Humor Highlights Poetry Reading at Santa Monica’s Annenberg Beach House

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By Zina Markevicius Kinrade

August 15, 2014 -- With his suspenders and red St. Louis cap, William Trowbridge looks more like the owner of a Midwestern hardware store than a poet.

But when he took the stage at the Annenberg Beach House Tuesday night, Trowbridge managed to deliver on the image with “Mr. Fix It,” a poem about his father, who was hopelessly inept with tools.

Poetry ReadingWilliam Trowridge recites his poetry in the Annenberg Beach House. Photos by Zina Markevicius Kinrade. The poet laureate of Missouri, Trowbridge was one of four poets from across the country who read their works to a crowd of about 50 gathered for the latest installment of the City of Santa Monica’s Beach Culture series.

And with themes spanning from Facebook to death and the musings of King Kong, the program offered by the non-profit literary press Red was an eclectic mix of the traditional and surprising.

In “Mr. Fix It,” Trowbridge, who is the author of The Complete Book of Kong, painted a vivid picture of a man entangled in electrical cords and embarrassed in front of his family.

The poem did not mock, but rather honored his father’s struggle with comparisons to Greek gods, while Trowbridge’s unassuming delivery made his humor all the more striking.

Dana Levin balanced dark subjects with humor as well. Her well-paced poem “Banana Palace” was inspired by a cross section of a banana under a microscope on Facebook.

Levin’s goal was to explain to a future, post-apocalyptic world how social media has affected interpersonal relations. The Santa Fe resident also shared her obsession with death following the death of her parents in 2002.

Poetry Reading
Dana Levin injects humor in her poems
Poetry Reading
Cynthia Hogue performs her poetry.

An unusual example was “Spring,” about the university research center in Knoxville dedicated to the study of human decomposition. “

After a whole book of that, you would think I’d want to write about flowers and bacon, but I got interested in the apocalypse,” deadpanned Levin, whose cheerful explanations of her work lightened the serious tone.

Also focused on decline was Cynthia Hogue. She grew up in Gloversville, New York, and her poem on the town’s depressing degeneration exemplified her social and political themes of slow but inevitable destruction.

Poetry Reading Jodi Johnson is a regular romantic.

Poet Jodi Ann Johnson’s readings focused on her love of horses and romantic, dreamy memories of family and nature.

In the four-part poem “The Sale,” the poet described how a woman keeps a piece of her soul safe and private as the world tries to rip it away.

Johnson,who sported fashionable high heels and a tight black dress out of “Desperate Housewives,” lives in Topanga Canyon and shared that she bought her first home from the late Robin Williams decades ago.

The four poets kept to strict time limits of no more than 15 minutes.


The intent was to offer an event appealing to casual observers, according to Red Hen’s managing editor Kate Gale, and in response to the group’s last reading, which ran long.

Upcoming events at the beachside venue include a reception with photographers who captured images at the city’s Glow displays on August 14th and a rueda salsa dance workshop on August 26th.

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