When Alice Pero saw the new Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse being built at 1010 Foothill Boulevard, she knew it would be the perfect place to start a local poetry buzz in La Cañada. She, and fellow poet Lois P. Jones, wanted to create a space for regular readings that would feature well-known poets and give would-be wordsmiths a chance to read their works aloud.
Thanks to the pair’s efforts, the popular Westside Moonday Poetry Series now has a second home in La Cañada.
The Moonday Poetry Series began with an inaugural reading Sunday afternoon that drew a crowd of rhyme-loving locals to the newly reopened Flintridge Bookstore. As the reading began, employees dragged outdoor benches inside to accommodate those who came to hear Santa Monica poet and www.Poetry.LA co-founder Hilda Weiss, and participate in an open mike reading of their own works.
“Poetry comes alive when it is spoken,” Pero said before the event. “It’s a live art form and I think it really does mean a lot to read it.”
Moonday has had a home on the Westside since 2002, when Pero and Jones decided to create a forum for artists and fans to come together and celebrate the poetic process. Though it’s been held in coffee shops and other spots, Moonday West is now located at the independently owned Village Books in Pacific Palisades. The meetings were originally held on Monday nights, which is how the title got its name, though the La Cañada poetry readings will take place at Flintridge Bookstore on either the third or fourth Sunday of each month at 2 p.m.
“Both of us invest time to select the readers who will be featured each month,” said Jones, who is also the host of the show “Poet's Café” on KPFK's Pacifica Radio. “We enjoy a variety of styles and welcome people of all ages — one of our most faithful members of Moonday's audience at Village Books is over 90 years old (and) we have had readers as young as 9. “
Several people who turned out for Sunday’s reading brought material to share during the open mike portion. Their words took listeners on a creative journey through time and space. One woman shared a correspondence between an art lover and the subject of a painting. “Do you dream?” she asked. “Are you waiting for the circumstances to change?” Another poet discussed the sensual experience of speaking with a New Jersey accent.
La Crescenta resident Bob Lignon came with wife Kathryn and brought work to share, though he’s not a poet. “I’m a retired banker,” he clarified, explaining how he began to write after a stroke robbed him of his mathematical prowess. “Part of my recovery was going to writing classes. Poetry is very easy for me; there are rhymes in my head.”
Gail Mishkin, who works part time at Flintridge Bookstore coordinating events and readings, is happy her store can help encourage writers and retired bankers alike.
“Artists don’t have a lot of venues to present their work,” Mishkin said. “That really is one of the quintessential roles of a community, independently owned bookstore — to invite people to come in and share their poetry.”