Friday, May 9, 2014

Peter Bray: "Way Too Busy in April" (a wrap up)

2014-05-02 from the column  "A Cappella Handyman," every Friday by Peter Bray for the Benicia Herald. [] [][]:
April was way too busy. I’m glad it’s over, it was a Creative Hurricane and left us some silver and gold poems! I gave some thought to this column and decided to ramble instead of trying to overly organize it, so much was going on in this Small Waterfront Town, USA. Here’s just some of what I saw, others can tell you even more. For one thing, it was National Poetry Month and we poets did it proud:

First Tuesday Poetry Meeting April 1 -
Always good, 20-30 of us read and/or recite our own or poetry of others. This month we discussed “Repetition” in writing poetry. Great stuff. Led by our current and fourth Poet Laureate, Lois Requist. Join us, every first Tuesday of the month at the Benicia Public Library, 7-9 pm, Dona Benicia Room. Not just Benicians, but members are from all over: Crockett, Fairfield, Vallejo, Briones, wherever. (

First Saturday at JFK Library Vallejo, April 5 -
Seriously, a band of poets arrived at the JFK library in Vallejo and read poetry! And another twenty or thirty of us assembled to listen and share in an Open Mike afterwards. It was cool and a half! Vallejo Poet and resident Genea Brice led the parade with guest poets Vallejoan Jeff Kingman, Poet Laureate Connie Post from Livermore, and Joel Fallon, Benicia’s first Poet Laureate. Many of us thoroughly support the effort of Vallejo having a Poet Laureate Program. A bazillion other California cities have them, so why not Vallejo also? Not since Martha Cinader and her husband Tony ran “The Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe” on Marin Street was there such a hubbub about poetry in Vallejo. AND check out The Hub’s website also, BIG poetry and art doings down at 350 Georgia Street, Vallejo. I have yet to get there but I will. (

Art Day Robert Semple, April 10 -
Those Semple kids are a HOOT! I spoke ART with a third grade class and a mixed 4th and 5th grade class, and we did art! Poems, songs, drew tennis balls, sang “Two Right Shoes,” did Big Letters, and did our best cursive writing! Discussed “What makes a chicken a chicken when you’re drawing it?” and other great art treasures. (Bonnie Weidel is looking down on us with glee! Go, Bonnie!) Matthew Turner Art Day is coming up next on May 22. Get ready, Be there!

On The Radio, April 22 -
I did a graphic collage of photos from “First Saturday at JFK”, and QR Hand, an entertaining Vallejo poet of long, long standing, sent a copy to none other than Dr. G, producer of the Northbay UPrising morning show, broadcasting Tuesdays 6 to 9am, at 89.5FM KZCT (, promoting positive topics, community news, and calendar items. It also regularly features local poets! Was that a Hoot or what? So I got an e-mail from Dr. G. asking me to do a Poetry Interview on Tuesday, April 22, a full 1/2 half hour at 8:30 am! Definitely a Kick in the Pants! Is he knowledgeable and fluid-like in his On-The-Air delivery or what? I was impressed! In the course of a half hour I gave Dr. G. listeners my condensed life history of 44 years in poetry and songwriting. I recited “Handyman Song #12” and sang, “Laid Off American Man,” parts of whose lyrics were written as I stood there in the Unemployment Office Line on Tennessee Street, Vallejo way back in 1994. Saying Adios to the Bechtel Corporation after 10 years there in SF! Yeehaw!

First Salon of Benicia Literary Arts Group, April 21 -
This group is hot and happening! They’re new in Benicia in the last year or so and have already sponsored several events and two book publishings. Their first Salon was on Monday night, April 21 on "Characterization," in prose writing and two more are planned for Monday nights, May 19 and June 16, at The Upstairs at First Street Cafe, 7-9 pm, 440 First Street. See their website at They published the very recent New and 5th Anthology of the First Tuesday Poets, “A Word for All Seasons.” Nice job! (See below.)

A Poetry Happening in Benicia, April 26 -
Long-time Benicia artist Sam Morse and his wife Johanna Ely organized a “Poetry Happening in Benicia” at Studio 941 in the Benicia Arsenal, 941 Jackson Street, complete with art door prizes, good eats, poetry readings, LIVE musicians and music! Great acoustics and art all over! Way to go, Sam and Johanna! Let’s do it again, soon and yearly, just before Open Studios May 4-5 !

5th Poetry Anthology Celebration, April 27 -
“A Word for All Seasons.” Way too cool. Nice publication! Additional copies available at Bookshop Benicia, 636 First Street, at $14.95. Twentynine First Tuesday poets are included with 2-3 poems each and we read them on the 27th. Design and cover art by Benicia artist and poet Thomas Eric Stanton, Editing by Lois Requist and Crockett poet Sherry Sheehan. Published by Benicia Literary Arts Group. We also saluted our friend and artist/poet member Bonnie Weidel who passed away on Good Friday, April 18. Bonnie’s artistic tenacity and influence was also equaled in her bright, insightful poetry. You are always with us, Dear, Dear Bonnie!

Bonnie Weidel Honored, April 29 -
The City of Benicia, City Council, and Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and “Friends of Bonnie Weidel,” honored art icon and long-time educator and past school board member, Bonnie Weidel with a proclamation in her honor on April 29. It was presented to Bonnie’s son Ian Allen, also long-time resident of Benicia. Several Benicians enjoyed sharing excerpts of Bonnie’s events and stories at the podium.

1. Ian Allen of Benicia receives Proclamation for Bonnie Weidel at City Council meeting, April 29th
2. The recently published 5th Anthology of First Tuesday Poets

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