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Thursday, April 9, 2015

“Poetry & Cookies” at Senior Center April 25

main_image_thelmareynaBuilding on the foundations created in the past 12 years in the “Poetry & Cookies” programs of the Altadena Library District, the annual Poetry & Cookies Anthology has been revamped with a new title, new format, and a broader base of published poets. Now called the Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015 in this debut year, the anthology will be released to the public this month.

Most of the published poets will participate in the “13th Annual Poetry & Cookies Reading Event” to be held on Saturday, April 25 from 2-4:00 p.m. at the Altadena Senior Center. The reading, free to the public, is a community tradition that formally kicks off the release of the annual anthology. Although the anthology itself has been renamed, the community reading event, which annually brings together poetry lovers from across the region, maintains its name in recognition of its literary tradition.

The Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015 will be on sale at this event. Poets who wish to do so will be available for autographing their poems in purchased books if requested to do so. The anthology, 180 pages long, the lengthiest annual edition in this program’s history, will be offered at the special event price of $12, including tax. The cover price is $14.95 plus tax.

A record-breaking 80 poets from Altadena, Pasadena, and the greater Los Angeles area submitted over 200 poems for publication consideration. Of the 60 poets selected, 3 are Poets Laureate, and about a dozen are award-winning writers. The poets are multi- culturally diverse, and the 105 poems in the book represent a broad variety of styles: traditional, unrhymed, short, long, humorous, poignant, political, inspirational, experimental, and, as the book’s Foreword states, “everything in between.”

The anthology was edited, formatted, and produced by Thelma T. Reyna, the Altadena Library District Poet Laureate, 2014-2016. Dr. Reyna, as one of her Poet Laureate projects, agreed to shepherd the anthology from “ground zero” through publication following the retirement of Pauline Dutton, Head Librarian of the Altadena Library, and longtime overseer of the Poetry & Cookies Anthology and all its related programs. A professional editor and writing consultant, Dr. Reyna worked closely with a Submissions Committee to review each submitted poem and make the final selections for publication.

The Submissions Committee, all local-area published poets, met with Dr. Reyna for over 27 hours in 6 intensive meetings in January and February to read, discuss, and carefully consider each poet’s submissions. Committee members were Tim Callahan, Gloriana Casey, Elsa J.M. Seifert, Brian Thorpe, and Lori Wall-Holloway. Pauli Dutton and Gerda Govine Ituarte also participated in the selection process.

The front cover of the anthology includes a brief blurb by one of America’s most famous poets: the 2013 United States Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco. His full blurb inside the book states: “Showcased here are sixty voices with all their varied artistry, wisdom, experiences, and insights; they demonstrate how poetry is essential to our individual lives and collectively at the center of our societal concerns.”

“Altadena has been a supportive, giving community in the overall Poetry & Cookies program,” states Dr. Reyna. “Pauli Dutton has been superb in her stewardship and leadership of the annual anthology and the reading event for the past 12 years. She’s a very tough act to follow.”

Crediting the Friends of the Altadena Library with consistent supportiveness of the Poetry & Cookies program for more than a decade, Dr. Reyna added: “The Friends have provided ‘seed money’ for the publication of this annual endeavor. They did so again this year and have shown their support with publicity and helping with the reading event.”

Reyna added that Altadena Public Library staff and community volunteers have, in the past, been integral in the production of the anthologies and reading events. “For 12 years, this literary project could not have happened without the work of so many dedicated poetry lovers. Altadena has shown what a community is capable of when it comes together in a common cause.”

“Change is inevitable,” says Reyna. “But though we’ve moved to a new anthology name, new format, and a new process of submitting, selecting poems, and producing the book, we still focus on what has made this program successful for so long: our mutual love of poetry and determination to keep poetry alive as the integral element it is in any civilization.”

The Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015 can be ordered online through www.amazon.com or through Golden Foothills Press at www.GoldenFoothillsPress.com . For a discounted price from now until April 25, contact Dr. Reyna at Thelma.reyna@ymail.com.

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