Thursday, December 17, 2009
father sits at the kitchen table smiling
mother and child are mixing up batter
father feels a poem coming on.
Thus Robert Lewis, former Pacific Grove Cultural Arts Commissioner, envisions a family enjoying the newly remodeled Poetry Perch in Pacific Grove. All it needs now is a poet.
The late Whitney Latham Lechich, a long-time P.G. writer, bequeathed her 1892 cottage to the city for poetry-related uses. Since her passing in 2000, three poets – Weekly contributor Ryan Masters, Kate Spencer and Garland Thompson – have occupied the home.
This year, the city has lifted the low-income requirement for poet-in-residence applicants, allowing the CAC to take the lead in a statewide search. But the rent, at a well-below-market $900 per month plus utilities, is still affordable.
“We can get anyone in the world who qualifies,” CAC chair Laura Emerson says. “We don’t want the rent to interfere with a person coming here.”
The committee used $144,000 of the $165,000 in Latham Lechich’s estate fund to pay off a loan and remodel the house. The former three-bedroom/one-bathroom cottage is now a two-bed/two-bath with a master bedroom and restored flooring.
“It’s a charming house, and now the inside is modernized,” Emerson says. “It’s warm, it’s comfortable, it’s spacious-looking.”
In exchange for subsidized housing, the resident poet agrees to hold at least one small poetry event every month. The poet is also responsible for organizing two larger events per year.
“Poetry is a very fluid art. By creating a literary festival here, we could draw poets from all over the state,” Emerson says.
The search is open to established poets with event production experience. The one-to-two-year residency begins in June 2010.