A poetic celebration of life held at Malibu Bluffs Park

Malibu poets Barbara Burke (left on bench) and Susie Duff (right on bench) listen to poetry after they have read their poetry to the group at the Summer Jubilations event at Malibu Bluffs Park on Aug. 10.

Malibu Bluffs Park welcomed poetic enthusiasts to the Summer Jubilations event on Aug. 10. The event was a plein air poetry event that celebrated the joys and miracles of life on Earth. Local poets and readers shared poems from well-known poets as well as shared some original poems.

The event was hosted by Malibu Poet Laureate Ann Buxie in partnership with the Malibu Arts Commission. 

The Wednesday evening event began with a word from Buxie, who welcomed the crowd to the park and wished them a pleasant experience of listening to poems. She said she was happy to see people outdoors enjoying the nice weather and enjoying art together.

Buxie said she believes that events like these are important in strengthening the bonds between members of the community. She expressed the belief that society has been broken and has created divides among people, but she believes art and poetry is a way for community members to unite through shared passion.

“It’s an opportunity to increase understanding, it’s an opportunity for us to get to know one another,” Buxie said. “We need to rebuild and we need to do that individually and in concert, together.”

The event was then led by three poem readers who began with the works of American poet, Carl Sandburg. 

Featured readers Barbara Burke, Nathan Hassall, and Susie Duff each read poems by Sandburg, featuring his poem “Timesweep.” 

The readers then each took the mic individually and shared their thoughts on the poems. 11-year-old Kona Shorr shared her original poem “Nightlight.”

Following the featured readers, an open mic session was offered for any audience member who wished to share a poem.

Audience member Tracy Katz volunteered and shared her original poem “I See.”

Katz, who is a writer and a teacher of creative writing for senior writing groups at the Calabasas Senior Center, said she was excited about being a part of the event. She said she felt a feeling of community with those who attended the event.

“When you read your work aloud in this setting, you share a part of yourself,” Katz said. “People get to get closer to you, but it may also build a connection to something they may be feeling too, that’s the gift in reading your work aloud.”

She said events like these are important to the Malibu community because they bring people together and give people a sense of positivity.

“It promotes creativity, supports community and especially since rising out of COVID, it brings people out of a place of isolation,” Katz said.

After the open mic session, Buxie invited photographer Peter C. Jones to the mic, where he introduced himself and spoke about his photography book, “Jungle Stories.” The book features a series of original poems by Jones entitled “Asphalt Jungle 1-6.”

The event was closed by readers Hassall and Duff, who read the six “Asphalt Jungle” poems from Jones’s book.  

Duff, who is also an actress and director, also believes events like Summer Jubilations are important in building a stronger Malibu community.

“We need to be brought together in any way we possibly can,” Duff said. “One of the biggest complaints about ‘Malibuland’ is that it’s so isolated, so any event that can bring any of us together will always be a gift.”

“We missed you,” Duff said about residents she wished could have attended the event.

This event was the last Summer Jubilations event of the year, as the next poetry event pivots to the Malibu Library and begins the Caffeinated Verse poem series on Sept. 24.

Buxie encouraged Malibu residents to continue to attend poetry events hosted by the Malibu Arts Commission.

She was excited to share the news that a poetry path will soon be added to Legacy Park as part of the Verse About Town project. She encouraged aspiring poets to get in contact with the Malibu Arts Commission to share their work with the community and be a part of future events.

“We want you to find us, but if you don’t find us, we’ll find you,” Buxie said.