Tim J. Myers: Building a Poem

Word by Word, Line by Line. Tim J. Myers, a Senior Lecturer at Santa Clara University, will be presenting “Building a Poem” on Sunday, September 18, 2016 from 3:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. at our San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders, at History San José.

Myers claims, the best poetry works, in part, because it’s crafted carefully even in its details. In his presentation Tim Myers will read some of his poems, and explore ways to make one’s poetry more vibrant and powerful via specifics. Good poetry is a “full” experience, that is, it engages readers on many levels; it succeeds because of both conscious and unconscious effects on readers.  With this in mind, Tim will analyze sample poems by paying attention to specific craft elements—like word choice, sound, rhythm, line breaks, and so on.  Also, Tim Myers will look at the “psychological journey” an individual poem takes a reader on, using sample poems as models and analyzing them.

Tim J Myers.
Tim J.Myers is a prolific writer. His Nectar of Story: Poems got superb endorsements from nationally-known writers Chase Twichell, Grace Cavalieri, Joseph Bruchac, and National Book Award finalist Ron Hansen. He has two other books of poetry out. He has published over 130 individual poems, won a national poetry contest judged by John Updike, and won a prize in the international Writers of the Future Contest for science fiction.  His children’s book Basho and the Fox was read aloud on NPR, made the New York Times bestseller list for children’s book, and was a Smithsonian Notable children’s book for 2001.

Tim believes, “a powerful story, whether actual or fantastic, is a landmark in the psychic world…and we never know what a story may do as it comes into our lives.”


The papers say the Chinese knew them first,
three years after the death of the one called Christ.

They make me want to speak. I grope for theme,
finding only a resonance of dream.

One blurs past, its yellow-white of sun
an instant’s glow this side of oblivion.

I scratch for a poem. It’s discontent I feel
while space is grassland flared with asphodel.

Copyright © 1996, Tim Myers



Dennis Richardson and Youth Poetry

Who better than Dennis Richardson, who is still youthful at heart and the same leader he was, back in his teaching days, to present the Youth Poetry segment at the San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders, on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at History San José?From 2:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., Dennis will be reading and presenting, along with a small group of mid-teens and early twenties, Youth Poetry. This segment will demonstrate the young talent, who are engaged in their writing and reading poetry with an edge, and command a presence on stage. These are the young voices that need to be heard, that are publicly present, and whose voices will still be heard long after the show is over.

Dennis R

Dennis Richardson comes from an educational background. He co-hosts the Willow Glen Third Thursday poetry readings with his wife, Christine. He helped develop the Willow Glen Poetry Project’s blog and collaborated in the publication of the anthologies in the series. Dennis has read in the poetry series of the NoonArts & Lecture events in San José: Ekphrasis, Allure of Forms, and The Poetry Café. He has received recognition for his poetry, and his poems have been published in the anthologies Shared Light, No Ordinary Language, Third Thursdays, and Caesura.


There, up ahead where the trail should be
Waits a small stone summer snowman
with his non-melting heart,
No grinning charcoal mouth
Or even a stick finger to point the way,

Just the lingering spirit
Of someone before you
Who passed this way
Wanting you to know
You hadn’t lost your way
—Dennis Richardson


Evan Brasco, and three other students will be accompanying Dennis Richardson
in their presentation of Youth Poetry. Having completed his San José College Preparatory High School, Evan is in his second year at San José City College.  Don’t miss, what we believe to be an energized 50 minutes!

Youth Poetry

Kelly Cressio-Moeller: Journal Submissions

Kelly Cressio-Moeller will be presenting Journal Submissions at the San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders, on Sunday, September 18, 2016, at History San José, from 10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Kelly will present how to start submitting to poetry journals for publication. Time permitting, the presentation will explore basic do’s and don’ts when submitting to a poetry journal: cover letters, bios, guideline terminology, journal selection, and submission organization. Also hoping to have time for a Q & A.

Kelly CM

Who best to present this Journal Submissions, but Kelly Cressio-Moeller, whose poetry can be seen at Boxcar Poetry Review, burntdistrict, Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Rattle, Southern Humanities Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and ZYZZYVA among others. She has graced the Willow Glen Poetry Project anthologies with her poems, including the anthology, First Water: Best of Pirene’s Fountain.

