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Benicia: Love Poetry Capital—Or Not

How Views Vary on The Historic Love Story

Joel Fallon has prepared a proclamation to submit to the city council, naming Benicia as the Love Poetry Capital of California.  He’s rallying for the cause by visiting various groups in town. A bit of explanation--

Maria Concepción Argüello was fifteen when she met Nikolai Rezanov, the visiting head of a Russian expedition to Alaska. (A bit older than her to say the least.) They fell in love. He returned to Russia to ask the tsar’s permission to marry her, however somewhere along the line, Nikolai died. Maria never married and eventually went into a nunnery. 

From this story, and from the work of Joel Fallon, a former poet laureate of Benicia, a love poetry contest has evolved, with over 200 entries last year. It’s now open to entries for this year (details to follow).

When Joel talked to me about this, he pointed out that Elko, Nevada has a national cowboy poetry gathering and thousands of people come. Could our love poetry contest draw thousands of people to Benicia? In so doing, these folks would rent hotel rooms, eat at local restaurants, and shop in local stores, thereby spending money here. You get the picture.

Now, I admit to a level of skepticism about this. The entire culture of Elko is about cowboys and the west. Gilroy has a garlic festival because that’s where they grow garlic.

It felt to me that our claim to being the Love Poetry Capital of California was a bit more tentative. (Especially after the bordellos were mentioned: what do they have to do with love, I asked. That’s when it was clear to me that men and women have different views on the subject of love.)

I brought the subject up at breakfast with my women friends, some of whom were less than enamored with this old love story.

“She was fifteen! He was three or four times as old!”

Men are more romantic than women. They want to think that women would rather pine away the rest of their lives than, say, move on to another guy.

A discussion ensued about pining and how long it could/should/would last. I don’t think there was anyone at the table that would pine for, well forever.

But be that as it may, several of the women did see a future for Benicia being the Love Poetry Capital of California.

They suggested, perhaps putting up a big tent next to the Benicia Historical Museum where the winners of the contest are read. Have a kissing booth. Maybe match.com would like to have a booth. Have a love limerick contest—the one that was quoted was a bit ribald to repeat here.

Well, it would draw attention to poetry. I’d like it for that.

Details about the Love Poetry Contest are available at the Benicia Library Site: http://benicialibrary.llwip.org/poet

