Susan G. Woolridge
Cheryl Klein Presents Writers and Poets of Poets & Writers
“I would never have entertained the idea of arranging this
reading if I could not count on the support of Poets & Writers.
Community support waxes and wanes. Poets & Writers supplies the star
by which ships (and [poetry] venues) are guided through otherwise
unpredictable waters.” — Kern County Library’s Lee McCarthy
after a reading in Bakersfield by Peter Everwine and Judith Vollmer
P&W California staff members Jamie FitzGerald
and Cheryl Klein
Founded in 1970, Poets & Writers, Inc., (P&W) believes in
contemporary literature’s indispensable value to our national
culture. Its mission is to foster the professional development of
poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the U.S.
literary community, and to help create an environment in which
literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.
In addition to publishing Poets & Writers Magazine, a
bimonthly publication featuring author profiles and practical advice
for writers, P&W supports literary events in California, New York
State, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Seattle through its
Readings/Workshops grant program. The Readings/Workshops program
provides small matching grants for writers who present their work or
teach creative writing workshops at community venues. In the past,
the Readings/Workshops program has sponsored events at libraries,
bookstores, cafes, interdisciplinary arts centers, community
centers, prisons, churches, and universities. More information about
the Readings/Workshops program is available at the
P&W Web site.
Since 1989, P&W has been conducting programming in California,
where we are the only statewide literary service organization.
Currently our office is in Los Angeles. Supporting literary events
in most of California’s 58 counties, we reach out to rural areas
through TumbleWords, a rural residency program, and Carried Voices,
a touring partnership with the Mountain Writers Series in Oregon and
the YMCA Writer’s Voice in Montana. We also sponsor the California
Voices contest, which awards one poet and one fiction writer from
California with a trip to New York to meet with editors, agents, and
other members of the literary community. We update California
writers on arts news and opportunities with our monthly
e-newsletter, "Focus on California". (To
sign up to receive the newsletter, e-mail
Jamie FitzGerald at P&W.)
We also convene regional literary roundtable meetings in cities
including Los Angeles, Nevada City, Riverside, Sacramento, San
Diego, and San Francisco. These meetings provide a forum for those
involved in various aspects of literature—from presenting to
publishing—to share resources and discuss issues pertinent to their
Most of the literary presenters we work with are writers, as are
almost all of P&W’s staff members. P&W recognizes that literature is
dependent on and linked with a larger community of people who are
invested in writing, a connection we hope will continue to thrive.
In this spirit, we present work by P&W’s three California employees:
Cheryl Klein, Program Manager and fiction writer;
Program Assistant and poet; and Ryan Tranquilla, former Director of
California Programs and current consultant to P&W, also a poet.
We’ve also included poems by two writers who have participated in
many Readings/Workshops events over the years,
Larry Maurice and
Susan G. Wooldridge.
Cheryl’s short excerpt is from “Amor Sin Leche,” a story that
will appear in The Commuters: A Novel of Intersections
(forthcoming from City Works Press in Spring 2006). It was inspired
by her experience living in a Hancock Park-adjacent neighborhood and
working as a camp counselor for kids in the foster care system.
Jamie says of her poem “The Turtle”, “This poem is the result of
my taking instruction from the turtles who held class in and near
the pond on the San Diego State University campus.” Of “Dégagé
[Disengaged]”, she says, “In classical ballet, a dégagé is a
relatively small movement, yet infinitely complex and requiring
concentrated effort. I wanted to capture the kind of intellectual
activity that goes along with physical activity. Dancers have always
had to fight the stigma that they use their bodies and not their
brains. There’s also the stigma of the dancer just being the tool of
the choreographer—the choreographer being the true creative force.
But every movement the dancer does, no matter how small—as in a
dégagé—is an act of creation all its own. The dégagé
seemed like the perfect movement to focus on because mid-way through
the movement, the foot leaves the floor. From there, anything can
happen. And that is what creation is all about. Lift off.”
Ryan, whose poems “Caught” and “Crossing the Lethe” are included
here, began writing poetry seriously after moving to L.A. in the
spring of 2002. While rarely a confessional poet, most of his work
reflects the flora and fauna he encounters daily in the city’s West
Larry Maurice’s poem “I Wish I Could Have Seen It” was
commissioned by the NEA for the City of Santa Clarita’s Cowboy
Poetry and Music Festival. The piece recalls images and events that
will be familiar to many Californians.
Susan G. Wooldridge describes the inspiration for two of her
poems: “‘Everything Breaks’ was written in a small writing group I
met with weekly for awhile in Chico’s Upper Crust Café. My long-term
marriage was coming apart at the time and this poem helped me
express the sadness and futility I was feeling. I wrote ‘An
Interview with the Baal Shem Tov’ when poet Dorianne Laux gave a
workshop at a California Poets in the Schools statewide conference.
She asked us to choose any person from the past or present and
create an interview. The poem could only include responses, no
questions. I’ve always been intrigued with the joyful, mystical
Jewish Baal Shem Tov, and I loved imagining this interview.”