Thursday, October 12, 2006

Artoberfest features new anthology of 'Skyway Poets'


The "Skyway Poets" began in Paradise in 1990 as a group of writers who met regularly to critique each other's work and to conduct occasional readings. Since joining in 2002, Patricia Wellingham-Jones, through her PWJ Publishing, has brought out a number of chapbooks featuring group members.

A new anthology, containing the work of 10 Skyway Poets, will be introduced Saturday at noon in Diamond Alley between Third and Fourth streets in downtown Chico. "Skyways," edited by Wellingham-Jones, is available for $10 in paperback from Lyon Books in Chico or from www.wellinghamjones. com.

The Skyway Poets are also featured with selected poems displayed in the windows of the Chico Chamber of Commerce offices on Salem Street, part of the Window Art Project during the month-long Artoberfest celebration.

Two-thirds of the 30 poems featured in "Skyways" were written in response to "assigned words given as prompts for new poems at the end of each monthly session" of the writing group. Those words are given in brackets in the table of contents so the reader can have a bit of fun seeing the workings of the poetical mind. Ann Doro, for example, uses "layer":

Layered in doubt I listen again
to the family legend.
Grandpa borrowed a neighbor's bull
While they were at the movies.
It took less time than the telling
for that sire to mount every
cow in the pen
and start a dairy farm.
No way, I want to say. ...

She entitled the poem, "Bull?"

Zora Maksente uses "handle" to write of her father, a chef, in "Making a Comeback":

He grips a huge wooden-handled
spatula in his right hand, turns
vast amounts of sizzling raw
beef chunks,
over and over, on the grill's hot
surface. ...

During The Great Depression
at day's end all unsold food
was handed out the backdoor
to growing lines
of hungry people until --
it caught up with him, too.

Sally Allen McNall is stuck with "pitch" in "Touch Pitch," with the last lines funny and wondrous at the same time:

If she pries the yellow resin
from the tree with her fingers
and puts it in her mouth,
spit coats it, it won't stick
to her teeth, and it tastes exactly
how the tree tastes to itself.

Sylvia Rosen presents "color" in "Kaleidoscope":

... I began to imagine the earth
as a giant kaleidoscope
in the sky
tossing us all into
a variety of patterns
against the mirrored
illusions of our eyes
as if we were all chips of
tinted glass
shimmering together in
our brief moment
against the light
as we move to touch
and then depart

Patricia Wellingham-James takes "ride" for a ride in a strange poem called "Folded," in which a man "folded his ailing wife in three pieces" and called them "Bat, Bat-hag and Nag":

... On fine days the man
his wife
into his shirt pocket, took
on long scuffling walks
through scarlet and
autumn leaves,
to the lake where they
used to
on starry nights, along
winding trail
through firs and pines to their
favorite picnic table.

On these jaunts
Bat, his own true love, the spirit
of flying adventure, rode next
to his heart. ...

But there is still "Bat-hag" and "Nag" to contend with, and that's "the rest of the story."

Other contributors include Lara Gularte, Joy Harold Helsing, Mona Locke, Birgitte Molvig and Audrey C. Small. "Skyways" is a small gem, and plenty of fun.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2006 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.

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