MONTEREY BAY POETRY CONSORTIUM: joanna martin + edward jarvis

(Charles Kruger)

For some years now, the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium, along with the National Writers’ Union Chapter 7 and Poetry Slow Down on KXRA 540 has sponsored monthly readings (2nd Tuesdays) at the East Village Coffee Lounge in Monterey.

Recently, I drove down the coast to attend this series, featuring local poets Ed Jarvis and Joanna Martin delivering excellent sets to a small but sophisticated and attentive audience. The evening was emceed by poet Robert Nielsen, famous locally as the father of Stanford-educated rapper MC Lars.

Joanna Martin received her BA in Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a nursing degree from Chabot College in Hayward. She is a mother of two and has been a nurse for 17 years at Dominican Hospital, where she has worked for eight years in Cardiac Care. She started writing poetry 15 years ago and has been active in writing groups and reading her work in the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay areas. Her work has been published in Porter Gulch Review and Quarry West. She is a winner of the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award.

Ms. Martin’s poetry explores every day objects and events with a musical lilt and gentle humor that elicits meaning from mundane experiences. She opens with a long poem simply exploring the subject of  “bowls,” beginning “My heart opens in bowls…” In another poem, she reflects on her thoughts and feelings while being cared for by her hairdresser. “Her fingers read my hair strands like Braille…”

Edward Jarvis was born in the San Joaquin Valley and raised on a ranch east of Tulare. His interest in literature began when he was sixteen years old upon reading the first sentence of Sean O’Casey’s autobiography, which is three pages long. He has published in numerous literary magazines and his book of poetry, Palimpsest, was published in 2001. He holds both a degree in the humanities and a chiropractic, the latter of which he practices in Pacific Grove.

Mr. Jarvis’s poems reflect his experiences as a farmboy and a healer. Many of his poems focus lovingly on the rural countryside and tell of butterflies and hyacinths. But his voice is larger than that. I particularly enjoyed a poem to his 9-year-old grandson about the joys of obscenity, the “fast flying fricative with its gratifying glottal stop.”

This poetry series is well worth an out-of-town adventure with a drive down the coast to Monterey, which has long been  a literary mecca for the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson (home is the sailor! home from the sea!) and Robinson Jeffers. The scenery is beautiful, the haunting and haunted Cypress trees twisted by the wind and glistening with the sea spray will enchant you, and you will find a literary scene that is alive and kicking.

And don’t forget to make time for some kickass clam chowder.