My birthday week has opened with some travel. Because there are so few genuine bookstores and poetry venues behind the Orange Curtain, we decided to accept the invitation by a poet friend, Nicelle Davis, author of the chapbook, Circe and editor at Connotation Press, to share her reading up in Ventura, at Bank of Book.
Ventura is over 100 miles from us, so this would require an overnight stay, but since we hadn't done any travel up the coast in some time, we were up for that. So we booked a stay at a motel with a free breakfast bar and apparently immaculate rooms that was still within our rather meager price range and traveled up the twisted freeway ramps of LA and beyond to Ventura.
Luckily, it has cooled down quite a lot from last week's 95 plus weather, so the beach wasn't mobbed. We scored parking in a central place and walked to the bookstore, which turned out to carry mostly used books with a few local writers' books of poetry and fiction.
Unfortunately, the bookstore hadn't publicized the event, so there was no one there except us, Nicelle, her 4 year old son J.J., and 6 of Nicelle's friends, two of whom were the children of her friends. There was really no place to put more people anyhow... just two rather worn sofas and a few folding chairs. Nicelle had made some chocolate covered cherries, but otherwise, there were no refreshments.
Nicelle is quite a performer. She sews costumes and brings props to her readings, and this one was no different. Because of the large percentage of children in the audience, she didn't read her own poems, but rather performed Lear's "Owl and the Pussycat," and invited the children to take parts in the performance, which was charming and sweet, particularly one little boy who played the ocean, waving a blue streamer along the floor.
But she had to spend most of the time pursuing her son during this event, and didn't get to listen to us read our poems.
Nicelle lives in the desert, in Antelope Valley, and it turns out that she is friends with some old friends of mine who also live and work out there at the community college. It was a pleasure to see them again and to hear one of them read his wonderful poems. Since I last saw him, he has been up to all sorts of adventures and has written 9 books!
Despite the small turnout, we had a wonderful time, and I sold a couple of books too. The bookstore also took some on consignment and invited me to contact the new store in Malibu to do a reading and signing there. Because that is considerably closer than Ventura, I think there will be more of an audience there, so I will call, as the bookstore manager suggested, in a month or so and sort things out.
This morning, after a fitful night's sleep, we ate our free breakfast and drove down to the Getty Museum in LA, where we had a wonderful visit. The ride up the hill to the museum on the tram was spectacular, with all of LA below us like a model train village, with its constant flow of traffic inching up and down the roads and nary a person in sight.
We took a spectacular tour of the museum's highlights, then walked down to the sculpture garden, carefully crafted to offer not only harmony of color and texture, but also olfactory stimulation. The flowers and foliage seemed spectacularly bright, though I think it was mostly the judicious combination of plants and contrast of colors that created this effect. I particularly liked the graceful vase-like metal vessels that trained bougainvillea plants to grow like trees. I will look for a picture to post here.
Then we returned home, where I found tons of emails waiting for me.