The Kenwood Press
: 10/01/2015

Village Chat

Ann Q. Peters

Did you know that Viola Weinberg Spencer was the city of Sacramento's first Poet Laureate, from 2001 to 2003? This is a great honor in a city teeming with poets and poetry. Viola says there is probably not a day in a week without a poetry program of some sort going on there. While she was poet laureate she organized an anthology of Sacramento poetry, a library reading series, a workplace series (her favorite was at the California Franchise Tax Board where thousands of employees recited their favorite poems), and a regular feature on Morning Edition on National Public Radio.

A subsequent Poet Laureate, Julia Connor, proposed Poet Laureate Park, and against all odds managed to raise the money for a sculpture park at the South Natomas Library. The project portrays poetry of each of the Poets Laureate, including two excerpts of Viola's work. The park was dedicated on Sept. 30, and for Viola it is one of her proudest moments in a career studded with literary honors.

Poet Laureate Park sculpture
Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Municipal Arts Commission Poet Laureate Park in Sacramento features the work of Viola Weinberg Spencer. The park was dedicated on Sept. 30.


Viola has five books of poetry and she is currently working on three projects, a series of 20 poems to be published on a Letterpress, titled How Love Turned Out, a broadsheet, also published on Letterpress, and a digital chapbook, which will be titled, A Feast of the Will. Viola said, “The last project is a collection of recent works, which is especially important to me because I am living with stage four cancer. I was told I had one to four months to live - two years ago! We never know how many days we will have, and I have managed to keep writing and loving every minute of this life I have.”

Viola has lived in Kenwood for the last 10 years, and her family was here for 40 years before that. A friend refers to her as “the laureate of Laurel Avenue.” Here's to you, Viola!

Copeland Creek Brass band
The Copeland Creek Brass performed at the Kenwood Depot on Sept. 27.
The Copeland Creek Brass played at the Kenwood Depot last Sunday afternoon, as part of the Kenwood Community Club's new Chamber Music at the Depot series, and it was a lovely event. The Depot is in really good shape and has great acoustics, which is a good thing since the groups that are lined up are very accomplished professional musicians. The next concert will be the Meltemi Winds on Oct. 25. Check it out. You can buy tickets here at the Kenwood Press office, or online at kenwooddepot.com. As concert-goer John Rector said afterward, Sunday's concert was a great event for two reasons. One was how good the Copeland Creek Brass were, and the other was that it saved us from watching the 49ers lose to the Arizona Cardinals 47-7!

Back on Sept. 1, I told you about a missing tombstone that Steve Berg from the Bennett Valley Cemetery Association was looking for. It was the grave marker for 11-year-old Nancy Badger who died in 1856. She was a member of the Badger family for whom Badger Road is named, in Santa Rosa. I don't know if we can take credit for any part of this, but the tombstone has been recovered. According to Steve, it was found on Schultz Road, about 4 1/2 miles from the cemetery, on Sept. 8. Nancy's stone has since been replaced alongside the rest of her family at the Bennett Valley Cemetery.

Nancy Badger’s tombstone
Tombstone of Nancy Badger, recovered and replaced at the Bennett Valley Cemetery.

I also told you about a yoga class on Wednesday mornings at St. Patrick's Church. Yoga instructor Alicia Parks wants to get the word out that the time has changed, and the class is now 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Beginners are welcome, and part of the fee goes to the church. You can also grab a cup of coffee and a pastry at the St. Patrick's Café on Wednesday mornings from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., along with some lively conversation.

And speaking of St. Patrick's, the Up, Up & Away fundraiser on Sept. 26 was a rousing success. Total expenses have yet to be tallied, but organizers are estimating that they netted around $25,000. The Fund-A-Cause appeal brought in $6,000, which will be distributed in equal amounts to S.A.Y. (Social Advocates for Youth), FISH (Friends in Sonoma Helping) and the Bishop's Discretionary Fund for fire relief in Lake County. Many people worked tirelessly on this first-time event, but special thanks go to chairwoman Jean Derum. Wonderful job, Jean!

Kenwood school sixth graders at Pasta Feed
Kenwood School sixth graders enjoyed themselves at the Pasta Feed at the Maple Ring on Sept. 20

Kenwood School's Pasta Feed at the Maple Ring on Sept. 20 was very successful and fun. Kudos to Laura Stolkin for organizing the event and rallying so much parent and community participation. The dessert auction was raucous, as always, and it alone brought in $5,100; the event topped $10,000 overall. Kenwood School sixth graders served the meal, catered by the Pasta King, and each child brought home a beautiful bouquet of flowers donated by Cathy Fletcher. Proceeds benefit the 6th grade outdoor education program at Kenwood School. This year students will enjoy a week long adventure at the Marin Headlands, participating in the Naturebridge program.

Conor Burrows, son of former Kenwoodians Randy Burrows and Susan Grivas, has been admitted to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and offered a Dean's Scholarship. Cornell College is listed as one of the 40 “Colleges That Change Lives,” and this year it was named one of the 100 best values in liberal arts education by Kiplinger's, among other accolades. But now Conor is going to have to get used to those cold Iowa winters, brrrr… Congratulations, Conor!

Jean Wong reports that she had the pleasure of performing on Charmian London's magnificent 1901 Steinway grand piano on Sept. 20. Charmian was the wife of Jack London and herself an accomplished pianist. The Upbeat Trio with Marc Helfman on clarinet, David Scott on flute, and Jean on piano, played in the House of Happy Walls Museum at Jack London State Park, and Jean says, “This venue has some outstanding performers in a lovely, a must-see historic location.”

That's all for now. Thanks, everyone, for sending in your news and photos. It's easy to do - just email ann@kenwoodpress.com, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP