Friday, May 24, 2024

May Brings Music and Poetry in Santa Barbara

Melinda Palacio, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate

 In one of my busiest weekends, Saturday began with the high energy needed to entertain folks at the Farmers Market. I played music with the Ladies Social Strumming Club, the group of all women string-instrument players. I feel fortunate that Maria Cincotta, who also founded the Brasscals, put together a group of supportive women who gather every other week to learn new songs on guitar, bass, or ukulele. Maria is patient teacher and band leader. I’m not always available to join, but she allows me to drop in whenever they can. Playing music with other women has improved my guitar skills. Saturday morning was my third time performing with the lady strummers. Our set this year consisted of 12 songs; last year, we only had six tunes to offer. We’ve come along way together. 


A few hours later, I resumed my Poet Laureate duties at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (AFSB). Last month, I received a phone call from Bay Hallowell, Gallery Committee member. She heard the suite of poems that I wrote for Colleen Kelly’s Dichotomy of Laundry exhibit and asked if I would write some poems for the Ruth Leaf collection. In our conversation, we decided to invite more poets to participate. I was able to include 11 poets. It was a special event with Ruth’s family in attendance of the closing reception. Ruth’s daughter told us that the art exhibit represented her late mother’s soul, something that is evident in her hand-colored etching and woodcuts. Hearing excerpts of her letters and the poems inspired by her art was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


I was happy to discover the cozy gallery at the AFSB. The corner house at 229 E. Victoria is easy to miss, but worth exploring the Santa Barbara treasure that is only open on Saturdays from 1-4pm. Ruth Leaf’s art exhibit is no longer on display, but you can sign up for their mailing list or visit the website to find out about future exhibits in the beautiful space. 


My day ended with an assignment for the Independent to review Cody Jinks at the Santa Barbara Bowl, always a fun time at the outdoor music venue. 


Next weekend may be Memorial Day and a holiday weekend for most, but poetry continues with the Mission Poetry Series, this time via zoom at 1pm. Hear inaugural poet Richard Blanco and the winners of the Alta California Prize: poets Fred Arroyo and Amelia Rodriguez.


This year, I will be participating in the I Madonnari, not as a chalk artist but as a poet and musician at the stage at 1:45 to 2pm, in a short fifteen-minute set. If you miss this short window, I hope to see you at First Thursday in June, where I will join other poets in offering typewritten poetry on demand. Come and receive a free, personalized poem in front of Old Navy on State Street from 5-8pm. 

*an earlier version of this column was published in the Santa Barbara Independent

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