Loose Lips Poetry Series, October 19

Loose Lips has received ten matching grants from Poets & Writers, a high honor for the series, which is dedicated to bringing a diverse array of the best contemporary poets to Topanga and provide audiences and authors with a poetic forum and community.

The next quarterly poetry reading will take place on Saturday, October 19, 2-4 p.m., and features writers Michelle Bitting and Friday Gretchen.

Bitting won the 2018 Fischer Poetry Prize; Quarter After Eight’s 2018 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest; and a fourth collection of poetry, Broken Kingdom, was awarded the 2018 Catamaran Prize and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2018.

Her third collection The Couple Who Fell to Earth (C & R Press), was named to Kirkus Reviews‘ Best of 2016. She has poems published in The American Poetry Review, Narrative, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review, Plume, and Green Mountains Review. Bitting is a Lecturer in Poetry and Creative Writing Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

Gretchen runs Ventura County’s “Poetry Out Loud” competition and is a founding member of the committee that established a Ventura County Poet Laurate. She was introduced to writing poetry at Moorpark College in 1990, culminating in winning the Poetry Slam at Lollapalooza, Los Angeles in 1994. Two-years later, in 1996, she teamed up with two distinguished LA poets to design, produce, and host LA Spoken, a poetry event attended by more than 300 of the most influential Los Angeles area poets.

Her poetry has appeared in ARTLIFE Limited Editions, Caffeine, ASKEW Poetry Journal, and the 2011 anthology, A Bird Black As The SunCalifornia Poets on Crows & Ravens. Her first book of poems, Unkindnesses (oldhatpress.org), was just recently published.

Light refreshments will be provided by Friends of the Topanga Library, and the reading always includes an open mic (one poem, please, no epics) following the featured guests.

The Topanga Library is located at 122 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290. For more information: (310) 455-3480; colapublib.org.


 Rise Behind East Facing Windows

Early morning light comes in across

tight trimmed lawn, as over a sea—

reflections of sky

in dew


All of the trees surround you

Clouds burst their tops in darkness

then light, a rolling motion over

sprouted limbs, like cream poured

into a stirred cup of coffee


From your family room

you see a pale hill smattered

in tall mustard grass and recall

a helicopter that lifted you to safety after a

horseback-riding accident


You finger the night’s sleep

from the corner of your eyes

Paul Simon sings, It was a sunny day

While, over the flame, prunes boil

for oatmeal— their plump, shiny blackness

bobs along the dark surface




He, silent and strong

She, unable to say, hold me

He provides space when it’s

the last thing she needs


She slides beneath sheets

becomes an embryo

and disappears


He dresses to blow off steam

Door slams, windows shudder


She rises from her bed of retreat

just to fold his warm clothes

against her chest


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