Calaveras Station Reading at Sacramento Poetry Center

Thanks so much to everyone who attended the Calaveras Station reading at Sacramento Poetry Center! Thanks especially to host, Trina Drotar, as well as the contributors who read with me: Jim Benton, Genelle Chaconas, Shadi Gex, Marcelo Hernandez, Peggy Kincaid, Lee Lee, Joe Montalbo and Jordan Okumura.

Having gotten lost on the way to the SPC, I arrived with just enough time to chat with a couple friends. Aschala Edwards and Kylee Cook were in attendance, both had helped workshop my pai gow poker piece, so I was happy to share a newer draft with them. Also there were Mary Guidice, Robin Martin and Gordon Warnock.

When Trina Drotar contacted me a few months ago to read at the SPC, I admit to being a little nervous–it would be my first reading in over a year, having graduated in May of 2009. For awhile, I couldn’t decide what to read. I’d been hesitant to read my pai gow poker piece because its visual aspects might be lost on my listeners. I also questioned whether the words alone would translate the integrity of the piece. In the end, I decided to read it, figuring that if the language alone was not enough to captivate my listeners, then the piece would not be enough to captivate the reader. I think I made the right decision.

I think this was the best Calaveras Station Reading that I’ve attended. I was completely enthralled by all the readings–there was a good mix of prose and poetry with a variety of voices and subject matter to keep the night interesting throughout. I especially enjoyed listening to Marcelo Hernandez, a talented emerging writer I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing read at CSUS. I also enjoyed Shadi Gex’s reading, “Cross Stitch” and Genelle Chaconas’s “The Ark.”

Following the reading, I chatted briefly with Joshua McKinney, poet and CSUS professor. I, unfortunately, have never taken a class with him, but have heard him read and speak a number of times. Afterward, Kylee, Aschala, Gordon and I went to Hoppy’s for a late night drink and snack. You can’t beat two dollar appetizers and great company.

I’ve included pictures of the evening here. My camera died before the last two readers, Joe Montalbo and Jordan Okumura, (sorry!) and the rest are a bit fuzzy.

I’ve been reading through the 2010 Calaveras Station issue and am quite impressed. It opens with an essay from featured faculty author, Stephanie Tucker, “But What If Nobody’s Listening? Deconstructing A Wonderful Life,” which I enjoyed, as It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. Here are some of my favorite pieces in the journal so far:

  • Aswang, by Socram Inar
  • Cross Stitch, by Shadi Gex
  • Counting Zeroes, by Marcelo Hernandez
  • Memoirs of a Pear, by Lee Lee
  • The Natural Order of Things, by  David Tarleton (uh-freakin’mazing)

Thanks very much again to Trina Drotar and the Sacramento Poetry Center for having me. Also, thanks especially to Marie Hoffman and Bridget Mabunga from writer’s group, who helped workshop my pai gow poker piece, and to everyone who gave me such great feedback following the reading.

The Sacramento Poetry Center presents a Calaveras Station Reading

Enjoy an evening of poetry and prose with contributors to Calaveras Station, Sacramento State University’s Literary Journal.

Date: Monday, September 20, 2010
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (note early start time)
Location: SPC (2719 25th Street)
25th and R (Sacramento)

Featured Readers include: Jim Benton, Genelle Chaconas, Shadi Gex, Marcelo Hernandez Peggy Kincaid, Lee Lee, Joe Montalbo, Jen Palmares Meadows and Jordan Okumura.

Journals will be available for purchase. Cash or check payable to CSLJ.

Contributor Bios

James Benton lives in Sacramento with his wife of 34 years. He received his BA from Eastern Oregon University where he studied with poet David Axelrod, and his MA in creative writing at Cal State Sacramento where he studied with poet Joshua McKinney and novelists Peter Grandbois and Doug Rice. He was recipient of four Dominic J. Bazzanella Literary awards between 2009 and 2010. Poetry, short fiction, memoir, and reviews have appeared in cold-drill, Oregon East, Calaveras Station, Convergence: An On-Line Journal of Poetry and Art, Raintown Review, Word Riot,, and RATTLE. New York Quarterly promises to publish poetry eventually.

Genelle Chaconas has been writing poetry seriously for a mere three years. Under the tutelage of her infamous outlaw of a shaman poet legend B.L. Kennedy, she’s learned a fraction about how to open a piece of herself and let out the blood that might just make a blot on a page. Despite having been educated CSUS in Creative Writing, Genelle has been published on Medusa’s Kitchen and in Rattlesnake Review, Calaveras Station, Six Foot Swells, and Brevities. She is currently deeply embroiled in investigating the relationship between the written word and image, the intimacy of the verbal and the visual, in a number of different mediums. She’s still at large. She’s made her demands. She won’t be taken alive.

Shadi Gex, born to a gypsy life-style, journeyed to the Bay Area in 1978. After graduating from CSUS in 1989, she taught English and Theatre in public schools for 19 years. Shadi has written and directed numerous plays, and her prose and poetry have been published in the Suisun Valley Review and Calaveras Station. In 2008, her life-long passion for literature compelled her to pursue a master’s degree. Like Tennyson, Shadi endeavors, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” And, she remembers to laugh along the way. Shadi loves life with her fabulous and funny son, Maxfield.

Marcelo Hernandez is an avid dancer, carpenter, and handy man. He is a last year student at CSUS and the 2011 poetry section editor for Calaveras Station and is looking for a chapbook publisher. He won first place in the undergraduate poetry section of the Bazzannela literary award and is recipient of the Warmdal and Willhelm Memorial Scholarships.”

Peggy Kincaid grew up in Vacaville, CA. Her previous publications include essays and children’s stories. After raising four children, she now rooms with her crazy cat, hangs out with her granddaughter, and studies poetry at Sac State.

Lee Lee is a Hmong-American graduate student at CSU Sacramento working on a MA in Creative Writing.

Jen Palmares Meadows is a Filipina American writer. She received her M.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Sacramento and her B.A. in English Literature from San Francisco State University. Her writing can be found in publications like Filipinas Magazine and Tayo Literary Magazine. Her short story “Unripe Bananas,” was published in Walang Hiya: Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice, (Carayan Press 2010). She is currently working on her first novel in Sacramento, California, where she lives with her husband and son.

Joe Montalbo is a grad student at CSUS where he studies creative writing and poetry. He likes mint ice cream, naps, and Sharon Olds. He is co-head editor of Calaveras Station. He can clap with one hand and gives wonderful hugs.

Jordan Okumura completed her BA and MA at CSUS and wishes they had an MFA or PhD program so she would never have to leave CSUS. She has been published in Calaveras Station and Gargoyle. And she is currently obsessed with Lee Lor Lee.

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