Friday, May 23, 2008

Open Space Friday #6 - the Next Generation

Ted Pugh was known as the "Pomona Poet." After his death in 1997, a scholarship fund was created in his name at Cal Poly Pomona. Yesterday, I attended an awards luncheon given by the Cal Poly Pomona English and Foreign Languages Department. I was invited as the guest of Lorraine and Cedric Rogers (Ted Pugh's editor and publisher, respectively, but more importantly, his friends).

This year's recipient of the Ted Pugh Scholarship is Meagin Lamson, formerly of Big Bear, currently of Pomona. She wrote the winning poem on a napkin at a jazz club in downtown Los Angeles. The poem can be interpreted as the jazz experience put to paper. Meagin has given me permission to publish the poem here:

Cheesy Knees Shooting Coffee Breath Breeze

Because it is a dirty cup with dirt on it
And I shall be the steamroller turtle
Like a steamroller
Ever so slowly,
Like condensation on your frosted glass
In the light of a flickering candle
And those harsh keys
Plunking black and white
And the shiny brass type air
Thick with pregnant notes
No one can quite understand
Faces with traces of spaces
Looks and stares and alcohol tinged humor
Circular glass rings and all kinds of things
And down dressed up people by all kinds of means
With photographs
With flashes
Like flicker dance candles
And unsure applause for more than deserving content.
For coffee breath
For curly hair
For split fingered nails
And glistening foreheads
For grated cheese
On bowed out knees
All swirling asunder in a new found inner ear

By Meagin Lamson, Copyright 2008.

After the luncheon, Cedric, Lorraine, Meagin and I sat down privately to talk about Ted. Cedric opened up his magic briefcase and let loose a steady stream of photographs, articles, books and stories about Ted (with lots of help from Lorraine, of course). As we spoke, suddenly a fifth voice entered the discussion in the form of a loud thunderstorm and pouring rain. Lorraine voiced my own suspicions when she wondered aloud if Ted might have anything to do with the dramatic weather.

During the course of the morning, I met Liliane Fucaloro, the Department Chair of English and Foreign Languages. Liliane (a native of France) spoke to Cedric (a native of England) and Lorraine (a native of Massachusetts) about setting up an exhibit on campus about Ted Pugh (a native of Pomona). Everyone was excited about this.

We were seated at Liliane's table, and I sat next to Dr. Barbara Way, Dean of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. Both Liliane and Dr. Way seemed intrigued by the description of this blog. They have each been doing their part to change Pomona's negative image. That's Dr. Way pictured above in front of the Latina goddess mural downtown. You can guess why I immediately liked both her and Liliane. Dr. Way is retiring from Cal Poly in August. She is not, however, retiring from her efforts to do good in Pomona. She plans to continue to serve on local community boards here in town.

Congratulations again to Meagin, a nice and thoughtful woman, who the Rogers were certain would meet with Ted's approval.

Click on the Ted Pugh link below to read previous Open Friday posts about him.


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