David Stone

Love Lines for Your Valentine

Still need to write your Valentine? Use lines from a local poet.

Someone seeking clarification about another’s romantic intent and who enjoys the use of lowercase letters like e. e. cummings might appreciate a line from Cindy Rinne’s “Another Park Poem.” Inspired by a walk in Riverside’s Fairmont Park, Rinne wrote, “did you try to carve the bark/ leave a heart…” Rinne lives in Redlands. Her next work is titled “Quiet Lantern.”

Courageous individuals who are willing to be vulnerable might use lines from Cati Porter’s poem “Clearly.” “Look at me/ and tell me that you want me, that you want to heart/ the distance and that you cannot in the object see/ a flaw, and though I am (flawed) I am for you, and/ there is a small tight thought that is wound in me,/ that knowing that you love, a lightning, a lightning/ on the inside: so that you see; so that you know.” Porter lives in Riverside. Her latest book “My Skies of Small Horses” comes out this month.

Seasoned lovers may like to use lines from “Litany” from Claremont poet Lucia Galloway’s latest chapbook “The Garlic Peelers:” “O love, what is your wish?/ We’ve half again as much to say as we have said./ Set down the goblet, and the carmine wine/ sheets down its sides to pool in the bowl./ Let’s drink our words instead of hoarding them.”

Sweethearts who remind you of characters from the The Big Bang Theory should appreciate lines from Marsha Schuh’s “You and Me in Binary.” Appropriately published in the computer textbook Schuh co-wrote with Stanford Rowe, Schuh imagines a world based on four, considers the dominance of the decimal in our world and closes her poem with pondering the numerical effects of becoming a couple: “Then we unlearn it all /learn to speak binary,/ a better way,/ two as opposed to eight or ten,/ the most significant bit,/ the least significant bit/ one-two, on-off, you-we,/ binary.” Schuh resides in Ontario.

Lovers in a more ambiguous relationship may resonate with lines from the Palm Springs poet and writer Ruth Nolan. In her forthcoming book, “Ruby Mountain,” she writes, “shouldn’t I pretend you did it for love/ shouldn’t I believe it was a mistake/ shouldn’t I wonder why not/ shouldn’t I wonder why. . . .”

Those pained may appreciate the words of the title persona in Nikia Chaney’s “Sis Fuss.” The poem “Syllogizing Sis Fuss” closes: “we all hurt. And if we all/ hurt then we all hurt/ each other and the next.” Chaney lives in Rialto.

Jennifer and Chad Sweeney from Redlands are a couple, who are both accomplished poets. Jennifer provides profundity and striking imagery in her book “Salt Memory.” She writes, “As water poured into the heart flows out the palms, so does love return, as thirst, as satiation—the shape the lost ocean has carved onto the salt brick desert.”

With characteristic quirky humor in his book “White Martini for the Apocalypse,” Chad writes, “It was love./ She taught me to drive her bulldozer./ I taught her to forge my signature!”

In earthier lines from his poem “Effects,” first published in Caliban, Chad writes, “The best sex in the world happens during conjugal visits. I’ve gotten myself into prison twice, just to have it. That’s why I’m calling. Happy Valentine’s Day!” Chad Sweeney teaches creative writing at Cal State San Bernardino.

The longing and transformative power of love comes through in the closing lines of Judy Kronenfeld’s “Listen” from her forthcoming collection, “Bird Flying Through the Banquet,” 
“Let your eyes rest/ on my face. Arrest me/ in turn. I will burst/ from the seed/ of myself.” Kronenfeld is professor emerita from UCR.

Ontario poet Tim Hatch gives words to the desire to comfort one’s dearest when he or she is gone: “Scatter my memory where my memories are sweetest. Gulls cry, salt breeze carries me away. When you’re there you can breathe deep, take me inside and remember.”


For a wider array of classic poems to use for Valentine’s Day, search the Poetry Foundation’s website for “Poems for Valentines” or the poets.org site for “love poems.”

Return to lender? Borrowed books don’t always have to end up with original owner by Cati Porter

Twenty-five years ago, I borrowed Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” from a boyfriend, along with a couple of books by Jack Kerouac and a college lit anthology.

I read them all. At some point, we broke up, quietly disappearing from one another’s lives, never to speak again.

I never returned those books.

Later, from a high school friend that I’d reconnected with after moving back home, I borrowed two short story collections by Woody Allen, a memoir of a young Chinese woman, and probably others that I’ve just assimilated because, as you might have guessed, I never returned those either.

Maybe it’s just me, but there is something about borrowing books from a friend that makes me feel that I can be leisurely about returning them. My friends don’t charge me late fines, and there is no revoking of my library card if I fail to return them on time.

Of course I should have returned them, but all these years later, I only half-regret that. I didn’t borrow them with the intention of keeping them, but time passes and people move on, and sometimes only the books remain.

