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Bless the poets.
Who else could take the rise and fall of the tide and turn it into art?
Amos Russel Wells did in “The Rock”:
Encircled by the sea, a stony ledge
Lies at the breaker's edge.
The ebbing and the flowing of the tide
Disclose the rock, and hide.
Now like a granite lion crouching there
Its head is black in air,
And now the whelming waters in a night
Have stolen it from sight.
You don’t need to see the poet’s “inspiration piece” to see it through his words.
You probably know the “Great Wave” from Katsushika Hokusai’s “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.” But have you “seen” the roiling sea, the little mountain, the tiny boat through the eyes of the late American poet Donald Finkel?
Using ekphrasis poetry he describes “The Great Wave: Hokusai” this way:
It is because the sea is blue,
Because Fuji is blue, because the bent blue
Men have white faces, like the snow
On Fuji, like the crest of the wave in the sky the color of their
Boats. It is because the air
Is full of writing, because the wave is still: that nothing
Will harm these frail strangers,
That high over Fuji in an earthcolored sky the fingers
Will not fall; and the blue men
Lean on the sea like snow, and the wave like a mountain leans
Against the sky.
I’ve been writing for a long time, but poetry as an endeavor has never been my strong suit; any attempt generally ends up as a limerick. That’s a fun form of writing, however, because of the way a contraction can be the key to a perfect piece of anapestic meter.
Malibu has a long love affair with poetry, and even boasts a Poet Laureate Committee.
The city honors its poets laureate with carved stones at Legacy Park. Ricardo Means Ybarra was first to assume the mantle. Then came Ellen Reich, who sadly passed earlier this year before her term was up.
Malibu’s new poet laureate is Dr. John Struloeff, who will host free monthly Caffeinated Verse poetry programs (via Zoom initially), starting 11 a.m. Oct. 24. Struloeff will be the featured reader, followed by an “open-mic” for anyone to read their work.
To RSVP, go to malibuartsandculture.org/poetry.
In announcing Struloeff’s appointment, Mayor Mikke Pierson said poetry can serve as a soothing, healing, understanding voice of the community.
“I applaud the work of the Poet Laureate Committee and our first two poets laureate, who have turned this program into a valuable educational and cultural enrichment for Malibu,” Pierson said.
Surfside News also loves poetry — and we invite you to submit your prose for our Poet’s Corner, where we have recently featured the work of Malibu Middle School students focusing on the pandemic.
For a chance to see your poem featured on our website or in our special print editions — we’ll have more in November and December — email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Steepleton is editor of Malibu Surfside News. He is not a poet.