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Past Poet Laureates

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Congratulations to Linda Toren

 Calaveras County Poet Laureate

2022-2024 

Contact: calaveraspoet@gmail.com

Sponsored by Calaveras County Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Calaveras County Library are pleased to announce Linda Toren as Calaveras County’s 2022-24 Poet Laureate.


Linda Toren is an accomplished poet and taught elementary school for twenty-five years. She participated at the State level in various Literacy programs. Linda has produced a bi-monthly poetry show on KQBM’s A Way with Words for over four years. Last year, she collaborated with Amador County’s Poet Laureate and Amador Arts Council to bring poetry to over 35 different classrooms, as well as working with Calaveras Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud grant program at the High School level.


Besides her poetry publication, Linda has published with different presses. She has edited and helped produce anthologies in Calaveras, for both children and adults.


The Poet Laureate’s two-year term provides many activities, including public readings throughout urban and rural locations and educating civic and community leaders about poetry. A major goal is bringing poetry to school children who might otherwise have little opportunity
to be exposed about the value of poetry and creative expression. There is also a significant cultural project component.


Since 2001, California Poet Laureates have been chosen by both State and Local Officials. Different townships and Arts Councils have also chosen their community Poet Laureates. Qualifications for Calaveras County’s Poet Laureate position include producing works reflective of the County and its people.


In 2020, Friends of the Calaveras County Library, the local 501C-3 volunteer group established to support Calaveras County Libraries, delivered a County Proclamation announcing their Poet Laureate position.


Conrad Levasseur was the previous Calaveras County 2020-2022 Poet Laureate ,whose work is available in various publications. He continues as “Director of Community Relations and Development” at Ironstone Vineyards.

Submitted By:
Pru Starr
President FOTCCL

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                  Linda Toren

The foothills have been my home for forty-four years. My husband and I have raised our family and been part of the community--working, teaching, and volunteering. I obtained my teaching credential and taught in Calaveras Unified School District from 1984-2008. During that time, I also worked state-wide on early literacy with the California Reading and Literature Project and High-Scope Educational Research Foundation (doing trainings and consultations with Navajo schools in Arizona and New Mexico). 

My on-going passion has been poetry.  I've worked on county-wide poetry projects in Calaveras and Amador counties and volunteered at several schools and produced anthologies of student work for the past 20 years. I've had the pleasure of presenting poetry workshops at Asilomar with other writers and poets. Celebrating poetry and Calaveras County is an honor and joy.

Linda Toren
Poet/Educator
lintoren@gmail.com
lindatoren.com
calaveraspoet@gmail.com

Poet Laureate Calaveras County ’22-‘24
"A Way With Words” radio program KQBM.org
“Raven Braids the Wind”
(March 2022 Manzanita Writers Press)
Director - Voices of Wisdom Writers

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Laureate Projects

  • Visit each library branch (including the book mobile branch) each year 2022-2024.

  • Presentations to community organizations

  • Annual presentation to Calaveras County Board of Supervisors

  • Zoom workshops

  • Visit senior centers

  • School visits (Workshops)

  • Write a poem for districts 1-5 in Calaveras County

Projects already in place:

  • Launch of 1st annual “Poetry of the Mother Lode” (will occur during April “Poetry Month”)

  • Facilitate Voices of Wisdom, Poetry, and Memoir groups through Manzanita Writers Press

  • Radio show featuring poets, authors, and literary news

  • Support Poetry Out Loud program in Calaveras County

  • Poem to appear as a permanent installation in West Point Art Path (Fall 2022)

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Calaveras County Welcomes its new Poet Laureate!

Conrad Levasseur

MEDIA RELEASE from Friends of the Calaveras County Library

July 2020

Friends of the Calaveras County Library is pleased to announce the Poet Laureate Program for Calaveras County and its first Poet Laureate, Conrad Levasseur. The selection and announcement of the Calaveras County Poet Laureate is a process administered by the non-profit Friends of the Calaveras County Library.

 

The position of Calaveras County Poet Laureate will honor local outstanding poets, integrate poetry into the community, enrich the education of our young people, and enhance the County’s position as a cultural center. The position of California Poet Laureate was established as a part of the California Government Code in 2001 through AB 113.

Appointments will be for two-year terms. The honorary position is without salary although an annual stipend will be provided.

Contact information:

Poet Laureate Conrad Levasseur:

calaveraspoet@gmail.com

P O Box 2247 Murphys, CA 95247

Contact Phone: 209-754-0577

library.calaverasgov.us

https://manzanitaartsemporium.com

 

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About Conrad

As Conrad Levasseur says,

 

“POETRY SAVED MY LIFE. It helped me to go in sane and come out sane. In and out. The Balance. It helped put into perspective all my international explorations. I had guided groups to well over a hundred countries. Poetry was a vehicle for the distillation and grounding of those experiences. The same was true for all the other elements of my life; the workplace, my relationship with my family and community, and my connection with the natural world. It was always a meditational tool. It helped me to be in touch with the more unseen part of myself. The transcendent. The part that was larger than my individual self, but affirmed it. The part that always brought me back to the present moment, connected me with whatever the circumstances of my life were, and interconnected me with everything else.

I believe the poetic element is a part of everyone, even if they don’t know it. And that it has the potential as a tool for, those that are so inclined, enriching their self awareness, and giving an added sense of direction to their lives.”

My personal poetry

I have published seven books of poetry, each about fifty pages. They were all published by “Small Poetry Press” in Pleasant Hill, CA.

