I began writing poetry at age eleven, finding it a solace and a means of understanding the world. When I came to California to attend the University of California in Santa Cruz, I had no doubt that I would be studying writing and literature. Blessed by the opportunity to learn from David Swanger, Priscilla Shaw, George Hitchcock, and other passionate educators, I graduated fortified with the knowledge that poetry was a path that beckoned, a way of being that sustained regardless of outward circumstances. I continued to work on my craft intensely, attending workshops and classes with prominent poets including Ellen Bass, Patrice Vecchione, Maude Meehan, Robert Sward, Deena Metzger, Sharon Olds, Robert Hass, Al Young, Deborah Digges, Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar and Robert Bly.
After working as a bookseller, creating standardized tests for public schools, and as a writer and editor, I took a break to begin a family. When my daughter began attending school, I said yes to my vocation as completely as I could. I had been facilitating a poetry writing group since 2000, and participants had always expressed their appreciation for my ability to lead them to their inner muse in a safe and creative environment, so I began to widen the circle, offering these kinds of drop-in groups through the Santa Cruz Public Library. Now these groups are held on Saturdays at the Central, Aptos and Scotts Valley branches.
In the past few years, I have taught poetry workshops in local schools through the Santa Cruz County Arts Council’s SPECTRA program and California Poets in the Schools. I have served as a guest artist to Monarch Services (formerly Women’s Crisis Support), WomenCARE, and the Homeless Services Center. And since 2011, I have been bringing poetry to the lives of the elderly who reside in assisted living facilities in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties with my WisdomVerse program. Many of these seniors have Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and other physical and cognitive disabilities, but despite these obstacles, they all have a story to tell. My job as a teacher and facilitator is to create a comfortable setting, where people can flourish — welcoming their creativity and humanity. Individuals who participate enjoy the stimulation of language and community and a teaching style that ensures achievement.
I believe in the sacred quality of writing and the profound truth that each individual holds, and I honor the transformative quality of poetry. I am able to establish rapport with participants and offer a safe nonjudgmental space, so everyone is free to share and have fun. I feel this is a gift that I have been given — the ability to help people access their thoughts and feelings, and to explore and discover the joy of language and poetry. I look forward to sharing this with you!
In a world where intimacy and connection are so often lacking, poetry becomes a powerful reminder that we can awaken to the marvelous present of our senses and our spirits. Poets are the seekers, the seers, and the voice for the voiceless. Join me in this sacred endeavor and let poetry into your life!
Partial List of Professional Achievements:
Facilitated the Magdalena’s Muse Drop-In Poetry Writing Group from 2000-2014 at local bookstores throughout Santa Cruz County, where hundreds of people were guided to find their inner muse.
Produced Poets’ Circle at the Watsonville Public Library for over three years, a monthly poetry reading series and open mic for poets and musicians with grants received from the Arts Council and Poets & Writers, Inc.
Offered, Finding the Poet Within, the first class in poetry writing at the Santa Cruz Arts League in its over ninety year history.
Writing the Memoir, series of classes through the Watsonville Community Hospital’s Senior Circle.
Writing Our Way to Forgiveness, an all-day workshop offered at the Land of Medicine Buddha.
In collaboration with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, created and led poetry events at the annual Third Friday Poetry and Book Arts Event.
Designed and facilitated a workshop introducing elementary school teachers to the principles of teaching poetry in the classroom, in collaboration with the Siskiyou County Department of Education.
Active member of the Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education, a local advocacy network of the California Alliance of Arts Education, whose mission is to advocate for arts education for all students in every school community in Santa Cruz County; envisioning a core curriculum that provides sequential, standards-aligned arts education for every student.
Poet-Teacher with California Poets in the Schools
My poems have been published in several local journals, including the Cabrillo College Porter Gulch Review; 1000 Parades: California Poets in the Schools Statewide Anthology; Plentitude of Poets: Anthology of Poets from the Monterey Bay,; La Gazette; and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
I am currently working on my first collection of poetry, Light from Darkness.