Ann Buxie has been bringing creative written and spoken words to the Malibu community for more than 25 years through her free Poetry by the Sea and Tales by the Sea programs, so it seemed only fitting that she should be the city’s next poet laureate, serving a two-year term from 2021-23 as Malibu’s “official consultant in poetry.”
“Being named poet laureate has stimulated me to step up and grow into myself,” Buxie said in a phone interview. “I decided it was time to take on the challenge.”
Buxie is looking forward to expanding the city’s new Verse About Town program, which posts poems in glass frames in various public areas around town, including shopping centers and parks.
“We need conversation stimulated today, and to bring poetry into our daily conversations,” she said. “If there’s a poem you can come together and talk about [after seeing it posted in the town], then we’ve achieved our goal.”
Buxie’s ongoing Tales by the Sea programs, held quarterly at the Malibu West Swim Club, consistently draw a “sold-out” crowd (technically not “sold” out, because the events are free). What started off as a much smaller and more sporadic event in 1995 has evolved greatly over the years.
Each Tales program lasts about 90 minutes and consists of six or seven adult storytellers from the LA area with diverse backgrounds, each telling a 10-minute-long true life story. There’s always a theme for each event—like “forgiveness”—and always a mix of humorous stories from some tellers and serious stories from others. Since the pandemic, the events have moved online.
The separate Poetry by the Sea events, which Buxie called “poetry concerts,” are held quarterly at Malibu United Methodist Church and organized by Buxie and another local, Ellen Cohen. They select featured poets for each concert and include an open mic portion where people can come up and read one of their own poems, or a selected poem.
“I remember writing poetry when I moved to LA in the ’70s. I submitted poems to New World magazine and the Inner City Cultural Center. Expressing my feelings was important. Poems are stories,” Buxie reflected.
“I graduated high school in Yuma [Arizona] and attended Scripps College in Claremont,” she continued. “Then I met [my future husband] Rick, who’s been a big part of my growth. The person you marry is a huge part of how you grow and what you’re sensitive to. We had our daughter while living in Silver Lake, and moved to Malibu in 1983.”
Since then, Buxie has explored philosophy, theology and spiritualism.
“I began work on my PhD in theology at the age of 55, focusing on Hinduism and Buddhism, which have different images and ways of looking at the world, and I graduated at age 60,” Buxie related. “My friends said, ‘Do something with it!’”
“I found out about [former Malibu Poet Laureate] Ellen Reich’s class in creative writing, and joined it—mostly to write poems,” Buxie said. “The classes were part of the emeritus program at Santa Monica College and I met [other poets and writers] through her from LA and Ventura counties.”
“I wanted to keep thinking and exploring new ideas and the world, so going back to school helped to prepare me for what’s happening now,” she explained.
“I’ve been really studying all different forms of poetry. I used to write freely with no rhymes, but new forms of verse, like in [poetry anthology] The Golden Shovel, are useful in exploring your thought processes. Every different form of poetry allows you to approach your subject differently. Writing workshops like The Write Time are also useful.”
Buxie has had her poetry published in recent years in places like YourDailyPoem.com, The Canyon Chronicle and Wild Roof Journal, and reads her poetry at venues like Tongue & Groove, Café 27 and others.
Buxie is Malibu’s fourth poet laureate, following Ricardo Means Ybarra, the inaugural office holder; the late Ellen Reich; and Dr. John Struloeff.