Robert Livesay October 20, 2012 at 03:28 PM
You are right Peter but it is many who are overly tired of left -wing tripe. I am of seven generations of Californians and I do remember Ronald Reagan as a two time Gov. Peter your issue is with me and my politics only nothing else. Peter I will not get off this issue until I see some of the folks like yourself explain why you will not denounce the Poet Laureate for his shameful and disrespectful remarks about the American Flag. "silly, tricolored rag"is how the former Poet Laureate discribed the flag. You will not not address that issue only Bob Livesay and his conservative politics. Peter I do not owe an apology to Bobbie Richardson it is he who owes the apologies for his continual very foolish remarks about others. . Peter you are the one that shows no respect for others not me. Think about it and go back and review all your on-line comments. You will find that they are not very nice in many cases. The residence would love to hear you denounce the former Poet Laureats remarks about the American Flag. Peter can you do that? Military coffins draped in an American Flag and you wil not denounce the Former Poet Laureates remarks. Peter I at least have the courage to speak up about the comment and will not let it go. My flag is waving at my house. It represents a lot to me and many Americans. I would like to include you Peter but not until you denonuce the former poet Laureates remarks. Remember this comment: "silly, tricolored rag"
Robert Livesay October 20, 2012 at 04:34 PM
"silly, tricolored rag" is not a comment than anyone should just brush off. The American Flag sits atop the White House, draps our fallen heros coffins, Fort McHenry {you all know the Star Spangled Banner} and many other places. It is not a stupid emotion about a rag in the wind as the former Poet Laureate also descripes our American Flag. As I have said I find these comments shameful and disrespectful of not only the flag but all the residents of this fine city. It is not about politics it is about the respect for our flag and country. Some seem to wish to remain silent and hide behide their poetry. I know all about freedom of speech but as I have said before it can come with consequences. I am very disappointed with some in this city who would defend this statrement. Yes i know freedom of speech. Look at the President and VP they both have an American Flag pin as do most elected officials. It seems they all repect the American Flag. You nay sayers stand up and be counted and denounce this shameful statement. Who is going to be first?
Robert Livesay October 20, 2012 at 04:34 PM
"silly, tricolored rag" is not a comment than anyone should just brush off. The American Flag sits atop the White House, draps our fallen heros coffins, Fort McHenry {you all know the Star Spangled Banner} and many other places. It is not a stupid emotion about a rag in the wind as the former Poet Laureate also descripes our American Flag. As I have said I find these comments shameful and disrespectful of not only the flag but all the residents of this fine city. It is not about politics it is about the respect for our flag and country. Some seem to wish to remain silent and hide behide their poetry. I know all about freedom of speech but as I have said before it can come with consequences. I am very disappointed with some in this city who would defend this statrement. Yes i know freedom of speech. Look at the President and VP they both have an American Flag pin as do most elected officials. It seems they all repect the American Flag. You nay sayers stand up and be counted and denounce this shameful statement. Who is going to be first?
DDL October 20, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Bob, Shelby has a Constitutional right to make such comments; however, having a right and exercising that right are different things. His comment shows disdain and contempt for the country that has provided the opportunity for him to live relatively unfettered. He also displays arrogance and contempt for the feelings of others, indicating he simply does not care if others find his comment offensive. In general Americans try to not only respect the rights of others, but also their feelings. Examples: the displaying of the Confederate flag is becoming increasingly rare or the Nazi flag which is almost never seen. This is done for a number of reasons, including respect for those who suffered under those symbols as well as the contempt held for those who would promote that for which those flags once stood. It is lost on Shelby that it was the Stars and Stripes that was pivotal in destroying the governments that promoted those ideologies. He chooses to be selective in his targets, in part I suspect because he takes some small pleasure in the rise obtained from his actions. I would encourage you to not give in to that. I would encourage you to continue to see the many good things for which our flag stands, let Shelby see the flag through his selective lenses, as no comments made here will dissuade him. I would hope that the City will refuse to grant him any further honors as his opinion, on this subject, is offensive to a significant number of people in this town. DDL
Peter Bray October 20, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Mr. Livesay: What's seven generations of Californians got to do with anything? My family has been on this planet just as long, occupying several diverse countries, so did you help remove the Native Americans and the early Mexican pioneers too, and the Russian explorers also? See how you always attempt to elevate your twitty, insecure self to the pompous broadcaster you think you are? Deal with Bob Shelby's freedom of speech, Mr. Livesay, and then return to the 1960's where you apparently must have had a coronary with all the flag and draft card burners...then apologize to Mr. Bobby Richardson, for your juvenile remarks of last week. Your pomposity only exceeds your autocratic self-importance...Our flag in our front yard flies just as high as yours and always has...You relish the controversy you attempt to stir up, but it's a trivial pursuit, you have no authority over anyone but your own soul and your mouth and your attitude. Good luck with all three. Peter Bray, Benicia, CA
Robert Livesay October 20, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Simple question Peter. Do you support the comment made by the former Poet Laureate? Please answer that question. It would clear things up at once.
Peter Bray October 20, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Mr. Livesay: Your arrogance at rebuttal is impolite, dull-witted, and arrogant. I will not subscribe to your horse exhaust for that's all it is, and I repeat: If you don't like Mr. Bob Shelby's exercise of his freedom of speech, take it up with him...I think your comments regarding Bobby Richardson last week were juvenile and atrocious and since you have chosen not to apologize for them, I can only conclude you are a preferential hypocite. Go water your mule, I will not help you circle your wagons. Your comments all last year were misogynistic concerning Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, but few rallied around your campfire...nor attempted to curtail YOUR freedom of speech. And she prevailed despite you and she won! Boorish at best Mr. Livesay, juvenile and boorish. Good luck with your life and value choices. Peter Bray