“The Spirits Can’t Get You On The Stairs” – “The Single Parent Wilderness Of The Nursery Room” – “Moon Honey” – “Counting Coup” – “Breakfast Jazz” – “Circling Blue Mountain” – “Bush Banana Dreaming”

Although I lost dozens of journals, and a number of manuscripts I had been working on, in the Calaveras Butte Fire, I did manage to save a half dozen manuscripts for potential future publication.

I never made much of an effort to send individual poems to magazines, literary journals, or newspapers, but I did have some of my poems appear in San Francisco Ecology Center News, World Prayers, Manzanita Writers Press’s Manzanita: Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra series and Out Of The Fire anthology, a British literary anthology, a men’s group journal, and several independent literary blogs that had somehow pulled them out of my books.

I gave a number of readings in various bookstores and cafes in San Francisco, Berkeley, The East Bay, and Marin County.

Coupled with this was a series of Multidimensional Journaling workshops that I have conducted, combining journal entries, poetry, art work, collage, and news clippings as a way of stimulating greater creativity in ones’ work, academic studies, artistic pursuits, and family.

My general work in the world

For the past sixteen years I have been “Director Of Community Relations And Development” at Ironstone Vineyards. I have represented Ironstone locally, regionally, and statewide. I’ve been their “Concierge,” developed a three-hour educational wine history tour of the vineyards, and trained dozens of employees to be able to conduct a good part of it.

I was on the Board Of Directors for “California Travel Association” (CalTravel), the influential, unified voice of the travel and tourism industry in California, for four years. Its mission is to protect and advance the Industry’s interests and investments through advocacy, collaboration, and education.

I was on the Advisory Board for the Calaveras Enterprise for four years.

I was on Columbia College’s Advisory Board to assess the development of tourism in Tuolumne, Calaveras, and Amador counties for two years.

I’ve given numerous talks on Gold Rush history, the wine industry, and agricultural tourism in the foothills. I served as the “West Coast Regional Sales Manager” for sixteen years at Travel Corporation of America (Travcoa). I conducted groups to well over a hundred countries, throughout Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, Asia, The Middle East, South and Central America, the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. I developed and presented global travel talks to travel agents on the west coast, and around the country, and was a key note speaker at various conferences.

Director of U.C. Berkeley’s “International House’s”, Summer program, Lodestar International Student Program in Calaveras County.

San Francisco Ecology Center. I directed their Environmental Speakers Program, and conducted walking tours of the city.

American River Touring Association in Oakland (ARTA).

I was a wild river rafting guide in California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado.

American International Travel Service (AITS), Chestnut Hill, Ma.

My travel experience started with them after college. As a Tour Director, I conducted groups through The Hawaiian Islands, Europe, The Orient and Southeast Asia, and South America.

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Below is a poem by Conrad, from the anthology, Out of the Fire,

published by Manzanita Writers Press in 2017.

45 Years of My Words Away

by Conrad Levasseur

 So how do I write about something

that took 45 years of my words & art away?

Journals, articles, poems, drawings, paintings, manuscripts, travel sketches, a library & research files, every letter

and post card from the three kids, Margaret, family, friends.

A goldrush mine of memory

that I wanted to dig into in retirement to shovel, rake, sift, pan and separate all the nuggets from the general debris.

After the fire

only the rammed earth adobe walls still standing

Everything else melted or bent or pulverized into soft, fine ash.

Even the half dozen cords of wood

in the open field

that were chain sawed, split, stacked neatly in geometric rows

patiently waiting through

the drought-dried summer simmering heat to perform their duty

in the Vermont Casting wood stove

as soon as the first beautiful silver frost wolves of winter came running down

the slopes of the Sierra

now sit

but a handful of delicate fine ash.

The power of the flame to totally dissolve

a refrigerator, liquify glass

and melt machines.

All those hundreds of hours spent getting beyond clearance with the undergrowth

inching my way through oak, manzanita, cedar, pine,

miners’ misery, poison oak, star thistle

Now beyond—beyond clearance.

 Every nook, valley, slope, hill creek, drainage on the acreage

nakedly exposed beyond all my years  of intimacy with them.

There were some ghost books that lay on their backs, binders spread open,

at a hundred and eighty degrees

an accordion of pages eerily beckoning

to be picked up and played

one last time

collapsing with their final breath when delicately touched

by a finger cautiously seeking that final secretive tale.

 

Somehow family history still clung to the walls

reminding me of archeological sites I visited around the world

 

I first thought

of leaving the walls to be buried

by moss, lichens, vines

a new forest monument to my family living

for a short period together at the edge of the grid

my mother’s ashes

spread around the property weaving a genetic thread

from the Old World to the New.

When Margaret and I drove back the first time and got out of the car, both of us thought

one of us whispered, The silence—it’s so quiet here.

 Unimaginably quiet

beyond the cherished silence that had nurtured us

all these years.

No tracks of squirrel, skunk, raccoon, bear, coyote, mountain lion, wild turkey, wild pig, dog, cat.

No bird songs.

 One set—one set out of dozens before of deer tracks clearly imprinted

in the ash-sealed road.

Of course,

the walls did have to come down the land did have to be cleared

leaving an open, empty field. A haunted forest?

Or, a fresh, new field of dreams?

Yet to be written.

 

 

Article in the Ledger newspaper in Amador County:

http://www.ledger.news/on_the_vine/conrad-levasseur-from-murphys-selected-first-poet-laureate-for-calaveras/article_b3378eb8-c792-11ea-b65b-fb2f7fdffb97.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

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