Healing the Fire

Malibu Poet Laureate Ricardo Means Ybarra (2017-2018) congratulated Ellen Reich on her selection as Malibu’s second Poet Laureate for 2019-2020, at the Healing the Fire poetry event on February 23. Photo by Flavia Potenza

Art heals.

The February 23 Loose Lips poetry presentation was not so much a reading as it was a theater piece. That’s not surprising when the multi-talented Jean Colonomos, collaborating with co-founder of Loose Lips, poet Millicent Borges Accardi, and poet Ann Buxie, is also a playwright.

Colonomos and poet Ann Buxie facilitated the event which, while still a reading, rested on a theatrical frame by establishing an overall form. Much as you would dictate whether a poem’s form is Haiku or free verse, for example, the device of pairing the poems with real-time dispatches from the Woolsey fire, brought it into the realm of theater.

The dispatches established the reality of the fire as it developed. As they interacted with the post-fire poems, a rhythmic flow, reminiscent of call-and-response, created–poem to dispatch to poem–a mosaic of personal experience to the larger picture.

The gathering of souls, kindred in the disaster, shared what were uplifting, healing moments, one of which was not a poem but the surprise announcement by Malibu’s first Poet Laureate, Ricardo Means Ybarra (20017-2018), of Ellen Reich as the next Poet Laureate to represent the City of Malibu.

Coming up in the April 5 issue, the Messenger Mountain News will celebrate National Poetry Month by publishing the full program in the order it was presented.


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at editor@messengermountainnews.com

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