Robert Livesay October 20, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Very clear you will not answer. So we all now know where you stand. In support of the former Poet Laureate and his remarks. It also appears Peter you support Bobbie Richardson and his remarks on a daily bases about others. I see you have not asked anyone else for an apology. Just Bob Livesay. So you for sure are just attacking me because of my political beliefs. That is all it is. Anti Bob Livesay because he is a Conservative. I suggest you look at all the recent polls on the Presidential election. That way when Romney wins you can attack the entire nation. Go Romney
Robert Livesay October 21, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Peter Bray you appear to think it is OK to call the VP candidate Ryan a "Pizza deliever kid on his fat-tired Schwimm or Palin a joke. Now is that ok when Peter Bray resorts to name calling. Oh I forget Peter is a Liberal and they can say what they want. Peter there are many more name calling remarks you have made. I suggest you just quit before it goes any further. You will lose this one big time.
Robert Livesay October 28, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Who says you can use the language better? I am not angery. I am very disappointed that the poet group did not stand up and say they do not support that statement by the former poet laureate. Remember he was approved by the city counciil to represent this city. I do not think you serve your group or this community by taking the stance that you better use the language. I find that very condescending. Do you speak for your group?. Are you the person of record for comments or is the current poet laureate? I have no respect for your group. I am very sorry to say that. It could have been prevented. Tell the former poet laureate his statemernt was shameful and disrespectful. If your group does not say that I would assume they all feel the same way they believe what he said. I would not want to be part of a group that will not stand up for the American Flag. It is without a doubt shameful.
Frances Jackson October 28, 2012 at 03:10 AM
The meaning of that sentence was, "we can better use the language..." - but clearly, I cannot say what I mean either, even in conciliation. I did not speak for anyone but myself, and I wish I hadn't.
Peter Bray October 28, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Mr. Livesay: You find offense with anyone who doesn't subscribe to your conservative, "poor me, victim" mindset and you are condescending to all after labeling others as "socialists" and "cry babies." Your remarks about Bobby Richardson last week were toilet-laden, shameful, and foul. Mr. Shelby speaks for himself, and whether or not anyone responds to your provocation should show you the relative importance of your whinings in the community. We heard your bellyaching about Mayor Patterson for a full year and the rest of us, her supporters, were called "enviro-greenies, liberals, and socialists." You wouldn't know a socialist if he or she stood up and bit your pants leg. You whine about your politics as a conservative, why don't you run for Mayor or President of the US and see how many votes you can acquire? No one speaks for Bob Shelby but Bob Shelby. Just like no one claims responsibility for your mutterings, or conservative warblings and "enviro-greenie" name-calling. Where'd you learn such childish banter? Are you an adult or only chronic conservative whiner who garners what attention he can from negativity towards others? How pathetic – When was the last time you did anything positive or constructive for or with others? Your blip is fading from my radar screen, it's trivial and mediocre...enjoy your First Amendment rights, but I suggest eliminating your "holier than thou" oratory, I see no Moses mantle on your forehead...Peter Bray
Riley Willerson October 28, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Robert you are stressing yourself out, Tri Colored Rag, if that is what the Poet Laureate believes, so be it, it really is his or her choice, I do not agree with it, but that is my choice, and if used in the content of a poem, which is art Robert, then you better start asking questions about many works of art that deal with the flag or Christ, or how one sees the world. You are spending way too much time asking is others agree to prove a point to who? You appear very close minded about all other ways of thought, as in the only right way is Roberts way, very shallow Robert, this makes your world very small.
Robert Livesay October 28, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Riley you are smarter than that. It was not spoken in the content of a poem. It is his belief. I belive in free speech and also do not believe in censorship. As I have said freedom of speech does come with consequences. We have all seen what statements can do to political candidates, actors and many others. This is not shallow, if it was then the rape statement by a political candidate would not have gotten all the attention it did. I will stand by my feelings that the statement about the American Flag was disrespectful. I do not care if anyone agrees with that statement. But I do care that folks would not stand up and denounce the statement. I have no problem what people believe. But at the same time Riley it should be known. I do believe I have made that clear. Also at the same time the residents have found out how others feel. They all can make their own decisions. I have made mine and I do not like that statement. If I was stressed out over this or any thing else I would not be the age I am.
Robert Livesay October 28, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Peter Bray you are of no importance to me. Just a cry baby protecting your poet group. Peter the difference between me and others is I will state my feelings, opinions and have no fear of what people think or say. It is very apparent Peter you read everything I write. So I did accomplish my mission.
Robert Livesay October 28, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Peter Bray you are correct about my statement about Bobbie Richardson. It was as you said. There was a reaqson I made that statement. Because Peter Bray you have never denounced Bobbie Richardson when he called me and others racist. Plus his poems about me and others that were over the top. You seem to think that was ok. But if Bob Livesay makes an over the top statement Peter Bray will call Bob Livesay on it. Peter you protectect the poet group only and have a personal issue with me. That is Ok. All I would ask of Peter Bray is to be consistent and not one sided. Peter I have gotten my point across as have many others. I will now just let the residents make their own decision on that staement by the former Poet Laureate. Go Romney
