What the Green Poets of Venice reveal when they meet each Tuesday

by Nita Lelyveld

From: L.A. Times

la-me-green-poets-of-venice-pictures-009 (1)The Green Poets of Venice appreciate the power in a pause.

They save space in their lives to contemplate. They write. Each week they meet to share the carefully chosen words they’ve distilled from their thoughts and experiences.

Now in its 14th year, their poetry workshop started in an adult education class at Santa Monica College. The students, while learning about great poems, were encouraged to write their own. Since it was new to them, instructor Bill Robertson labeled them “green.”

When the class was cut, Robertson continued guiding his poets for free. When he retired to Florida, they kept at it without him.

A few of the originals are among those who gather each Tuesday at the old Venice City Hall — in the bookstore of Beyond Baroque, a literary and arts center on Venice Boulevard. Newcomers are welcome too. The age range spans more than 50 years.

As the poets arrived one recent morning, flowers swayed in the fog-wet ocean breeze. Gary Spain, one of the workshop members, stood under an arch on the red front steps, wearing a beret and tapping a foot to the Irish tunes he played on his violin.

Steve Goldman, wearing shorts and a shiny gold cardboard crown, was on his way inside when he paused to jump in on the harmonica.

Most of the Green Poets see one another just one time a week.

But they’ve grown close as they’ve put voice to the private and dredged-up long-buried memories. In discussing line breaks and meters, they’ve often shared much more.

They’ve reflected on, and tried to make sense of, their ever-changing worlds.

“It’s become my second family. It’s very important to me,” said Selma Benjamin, a former librarian who at 96 is the group’s oldest regular member.

She and her late husband, Alfred, had joined together about a decade ago. Sometimes in the workshop they’d read love poems they’d written to each other, said Laurel Gord, 63. The Benjamins and the group’s other nonagenarians have been an inspiration to her.

“It’s so reassuring when I think, as I often do now, about aging,” Gord said.

On this morning, 18 people gathered around a long wooden table. Greg Bell, 68, was presiding, gently guiding the flow.

A “recovering actor” and archery coach who used to play Shakespeare at the Renaissance Faire, Bell said he got serious about writing after a brush with death six years ago. Read Rest of Article Here.

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