Archive for January, 2020

Florence Miller, James M. LeCuyer, and Robin Michel will be featured readers at Poetry at the Bette, at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru Street, in Alameda, on Saturday, January 11, 2020, 7-9 PM. Readings by the featured poets will be followed by an open mic.

James M. LeCuyer and Florence Miller

Florence Miller’s second poetry collection, After Rain a Little Girl Straightening Worms (Raven & Wren Press) was released in 2019 when Florence was 96. Upriver (Shakespeare’s Sisters Press), her first book, was published in 2012. Her work appears in many publications, including Modern Haiku, the Paterson Literary Review, Blue Unicorn, LYNX, Brussels Sprout, Passager, Crazy Ladies and Milvia Street. Florence taught Creating Writing and English at McClymonds High School in Oakland, and the 1972 Emmy-winning film by Allen Willis, Can You Hear Me? Young Black Poets from the Ghetto, is based on her students and their work.

Florence Miller, who lives in Fremont, was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1922. Her family moved to West Orange soon after. Many of Florence’s poems capture the pain and confusion she experienced when her father lost his drugstore and the family their home during the Great Depression. Poet Sara Mithra wrote of Florence’s that “Autobiographical images gleaned from the Great Depression accrue a mythic thickness under Miller’s spare line…”

Poet and writer James M. LeCuyer’s most recently published book is a collection of short fiction, Duck Lessons (Darkhouse Books, 2018). He has also published two collections of poetry, Threnody for Sturgeon, and A Brick for Offissa Pup (Floating Island Press, 1979). One of his poems from the latter expresses his commitment to the poet as activist: “To be a poet / you must…/ place words in the world / through / what burns in you so often / like the flaming heart of Dresden…”

Raven & Wren Press publisher Robin Michel is also a writer and poet whose work can be seen in San Pedro River Review, Rappahannock Review, South 85 Journal, and elsewhere. She belongs to the poetry collectives, Fresh Ink (East Bay) and Wild Women Writing (SF). In 2019, she founded the Raven & Wren Press in order to help “feather a nest” for Florence’s exceptionally fine and moving poetry. “Working with Florence on After Rain a Little Girl Straightening Worms has been an incredible gift and learning experience, and I am profoundly grateful to her.”

Robin Michel at the Daniel Johnston mural in Austin, TX

Poetry at the Bette is hosted by Wulf Losee on the second Saturday of each month at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts. The event showcases local talent, mostly poets and writers but also singer-songwriters, dancers, storytellers, stand-up comedians, and other creatives. After the featured artists open each session, there is a short break, followed by an open mic. For more information, please visit the website: