7th poet laureate of Benicia, California
Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano featuring Thomas Stanton, recorded in February of 2019, is my 4th California poet laureate interview on Literary Dialogues. It was fun because Tom defies all the boundaries and so I let the interview go where it would. Eventually it led us down the path of
building community, musicality of poetry, throat singing, and bringing poetry to high school youth and children. You will be surprised when you see how the video culminates in our improvising a sound poem on camera. To set up the improvisation process, we chose just a few words of weaving terminology, and some minimal ground rules for the poem. Improv is a game and a form of play. So I enjoyed it immensely.
The four laureates I have interviewed on this series are from my new home in Solano County. They are Genea Brice, the first poet laureate of Vallejo, D.L. Lang the second poet of Vallejo, Johanna Ely the 6th poet of Benicia a neighboring town.
And now Thomas Stanton the 7th poet laureate of Benicia. They are each so different but share the same zeal and dedication to bringing both the reading and writing poetry to the people. I plan to reach out to the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond in future poet laureate interviews.
It is a glorious thing that the poet laureate movement is blossoming in the midst of the current movement to down size and close down public education. To resist this trend, poetry is opening up public discourse on the community level, town by town.
I believe strongly in the poet laureate movement because it encourages community participation in the arts. When cities appoint poets laureate and sponsor them in schools, libraries and community events, poetry and the arts achieve a greater visibility and legitimacy. The poet laureate movement goes beyond simply sharing their own poetry on civic bandstands on holidays. It makes the art of poetry an important part of daily life by involving the wider community in sharing their own creativity, insights, feelings, and opinions. The movement is spreading as municipalities throughout the state and country appoint new poets laureate.
About Nina Serrano: Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.comor contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.
About Estuary Press: Estuary Press is the publisher of Nicaragua Way. It is also the home of the Harvey Richards Media Archive, a repository of photography and video documentaries of various social change and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact Paul Richards (510) 967 5577, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit estuarypress.com for more details.
MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; email@example.com