Kelly’s poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net. She is an Associate Editor at Glass Lyre Press. She shares her fully-caffeinated life with her tall husband, two ever-growing sons, and their immortal basset hound in Northern California. Visit her website at http://www.kellycressiomoeller.com.

for my father

Quiet as night
Twisting in the breeze of stars,
You place feathers for me to find:
In the garden, my book bag, a desk drawer.
These soft blades of mourning
Carve a space in the air for us to meet.
Sweet silence. Sweet stillness.
Tonight, on this cliffside path,
My flashlit footsteps make
The small stones speak.

I cannot see it but the ocean is here
Like the heaviness your absence leaves,
An anchor sinking, unraveling its chain.
There is beauty in this—a merciful peace
That disrobes the shadows around me,
Steadies my gait.

As I wander among the cypress in the dark,
You are stones painted white, marking my way
Home to a place I’ve never lived,
Under constellations fixed in skies
I’ve yet to know.

(First published in Valparaiso Poetry Review,
Volume XV, Number 1, Fall/Winter 2013-2014)

Charlotte Muse: Sharpening the Senses

Charlotte Muse, a well-known poet from Menlo Park will be coming down to San José to present “Sharpening the Senses” from 9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. at the San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders, on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at History San José.


She received both her MA and MFA from San Francisco State, where she taught poetry. Charlotte was also the Peninsula Instructor in Poetry for UC Berkeley Extension for many years, and has taught writers of all ages at many different venues. Her most recent books include Violin (Blurb Books, 2013), a series of poems illustrated by the artist Joyce Savre, and A Story Also Grows (a Main Street Rag Editor’s Selection. A handmade letterpress edition by the Chester Creek Press is in both the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress rare book collections.)

Awards include the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Award, the 2011 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize, the Yeats Society of New York’s Poetry Award, two Atlanta Review International Publication Awards, and prizes in the Joy Harjo Poetry Award contest, the Foley Prize, and Ireland’s Feile Filiochta, among others. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including Room to Breathe (Heyday Books) A Bird Black As The Sun (Green Poet Press); and The Place That Inhabits Us (Sixteen Rivers Press). Her website is at www.charlottemuse.net.

for Jennifer

Hurry. The redbud won’t wait, or the freesia,
or the silver-bark cherry. All the new webs,
shining and floating like unrounded bubbles
won’t wait. They’ll be gone even faster. Hurry.
Let’s lay down heaviness and watch.
If we find ourselves asking whether this is the last spring,
it’s not because we want to know.
It’s only that asking makes us look.

I know of a walk to a waterfall,
past smaller streams wetting the path,
past butterflies flashing
and banana slugs oozing blindly towards
a heaven of pink-flowered sorrel.
There’s the sound of the stream, a distant woodpecker,
and the falls themselves, where water pours down
spreading like hair over the rock.

We don’t owe everything to madmen who think
we’re only empty shoes in their jig with death.
We don’t owe everything to sorrow.

Workshop: Revising a Poem by Dean Rader

Poet Dean Rader will provide a workshop on Balance and Proportion: Revising the Poem at the San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at History San José, CA. This workshop will be held from 2:00 p.m.- 3:50 p.m.

How fun is writing that first draft? How hard is turning that mediocre first draft into a good second draft? And how hard is turning the slightly better fifth draft into that even better sixth draft. When does it end? What if you make it worse? This workshop will focus on the least sexy part of poem-making—the act of revising. It will use as its compass the ultimate goal of poetic proportionality.


Dean Rader’s Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize, and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was a Barnes & Noble Review Best Poetry Book of the Year. He is the editor of 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry and the winner of the 2015 George Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is a professor at The University of San Francisco, where he won the university’s distinguished research award in 2011. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Zyzzyva, Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day and dozens of others. Two new poetry collections are forthcoming: Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) and Suture, collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench (Black Lawrence Press, 2017).


SOMETHING THAT MELTS can also burn, like a
Thicket of ice in the pond, the cold net
Of stars, even the hard white ax of the
Heart. A man can freeze without getting wet

Just as he can lose without being lost,
But winter finds everyone, even though
We spend our whole life eluding it. Frost
Reminds us of what is to come—the snow,

the sky, the trees, the skin, the sleet, the sleep.
How often have I woken in fear, blind
In my unknowing? The woods are dark and deep,
Even in the day; still the mind will find

Its way into the light, into the bright
Thaw of this life, where we, both flake and flame,
Fire and fall through. Let sun daze, let night
Show day how to blaze, let death drop its name.

