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Local Poets, Local Inspiration

This week we introduce a new monthly feature: Santa Cruz poets writing about their home.

Santa Cruz may well have more accomplished poets per capita than any other city in the United States. In honor of our city's dedication to the written word, we're pleased to announce Local Poets, Local Inspiration, a new feature that will appear in Street Signs the first week of each month.

Inspired by Garrison Keillor's recent visit to Santa Cruz and his call for poems that catch the unique spirit of Our Town, poet Robert Sward, our newly anointed poetry editor, has invited work from local poets Tilly Shaw, Ellen Bass, David Swanger, Stephen Kessler, Joan Zimmerman and others whose locally inspired work will find a place in these pages.

Out walking in the fog on Westcliff Drive,
everything becalmed and muffled way high up
over the Pacific, when comes a rumbling
and thrumming from afar, soon right upon
us, a whole strip of them winding in and
out of coastal curves, passing us one, two,
three abreast, all black-helmeted and in
dark leather, so of course I think

Hell's Angels, instantly prepare my stormiest
scowl for their mechanized intrusion, mean to
flout this enemy invasion with every mortal
muscle, screwing my eyes into a masterful blast--

When gradually it dawns, under all that armor,
Inside harsh headgear, the scrawny pigtail, a
Slight mounding in front, occasional flagrant
metal chains or gear, every single one of them's
a woman! Whatever can I do but cheer?

--Tilly Washburn Shaw

A resident of Santa Cruz since 1966, Tilly Shaw taught at Rutgers, Yale and UCSC. Now retired, she still writes regularly and enjoys walking on Westcliff Drive.

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