KUSP's Poetry Show

Holocaust Remembrance: guests Swanger, Sward, Weisner, Leash




The Poetry Show for February 1, 2015 was an opportunity to hear participants in an event that occurred last Tuesday. It was an observance of the 2015 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, held at Felix Kulpa Gallery on the 70th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Three of this show’s guests were well-known local poets David Swanger, Robert Sward and Ken Weisner - past Poetry Show guests all. The fourth guest joining host Dennis Morton was Jessica Leash, a student cantor at Chadeish Yameinu Jewish Renewal Community of Santa Cruz. Jessica was one of the organizers of the remembrance event. She shared some background on the Holocaust and efforts to keep its memory fresh and relevant in today’s world. All four guests shared poems – their own and by others – drawing on their Jewish heritage.

Robert Burns birthday reprise


PG_1063Burns_NaysmithcropJanuary 25 is the birthday of Scotland’s favorite poet Robert Burns, and the Poetry Show enjoys a birthday celebration. This year, we employed the podcast time machine to reprise a Burns birthday show from 2008. Dennis Morton, Lesley Anne Taylor and Susan Freeman co-hosted.

The trio were joined in-studio by local master Celtic fiddler Deby Benton Grosjean and friends, because no Scottish celebration is complete without music. The only thing missing was a haggis. Deby has since joined in several of the Poetry Show’s near-annual Burns birthday shows, most recently in 2013.

For those searching for more, there is a comprehensive Robert Burns website containing all of his poems and songs.

Readings: Rattle 45, Poetry Speaks


rattle-45-fall-2014For the first half of the January 18, 2015 Poetry Show, host Dennis Morton read selections from the latest issue of Rattle, one of our favorite poetry periodicals.

This issue (#45) of the quarterly publication features “41 poets of faith”. Selections we heard (along with accompanying poet autobiographies):

  • Bathtub Baptism, by Leslie Marie Aguilar
  • What Is Faith, After All?, by Carol V. Davis
  • Transfiguration of the Bee Keeper’s Daughter, by Todd Davis
  • Signs and Wonders, by Ted Eisenberg
  • Little Angel, by Albert Haley
  • The Transformation, by Red Hawk
  • I Find It Difficult To Talk To My Bible Friend, by David James
  • What Is My Life About, by Julie Price Pinkerton
  • Stardust, by Colette Tennant





In the second half of this week’s show, we heard early recordings of poets reading their own work, from the book/CD collection Poetry Speaks. This is one of the very best recorded poetry collections, and editor Rebecca Presson Mosby was a guest on the show on March 9, 2014. From the three CD set, we heard some of the earliest recordings, from CD number one.

The poets we heard:

  • Alfred Lord Tennyson 
  • Robert Browning
  • Walt Whitman
  • William Butler Yeats
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Robert Frost

Guest Poets: Atkinson, Ifland, Ortiz, Weisner


4 poets

The Poetry Show welcomed four local poets into the studio on January 11, 2015. The four were Chuck Atkinson, Alta Ifland, Lisa Allen Ortiz and Ken Weisner. The occasion calling for a gathering of these four at this time was an upcoming reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Tuesday, January 13. Sponsored by Poetry Sana Cruz, this reading features local writers.

All four poets shared poetry and thoughts on a variety of subjects, providing an enticing preview of the upcoming reading event. Plus, all four are veteran Poetry Show guests, appearing both solo and with others as in this case. From the Poetry Show archives:

Readings: Rhino, Rich, Marcus, Staying Alive


07 - for-rhino-frontThe Poetry Show began 2015 with a selection of favorites, old and not so old. First off: two more poems from a beautifully produced book titled, For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology of Poetry. This collection was previously featured on the December 7, 2014 Poetry Show, calling attention to the imminent extinction of the African rhinoceros. Host Dennis Morton read poems by Pascale Petit and Denis Hirson.






The next segment of the show was a recollection of the poetry of Morton Marcus (1936-2009). Known here especially as a long-time host of the Poetry Show, the prolific and beloved Marcus continues to exert an influence on the local poetry scene through his memory and his work. Dennis read a number of selections from the Marcus catalog.

04 - Staying Alive cover



Continuing the theme of “favorites”, Dennis read several selections from his favorite modern poetry anthology, Staying Alive, edited by Neil Astley. Poets included Ruth Stone, Chase Twitchell, Seán Ó Ríordáin, James Wright and James Dickey.


A Rich - CD cover




A poem by Lawrence Joseph, titled Under a Spell, served as an introduction to several poems by Adrienne Rich (1929-2012). Through the miracle of recording, Adrienne Rich was allowed to read the poems herself for this week’s Poetry Show. We heard several selections from a favorite CD, titled Voice of the Poet: Adrienne Rich.


Anika Narayanan, guest poet


28 - 2015Two years ago, Anika Narayanan was guest poet on the last Poetry Show of 2012. She had the distinction, at that time, of becoming the youngest (age 15 1/2) guest poet ever to visit the show. Almost exactly two years later, Anika returned as the guest of host Dennis Morton for the last Poetry Show of 2014. Had this been her first Poetry Show visit, she would still be the youngest guest poet ever. Two years is a long time for a teenager and interests come and go, but Anika has continued to study and write poetry so it’s interesting to hear what’s been happening in the world of a young poet.