Workshop: Surreal Poetry by Tresha Haefner-Rubinstein

Tresha Haefner-Rubinstein is an ideal person to teach a Surreal Poetry workshop at the San José Poetry Festival 2016. Tresha holds an M.A. in the Psychology of Creativity, from Saybrook University, and has studied with such poets as Kim Addonizio, Matthew Dickman, Sally Ashton, and such notorious surreal poets as Brendan Constantine, Sarah Maclay, and Hannah Gamble (recipient of the Ruth Stone Lily Prize). Tresha’s own work has been published in many journals and magazines, most notably, The Cincinnati Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle. She currently teaches advanced creative writing in Los Angeles.


How are surreal poems both similar and different from other types of poems? In this workshop you will learn a little bit about the history of surrealism, its goals and aims as well as its aesthetic principles. You will discover new techniques for reading surrealist poetry and alternative methods for writing it on your own. Even if you are not a “surrealist” poet, you will discover creative new ways of using “surrealist” techniques to enhance your more traditional verses, and spark original ideas.

Here is a poem by Tresha  Haefner-Rubinstein.


Map: Something sepia-toned, full of sea monsters. It tells you where you want to be, everywhere you are afraid to go.
Cartographer:  A boy, looking out a window, dreaming about sex and butterflies.  He is looking for the right passage. He is looking for lost keys. He is looking for you.
Isthmus: In a large body of water, two narrow strips of love with death on either side. Cross at night. Cross at morning. Sleep long sleeps in the gusty afternoon.
Ocean: Something for whales to swim in. The eye of the same boy looking out the window, dreaming about sex.  A large body of water. A large communication network for whales who sing to each other from entire hemispheres away.
Hemisphere: An imaginary line.
Imaginary Line:  All lines are imaginary. Even the map is an invention, a basket we wove to hold the entire world.
Continents: What holds the body, holds the mountains. A place to find moose and lizards, tea-roses and butterflies, about which a boy is dreaming when he looks out the window, imagining the seas parting for the clean slicing bow of his ship.
Compass Rose:  A flower. The blossoming of discovery. The first boat broke through the water like a floret cutting the soil. Wherever way it was pointed, that was the way home.


Nils Peterson: How to Read a Poem Out Loud

It is one thing to enjoy reading poetry by well known poets and write your own poems. But it’s a whole different experience reciting and reading poetry out loud to an audience. Come September 18, 2016, on a Sunday morning at History San José, Nils Peterson will show you How to Read a Poem Out Loud at our San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders. His presentation will be held at the Firehouse, from
9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

Nils Peterson, Professor Emeritus from San José State University, was the first Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County,  from 2009-2011.  He is also one of the original founders of Poetry Center San José.  He has melded his poetry with works of art and music, and offered many workshops throughout his career as a poet. He has published poetry, science fiction, and articles as varying as golf and Shakespeare. He was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart Prize. His books include Here is no Ordinary Rejoicing, The Comedy of Desires, Driving a Herd of Moose to Durango; For This Day, Revenge of Socks, and A Walk to the Center of Things.    


As the first Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County, Peterson’s first project was putting out a call to all the county residents to send him a 17-syllable line about the county. Out of a  outpour of lines from the county, Peterson selected his most favorite lines and created a 100-line poem, calling it A Family Album, Santa Clara County, 2009. Thereafter, his next project for the community was Writing Thirty Poems For Thirty days, and select three prize winners. And another original project for the community was to create Haiku-ish poems.  Peterson has also been a participant and contributor to the multi-laureate collaborations Local Habitations and Good Talk.


Driving back from a night at the shore
between hills green with new rye grass. Home,
I see in my neighbor’s yard the year’s first
iris bud. The purple of that almost-here
flower, makes me remember that Frederick
wanted a winter poem by tonight for The Crow.

Well, here it is, a day late, finished up
in a coffee shop, Super Bowl Sunday,
temperature in the fifties, air moist,
low gray clouds moving in a slow scud.
There’s skiing three hours drive away.
I won’t go, yet I have “a mind of winter.”

Well again. It isn’t finished. I type
a week later. Now jonquils and daffodils,
and when I walk my dog, I see heron—like
white clouds—nesting in a still barren tree.
Yet my winter mind dozes in its burrow
refusing to come out of long sleep.

Three or four years later, still not finished,
and you now sleep the longest sleep. Frederick,
this year I missed the gravity of your smile in the dining hall
where we once leaned on coffee and waited for sunrise.
So fierce you were against injustice, at such a cost.
You would not dance, but there was such a longing in you.