Parting Lips

On the occasion of our last reading at BUMP Cellars, Sonoma: A chapbook introduction.

Perhaps I’m looking back with rosé-colored glasses, but in my memory, the genesis of the decades-long poetry series memorialized by this chapbook went something like this:

Lisa Summers (as Judy Garland — all puckish moxie), “Hey, let’s put on a show!”

The Rest of Us (as Mickey Rooney — brightening as if from the torpor of a world-class hangover), “Gee, Lisa, that’s a swell idea.”

Except there were more four-letter words and preemptive finger-pointing. There was the possibility that hosting a poetry reading for a lost tribe of bohemians in bougie Wine Country would prove ill-advised. 

For those future literary scholars who have exhumed this volume from some musty corner of the National Archive, let me assure you, it did not prove ill-advised so much as prove that there was a latent longing for poetry—performed live. With wine.

Drunk, Naked Poets, the inaugural event at BUMP Cellars, was a success, not least because at least one poet took its title as a mandate. Biblical-scale disasters and various personal supernovas (and renaissances) have defined the ensuing decade. A reassuring premise throughout, however, has been that poetry somehow prevails.

Admittedly, the branding of our little group was always an issue (like the best garage bands, we never really settled on a name). Ditto any records-keeping besides a smattering of news items and a chapbook here and there. In the end, however, the series ephemeral nature proved its two constants: 

The will to create poetry can overcome all.

Coming to poetry willingly is all over — except in our case!

Time and again, our audiences packed the house, which is as much an endorsement for the rarified taste of our audiences as the poets themselves and, naturally (the third constant), the quality of BUMP’s wine.

Sure, the performances could be wildly uneven—a tear-drenched catharsis one moment, a phone DJ’s utter failure to read the room the next (if you know, you know). In the end, there was poetry, music, and wine in Sonoma, which was a triumph.

But alas, the cellar door must close. 

And thus, so too this chapter in local poetry. 

This is as much an outro as it is an intro, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that The Last Kiss of this era can’t also be the first kiss of the next. So, poetry friends, I entreat you… Pucker up.

The Sonoma Writers’ Workshop celebrates a decade of popular literary events held at Sonoma’s Bump Cellars tasting room with The Last Kiss, a Valentine-themed event marking the 10th year of poetry, music, and readings offered by local wordsmiths. Among them — the usual suspects: AJ Petersen, Lisa Summers, Steve Meloan, Carol Allison, Stacey Tuel, and Jonah Raskin. Steve Shain accompanies the readers on standup bass. Daedalus Howell emcees. 7 pm, Saturday, Feb. 10. Bump Cellars Tasting Room, 521 Broadway Ave., Sonoma. Limited seating. Free.

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