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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

  Sixth Annual
Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festival

Poetry & Jazz

California Poet Laureate Al Young

Accompanied by bassist Dan Robbins

Gualala Arts Center

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.

Redwood Coast Whale and Jazz Festival logo

Al Young; photo by Joseph Robinson Reigning California Poet Laureate Al Young comes to Gualala Arts Center for a night of poetry and jazz at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, 2008 to kick off the Whale and Jazz Festival and in celebration of National Poetry Month. He will perform accompanied by bassist Dan Robbins.

Born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast near Biloxi, Al Young grew up in the South and in Detroit where he attended the University of Michigan. In 1961 he came to the San Francisco area where he held a variety of colorful jobs - folk singer, disk jockey, medical photographer. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Spanish he became Edward B. Jones, Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford.

Dan Robbins; photo by Al Young Among his many honors he has received Wallace Stegner, Guggenheim, and Fulbright National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the PEN Library of Congress Award for Short Fiction, and two New York Times Notable Book of the Year awards. He has taught poetry and fiction writing at numerous colleges and universities including U.C Berkeley, U.C. Davis, Rice, the University of Washington, and the University of Michigan.

Prolific and multi-faceted, Al Young has written for many publications including the Paris Review, Rolling Stone, and the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature. He has written film scripts for Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor. Recent projects include a novel, a verse account of Lord Byron's romance with Lady Caroline Lamb, a screen adaptation of his 1998 novel Seduction by Light, a collection of dialogues on the current state of democracy in America inspired by Langston Hughes' Simple Speaks His Mind.

This event is sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from the James Irvine Foundation, by other grants from foundations and individuals, Gualala Arts and Friends of Coast Community Library. His appearance marks the fourth year Friends of Coast Community Library has brought an important poet to the coast. Previously, Philip Levine, Jane Hirshfield and ruth weiss have participated in this annual gift to the community.

Also performing will be notable local poets including Fionna Perkins, the Poet Laureate of Point Arena; Blake More, who has performed her poetry at past Whale & Jazz Festivals, was the coordinator of Poetry & Jazz in '06 & '07 and recently published godmeat, a collection of her work; Janet DeBar, whose work appears in "Wood, Water, Air and Fire, the Anthology of Mendocino Women Poets;" Stephen Kessler, a distinguished poet and editor of the quarterly Redwood Coast Review and local 17-year-old high school senior, Natalie Cox.

Donations gratefully accepted. Light snacks and a no-host beer/wine bar will be available.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.