28 - coyote



In the first half of the show, Anika shared some of her own recent poems. For the second half-hour, Anika and Dennis took turns reading some favorites by other poets, including Mary Oliver, Juanita Brunk, Sylvia Plath, Ted Kooser, Dan Gerber, Pablo NerudaRuth Stone and Lew Turco.


Just as we reprised Anika’s visit from the end of 2012, let’s end 2014 by paraphrasing the end of the blog post from the end of 2012:

It’s been a great 2014 on the KUSP Poetry Show, and the third full year of the Poetry Show blog. Happy New Year to all of our listeners/readers – join with us in looking forward to a mindful and poetic 2015.

Poet Speak: A Platform For Local Poets


On December 21, 2014, the Poetry Show turned its radio spotlight on a long-running local poetry venue called Poet Speak. Host Dennis Morton welcomed a trio of local poets who have intimate knowledge of the subject. Robin Lysne, Darrell Darling and Dan Philips share the distinction of having been featured reader at one or more Poetry Speak sessions. The three came to the KUSP studio to share and discuss some of their poems with Dennis.

Poetry Speak meets monthly at the downtown Santa Cruz Public Library. Here’s the January announcement from the Poetry Santa Cruz events page:


William Greenwood, guest poet


POSTER_20AHost Dennis Morton welcomed farm worker educator/organizer and poet William (Bill) Greenwood to the Poetry Show on Sunday evening, December 14, 2014. His new poetry collection is titled Landscape/Cityscape. Bill read and discussed a number of poems from the new book, and also shared stories of his adventurous life of social work and education, first with farm workers in California and later in many other countries around the world.

The new chapbook’s title,  Landscape/Cityscape, was inspired by a painting called Cityscape 1, by artist Richard Diebenkorn. A reproduction of the painting graces both the cover of the book and this post.

William Greenwood has one earlier published poetry collection, titled Into the Center of America, and even before that partnered with former Poetry Show host Stephen Kessler in a poetry translation project. Bill translated from Spanish to English and edited a bi-lingual edition of poetry by the Guatemalan poet Arqueles Morales (used copies still available).


Readings, Rhinos, Recordings


07 - for-rhino-frontIn the first half of the December 7, 2014 Poetry Show, host Dennis Morton read introductory material and poetry from a book titled, For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology of Poetry. Book sales benefit the Chipembere Rhino Foundation.

The lavishly illustrated book’s list of contributors includes 108 poets. Dennis promises a return to this anthology for a future Poetry Show, but there was only time this week for an introductory few.


  • The Rock, by Elisabeth Gowans
  • Eyona Indala, by Harry Owen
  • Lord of Life, by Norman Morrissey
  • I Am Rhino, by Wendy Wallace
  • Tomorrow Never Comes, by John Mhongovoyo
  • The Rhino Speaks, by Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
  • In Your Hands, by Ruth Woudstra


 07 - CD coverThe second half of this Poetry Show broadcast featured a CD titled The Knopf National Poetry Month Collection (2006). This particular CD was chosen for inclusion in this week’s show because it contains several readings by Mark Strand who, as noted on last week’s show, recently died at the age of 80. From the publisher:

Since 1998, the Alfred A. Knopf Publishing Group has celebrated National Poetry Month™ by emailing a poem-a-day throughout the month of April to over 25,000 devoted poetry fans. In April 2006, Knopf introduced the Poem-a-Day podcast, which featured poets including Kevin Young and James Merrill reading their own poems, as well as Knopf authors such as Joan Didion and Toni Morrison reading work by their favorite poets. 

To celebrate National Poetry Month™ 2007, Random House Audio has gathered a selection of the April 2006 Knopf Poem-a-Day podcasts into one outstanding audio collection. In addition to the all-star lineup of poets and celebrity readers included in Knopf’ s podcasts, this program also features exclusive bonus track recordings of Donald Justice, Franz Wright, Frank O’ Hara and Mark Strand reading their own work.

Readings: Strand, Wolpe


30 - Mark StrandThe first half of the november 30, 2014 Poetry Show was a tribute to Canadian-American poet Mark Strand, who died on Saturday at the age of 80. Host Dennis Morton read a number of poems from Strand’s Collected Poems (2014). The National Book Foundation introduction says:

“Gathered here is a half century’s work by the former poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner whose haunting and exemplary style has influenced an entire generation of American poets.”


The show’s second half was a marked departure in many ways from the poetry of Mark Strand.

30 - SholehSholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-American poet whose words we hear from a CD called The Scar Saloon. According to Wolpé’s website, the poems are  ”performed by Sholeh Wolpé to ancient and modern Persian music”. The Poetry Foundation writes:

“Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender. So many of Wolpé’s poems deal with the violent situation in the Middle East, yet she is ready to both bravely and playfully refuse to let death be too proud.”