Tales by the Sea turns to poetry

The artists who will appear in Tales by The Sea’s poetry reading on Dec. 5: Top row, left to right, Eduardo Del Signore, Barbara Barron, Bob Curtis, Florence Weinberger, Hope O’Neill and Ricardo Means Ybarra. Bottom row, left to right: Nan Landa, Ellen Reich, Jenn Douglas and Ann Buxie. Photo by Melonie Magruder / TMT

Stories come in many manifestations. So Malibu’s storyteller, Ann Buxie, is refining her next Tales by the Sea concert.

Her usual presentation of prose stories will morph into a celebration of poetry set to improvisational musical accompaniment and recited by mostly Malibu shadow poets.

“I met most of the poets who will be reading at Ellen Reich’s [who will also recite at the concert] emeritus poetry class,” Buxie said in discussing the new format. “Some are published, some are not. But there’s an important difference between professional and amateur. ‘Amateur’ comes from the Latin root for love and these are people who love words. It’s about flights of imagination. It’s fresh flowing.”

The 13 local performers include voices known for talents other than poetry. Susie Duff, a 2007 Dolphin Award recipients, is usually noted for teaching incarcerated youth to tap their creativity through improvisation in her program “Locked Up in Malibu” with the juvenile probation department.

Florence Weinberger, a Malibu resident for almost nine years, said she wrote poetry as a child, but gave it up when she got married to teach school. She didn’t return to poetry until she was in her 60s.

“I’ve written novels and short stories and published some poetry,” Weinberger said. “I’ve loved reading poetry since I was a child. But poetry isn’t really taught in school these days. There used to be oratory classes and you would have to memorize poetry for recitation. Those days are gone.”

Weinberger will be reading several poems, including one titled, “Marrowbones.” She said it has less to so with a Stephen King ethos than with kitchen table issues.

“I find myself writing about whatever draws me at the moment in my environment,” Weinberger said. “It’s what men pejoratively call ‘domestic poetry.’ It’s about family and relationships.”

Reich teaches creative writing for Emeritus College classes at the Malibu Senior Community Center. She has a background as an elementary school teacher, but also has published about 350 poems in various journals. Her books of collected poems, “Reverse Kiss” and “Gynecic Papers,” deal with women’s issues.

She said moving to California in 1971 “brought out the artist” in her and that her local teachers and mentors, like Mark Strand and Kate Braverman, allowed her to find a unique voice.

“The important thing I got from Mark Strand was the importance of doing your own editing,” Reich said. “I believe everyone can write poetry if they want. We all have the talent inside. I like to say I came out of the closet with my poetry here in California.”

Accompanying the poets will be jazz fusion musician Eduardo Del Signore, who first collaborated with Buxie on her dissertation project, “Logo Synthesis: Remembering a Relationship with Nature.” They recorded sounds in nature, like cicadas at dusk or river water. Del Signore added instrumentation and a friendship was born.

“It was my first spoken word project,” said Del Signore, who has worked with artists as diverse as Jon Anderson of Yes, Dionne Warwick and Vangelis. “We had one rehearsal, but I like to improvise and we want it to sound fresh.”

Del Signore usually plays electric bass, but will be accompanying the poets with guitar and some percussion. “With spoken word, you have to find that space when time stops and it’s a moment that’s enjoyable for everyone,” he said. “There’s a communion that goes beyond just listening. Some people call it magical, I call it natural.”

Though Buxie plans to return to her old storytelling format of the past, she is excited about this new venture with poetry.

“Usually poetry readings feature only three or four voices and that can get tedious,” Buxie said. “So we thought of using many of our talented voices in Malibu. Besides, this is sort of a poetry potluck. We’ll be serving great food before and after, so if you don’t like the poetry, you can stay for the food.”

“An Evening of Accompanied Poetry” takes place Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $10. Seating is limited and reservations can be made by contacting Ann Buxie at 310.457.2385, or Ellen Reich at 310.457.3585, who will then provide directions to the venue.