Four months ago I didn’t read a lot of poetry, but since moving to San Diego I have been given a homey welcome to the art form. I went to the 5th night of SDSU’s Hugh C. Hyde Fall Living Writers Series and it just enhanced this experience. On the 7th of November I went to listen to four previous San Diego State University MFA students read excerpts from their book, Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems. They had very distinct voices and it was a pleasure to listen to Chris Baron, Cali Linfor, Heather Eudy and Sabrina Youmans discuss the themes of their books and perform their poems. The only wish that I was left with for the night was that they had used the fake lanterns they brought along to their full potential: they should have turned the lights off.
The four poets were introduced by their former SDSU professors, which was incredibly sweet and allowed the opportunity for their bios to be given nostalgically. It was very relaxed but not unprofessional. I felt that the room had an inherent sense of community that I wasn’t accustomed to. I feel like people don’t appreciate communities like this and naturally sever ties to their schooling life. But it seemed natural for these poets to be returning to read excerpts from their separate books.
Chris Baron read from his book Under the Broom Tree, showcasing stories of growing up and his thoughts toward religion, which were riveting. Cali Linfor read her poems from A Book of Ugly Things, which were very anecdotal, about her husband, old friends, and tangible images from her life. These were truly funny and entertaining. Heather Eudy read poems from Bills of Lading, which were actually among my favorites. She talked of driving cars across the country and of longing. They were very relatable and quite beautiful in a quirky way. And Sabrina Youngmans’ book Pacific Standard Time was filled with beautiful, long, elegant poems about events on her patio and of important places from her life. Together their poems complemented each other and they all told stories of their progressing lives.
Sometimes I can’t quite grasp poems, though when I study them I love them because I can hear the writer’s voice. But sometimes I can only hear my own confused internal voice. These poets, however, had unique voices that allowed them to connect with the audience through highly vivid and real images, which was what I loved about it. I feel like they brought me into the world of the Lantern Tree, and that was eye-opening.
Editor: Holly Duffy