m. with KVMR broadcaster (and Ridge Library head) Roo Cantada and NC Arts’ Eliza Tudor hosting the radio special.
It’s one of four — count ’em, four — special broadcasts this month in honor of the Month and the Festival.
“My whole life has been focused on the Word,” Cantada said at the reading. “As a young hippie, I found the Ridge full of very wise elders.”
And she praised Snyder for his “big support” of a community park, the library and the poetry world over the years she’s lived here.
Meanwhile, fellow poet and reading co-host Chris Olander had kind words when he introduced Staple, who read from a collection of his work from 1970 to 1995.
‘COYOTE IN DISGUISE’
“He’s really a coyote in disguise,” according to Olander. “I laugh with him, I laugh at him, and at the same time I laugh at myself. How fragile and tough we are as human beings living in this place.”
Snyder, who met Staple in a 1964 poetry class Gary was teaching, said the evening was “one of the best of your (Will’s) readings I’ve ever heard.”
“We’ve been friends throughout the years,” added Snyder with a laugh, “and I know where he parks his truck.”
Meanwhile, Olander said a Nevada City friend visiting him in the ’70s in Washington well before Chris moved here first told him of Snyder, “the most earth-centered poet writing” at the time and discovered Snyder was “doing what I wanted to do.”
According to Olander, he’s heard several people say about Snyder: “I don’t understand what he means, but I like how it sounds….The Sound.”
Snyder was busy shuffling papers and books around before his presentation.
REMEMBERING OLD POEMS
“Rather than simply reading the new poems, the reason I have so many books here tonight is I can hardly remember the old poems myself,” he said.
“I have come to realize in recent years that we in western Nevada County and a larger area are very much in touch with each other,” Snyder continued. “We are unique in some way, and it’s not necessarily waiting on the massive power and generosities of big capitalism and big government.”
“We cut the same path at a lower level that is invisible, which is exactly what it needs to be.”
Yup, it was that kind of special night and now being broadcast, indeed, Sunday night at 7 p.m.
Other live KVMR 89.5 FM remotes featuring the Sierra Poetry Festival include:
–Youth Poetry and “Poetry Out Loud” finalists, also Sunday, April 22, at noon from BriarPatch Food Co-op, Grass Valley.
–Media Lounge, with KVMR’s Elisa Parker interviewing special Festival guests and poets, 5 p.m., Friday, April 27 at the Nevada City Winery, downtown Nevada City.
–Sierra Poetry Festival final presentations, 3 p.m., Saturday, April 28, Sierra College, Grass Valley.
KNOW & HEAR
WHO: Poets Gary Snyder and Will Staple
WHAT: Recording of an April 6 Benefit Reading for the Sierra Poetry Festival and the San Juan Ridge Community Library
WHEN: Sunday, April 22, 7 p.m. on KVMR 89.5 FM & kvmr.org streaming