Peter Bray October 28, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Mr. Livesay: CORRECTION: I read very little of what you write and will be reading even less, there is NOTHING new there. You are a condescending, backwoods quasi-orator, persistently demeaning others as if you have some autocratic and arrogant feather in your tail, and that demeanment of others is what irritates me the most. I don't give a fig about your politics. Trivial gravel on the road's shoulders is trivial gravel. If you don't like the content of Mr. Shelby's free speech, take it up with Mr. Shelby. Don't attempt to find group fault in your oratory while demeaning others. You are fading from from my radar screen like a gnat's shadow. Try to have a constructive life. The Mayor of Benicia and Obama are doing just fine, as are many of us well over 65 that are still working for a living. Go, Obama! Peter Bray
T. Gunter October 28, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Less we forget the comments the “Motor City Madman” has made: “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November,” “If Barack Obama becomes the next president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” "Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless b**ch." Now good old Ted has his own show on Discovery.
Riley Willerson October 28, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Hey everyone, Bobby Richardson is no different than what you are saying about Robert Livesay. Not that I am supporting his continued taunts and how he is working on blowing a gasket, but Bobby is just as extreme, he is a rude man period. S to be fair, Bobby needs a little reining in himself, or at least acknowledge that he is exactly what he preaches about, Racist to the bone.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 28, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Ok, School is in!!! Definitions: Racist= Individual or Group who dislikes a person or group because of their color/race and has the power to negatively affect that person or groups' life politically or monetarily. Predjudice= Individual or Group who dislikes a person, thing, food, location,clothing, etc, etc and does not have any power(political or monetarily) to affect anything. They just dis-like "Just because" it's human nature. Now that's our lesson for today boys' and girls "and if you didn't know now you know" Now school is out!!! PEACE OUT!!!
Peter Bray October 28, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Dear ALL: These online sessions always deteriorate into a slumber party debate between half informed camps of twits, myself included. I try to avoid them until as a bystander I'm called an "enviro-greenie," a "liberal/socialist," and a "crybaby"...all that coming from pompous, arrogant, and autocratic Mr. Livesay, whose misogynistic comments about Mayor Patterson for over a year were totally disgusting. I can't nor will I police this nonsense to know every incident of juvenile behavior but no one scores as high as Mr. Livesay. I can only guess he's still emotionally 12...and "has miles to go before he sleeps"...Since he thinks my poetry sucks pondwater and he's so high on his own Reptilian Intellectual Chart, that last quote was from Robert Frost, but I doubt that name is even in his right-wing, nutcase vocabulary...Signing off for now, enjoy the smores that Mommy brings, and other stories under the blanket and over the cardtable in the backroom...Peter Bray
Bubba October 28, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Threads end up this way it seems when a particular angry argumentative poster shows up. It is ugly, all you ever see is one thread after another being destroyed by him. Posters try to contribute positive creative information, or topics. Then....soon as one person posts its a fight, rarely on topic. shows their age, grumpy old men...STFU
Peter Bray October 28, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Bubba: "Grumpy old men..." There's the clue, same as Washington, DC, the Congress, and Sacramento, CA...old fossils with their vested interests, lost political power, and dwindling authority in a changing world... so they climb to a small outcropping of rock and attempt to bellow like they used to in a patriarchal world, the women supposed to scatter into the back rooms, the children supposed to hide, be seen and not be heard...the old lion's breath is fetid and cold, and no one cowers to their autocratic noise anymore...and the old wood-burning stove just won't bake sourdough biscuits like it used to, and the hot chili is now cold, in the pot and more than nine days old, and the horse in the barn died 4 years ago, whipped into a lather and put away wet...I am a weed in the corporate concrete, I survived all those mediocre pancakes...I say Go, Obama, he's cleaning up Bush's dysfunctional mess and illegal wars on a credit card quite well, considering the Repubs were a useless SNOW Blanket for the last 3.5 years---PB
Scott Burford October 29, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Livesay: 23 posts on this article. Great job Robert, you managed to use every letter in the alphabet at least once! Bray: 10 posts. Peter, you need to pick up your game. I suggest practicing heavy breathing into a 2 gallon zip lock bag 3 times a day for 3 weeks, and maybe after that, you'll be able to keep up with Mr. Livesay. Bobby Richardson: 3 posts on this article. Come on Bobby, call in for your med refills, read the directions, and get back up on that horse. It's a high horse, so dont fall off on your ascent. Honestly, folks, this is why aliens generally avoid our planet like the plague....they dont want to deal with this mess.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 29, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Very cute Scott...I like it....Keep up the great work!!!
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 29, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Oh, I almost forgot Scott!!! We are already here and are among you. We have been here for quite some time!!
Babaloo October 29, 2012 at 07:04 AM
this seems to be a waste of type. as with the majority of people who live here, they really do not know or care about the meaning of the US flag. They have no respect for those who have fallen before them to allow their freedoms. they have not been taught well by their parents. For if they were they would be more respectful to one of our symbols of freedom. For they do not know what it is like to not be free.
Peter Bray October 29, 2012 at 08:10 AM
Scott: Thanks for your suggestion and tallying, but it was never meant to be a contest. Better an exercise in trivial pursuits. pb
Robert Livesay October 29, 2012 at 02:41 PM
#25 Great comment Babaloo. I do believe I under estimated some of the residence in this fine city. I have not regret for any of my comments
Robert Livesay October 29, 2012 at 02:44 PM
should have been #24, this is #25. I could easily write a 100 cvomments on the flag but this is enough. I got my point across. No disrespect was meant toward anyone

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