This coming Saturday, September 21st, at Gatsby Books, Long Beach will be treated to a night of Local Poetry from the hosts of the Annual Long Beach Poetry Festival. This feature will includes Anna Badua, Donna Hilbert, , Clint Margrave (all contributors to Cadence Collective) as wells as Tamara Madison, Kevin Lee, and Paul Kareem Tayyar. Each of these established writers have countless credits to their names: books, chapbooks, anthologies, journal publications, community recognition, and are seasoned features. All of these poets are more than worthy of their own feature at the Long Beach Poetry Festival. Clint Margrave took a bit of time and let me ask him questions about the Fundraiser and the Long Beach Poetry Festival, which occurs October 12th of this year.
Denise R. Weuve: Writing is such a solo event, and very self involved, so what made you become part of developing the community instead of focusing solely on your own poetry, as many poets do?
Clint Margrave: Kevin Lee. He said, “Hey, are you interested in starting a poetry festival in Long Beach with me?” Otherwise, I would have just kept to myself, honestly. The truth is, writing poetry is ultimately a solitary event, though it is nice to have such a warm and inspiring community here in Long Beach.
DRW: Why do you think Long Beach has such a strong showing of inspiring poets?
Clint Margrave: I’d attribute it to the poetry culture that grew out of CSULB back in the 1970s and 80s, not to mention the influence of Bukowski, who moved just across the Vincent Thomas Bridge in his later years, as well as to Joan Jobe Smith and Marilyn Johnson, the editors of the longstanding Long Beach staple Pearl magazine, who have kept the magazine going for almost forty years, give or take a few hiatuses.
The really amazing thing is that over the past 30-40 years, Long Beach has been able to sustain such a viable poetry community. One of the reasons is that I think Long Beach serves as the literary alternative to all the Hollywood hoopla just north of here. This community isn’t saturated with actors or academics, but instead is made up of real working class, un-pretentious people who enjoy poetry that is less interested in navel-gazing melodrama or trying to demonstrate how clever it is, and more interested in having something to say about life.
DRW: This Saturday you and your co-host will be doing a fundraiser at Gatsby Books for the Poetry Festival. Talk about the features that will be reading.
Clint Margrave: I’ll be reading alongside Anna Badua, Donna Hilbert, Kevin Lee, Tamara Madison, and Paul Tayyar. The features at this event will consist entirely of the festival organizers. Though every single one of my fellow organizers is talented, well published, and deserving of a feature at the festival, early on, the six of us decided in good taste that we wouldn’t read, so every year we do this as a way to have fun and raise money for the event. Featuring ourselves at the fundraiser, of course, is also the easiest way to do it without having to ask someone else to hustle for us!
DRW: Many of your hosts are also Cadence Collective contributors, and we are thrilled to have that connection. Can you explain how you all pick your features, and performers for the Long Beach Poetry Festival?
Clint Margrave: There is really only one requirement for how we select the poets to read at the festival: that you’re a good writer. Since there are six of us, we also all have differing opinions and tastes, which leads to a greater variety of poets to choose from. We also try to bring poets from other states and even other countries as well, so it’s more of a national/international event rather than just something regional. This year we have poets from across the U.S. and even a poet from Chile.
DRW: How many fundraisers do you plan on doing prior to the festival?
Clint Margrave: As mentioned, this year’s fundraiser reading at Gatsby Books consists of the festival organizers. But in past years, we have held other fundraising events, one in which we featured two of our favorite Long Beach poets, Joan Jobe Smith and Fred Voss, both of whom were featured at our inaugural festival in 2011.
This year, there is only one at Gatsby on the 21st, so we hope to have a great turnout! So please, anyone planning on supporting this festival, we hope you can make it down!
DRW: How can people who can’t make it this 21st event donate to this great fundraiser?
My gratitude to Clint Margrave for his time and all of the hosts for their organization of this annual event. We are a community, whether here on Cadence Collective or simply by brotherhood of the art that is Poetry. Anna Badua best explained the importance of this event and the need for fundraising, “Poetry should be accessible to everyone. Donations allow us to keep the festival a free community event. For us, this is a labor of love; all donations go directly toward the cost of the festival. Each dollar reflects a contribution to our vibrant literary community.” If you can’t make this event please donate at PayPal.com.
Denise R. Weuve is a poet and a contributor here at Cadence Collective: Long Beach Poets.