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OJAI : Poetry Book Makes Debut

A slender volume with the works of 22 Ventura County poets will soon hit the shelves of local bookstores, thanks to an East Coast benefactor.

The book, titled “rivertalk,” had its debut at a reading Sunday at the Ojai Center for the Arts. About 13 of the featured poets braved the stifling afternoon heat to read their works to an audience of about 25 people.

The publication is the second in three years for Joan Raymund, a former college English teacher who runs a poetry workshop Tuesday evenings at the Center. It was her brother who paid to have the book published.

“We had no hope of having a book of our works until my brother Edward called me from out of the blue and said he had some extra money for charitable donations,” Raymund said. “He told me to choose a project I’d like to see come to fruition.”

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The choice was easy, Raymund said. They used $5,000 to print the book, and the selling price of $5 per volume will go back to the Center for the Arts. The poems included in the book were culled from more than 60 that were submitted, mostly from the people who attend Raymund’s workshop.

Don McIsaac, 78, a longtime Ojai resident, had a short poem published dealing with growth in Ventura County. The poem takes a poke at media coverage of the county’s growing population and says that earthquakes are causing the county to physically shrink as “one tectonic plate beneath another slides.”

Another poem, by Reta Taylor of Ventura, deals with drunk driving. Titled “One for the Road, Aimed at Willie,” it’s a true story that tells of a young man lying comatose in a hospital after being hit by a drunk driver. The subject of the poem was her son’s friend.

The book will be available this week at the Ventura Bookstore and at the Ojai Center for the Arts.

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