Among my books, I still have a couple of high school textbooks: another literature anthology – which, incidentally, contains a poem by someone I have in later years gotten to know and work with as a mentor – and also a book on Greek myths, both lost in the mess beneath my bed until it was too late to return them with dignity, fines paid, the books long replaced.

Among my recently borrowed books, I currently have a collection of poetry by Tristan Tzara, two short story collections, a novel, and CDs of Dylan Thomas reading his poetry.

Yes, I intend to give those back. But for all the books I’ve borrowed and kept, I have loaned out three times as many, many of which are either still out, some never to be returned.

Books are meant to be shared. I have never been stingy about loaning my books, even prized volumes that are personally inscribed. I am a collector, but I am not a hoarder, and I would rather a book keep making the rounds than sit on my dusty shelf.

A friend stopped by my house this week in need of poetry. He is a voracious reader and recently consumed a 900-page biography of Darwin after recommending to my husband a multivolume biography of Lyndon Johnson, which we promptly ordered.

In addition to borrowing books, I believe in buying books and supporting our local booksellers, like Cellar Door Books, Renaissance Books, Downtowne Books and the Mission Inn Museum store.

I like real books with tangible pages that can tear, dog ear, wrinkle, stain. New or used, purchased, found, loaned or given. I am not one to turn pages gently in the upper right corner, never breaking the spine.

I open my books flat, I write in them – even borrowed books, though those I only write in lightly with pencil – and I fold corners and improvise bookmarks, cram them in my purse to be jammed up against a fat wallet, multiple pens, vials of pills. I am rough with my books. I like them lived in. A pristine book is an unloved book. I love my books, sometimes to death.

One of my favorites activities is looking through friends’ bookshelves, always attuned to the evidence of lives lived in the company of books: smears of chocolate, coffee, ketchup, grease; notes in the margin, or scrawled across the page, covers detached and taped back on.

I prefer to acquire used books over buying new for that reason; the cost savings is just a bonus. I love knowing that the book had a secret life before it came into my own – that somebody loved it, then set it free. But nothing beats a free book, a book freely given or loaned. Loaning a book to someone is like belonging to an exclusive club, one where to become a member requires trust, faith, and a willingness to let things go.

That is one reason I love the new Little Free Library trend. We trust, lend and sometimes let it go. To find one near you, all you need to do is visit littlefreelibrary.org and click on the “map” tab, then select “near me.”

According to this map, there are nine near me, including at a favorite sandwich shop, The Back Street, and up on Box Springs Mountain near the big C. There is also one in front of the Women’s Club on Brockton, and another at a private residence on Falkirk and one at a private residence on Victoria Avenue at Madison.

No, you can’t reserve a book. No, there isn’t a huge selection. But the fact that so many people value books in this way is heartening and I am reminded of all that communities do for each other. This is just one way for neighbors and strangers to connect, even if they never in fact meet. Books shared are the best kind of books around.

That Milan Kundera book? Loaned to another friend, mom to one of my oldest son’s elementary school classmates. I haven’t spoken to her in years. It is doubtful that I will ever get it back.

And that’s just the way it ought to be.

Inlandia: Past, Present, and Future by Cati Porter

People poured out of the elevators and onto the rooftop of the Riverside Art Museum last Friday night for the Totally Amazing Kickoff Event for the Marion Mitchell-Wilson Endowment for Inlandia’s Future. The invitation read, in part, “Marion would want you to attend.” With a 60″ banner of Marion flying at the entrance, she was definitely there, watching over all of us. Marion had many friends, and it was my privilege to be counted among them.

This was an event to remember.

With a drink in their hand, old friends and new listened to live jazz. Emceed by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Teresa Rhyne, and with speakers Heyday founder and publisher Malcolm Margolin, acclaimed photographer Douglas McCulloh, and award-winning local treasure and inaugural Literary Laureate Susan Straight (“There should be a statue!”), there was no shortage of talent present, and the space buzzed.

When the night was over, Marion’s wish had come true: We reached our goal of $100,000.

This is the power of friendship, and of community. I am in awe of all of you.

Some have asked what this endowment is going to do. In short, it will ensure the future of the Inlandia Institute and further the good work that Marion, Inlandia’s founder, set out to do.

Inlandia, since its inception, has provided hundreds of programs, and served many thousands, including creative literacy programs for youth.

SCIPP (Students and Coyotes Instruction in Poetry and Prose) at Bryant School of Art & Innovation in Riverside, a program created by Inlandia’s third Literary Laureate Juan Delgado, helps kids learn to write their own stories, songs, screenplays, and poems, present them in front of an audience, and allows them to see their work in print in a small book.

Other in-school presentations have included authors like Straight and Gayle Brandeis, inspiring the next generation to read and to write.

We’ve also brought puppetry programs to schools through Puppet Palooza, and writing workshops and readings to at-risk youth through a partnership with the Women Wonder Writers program.

Inlandia isn’t just for children, though; Inlandia offers creative literacy programs for adults, too. Our free creative writing workshops program has grown from one held in downtown Riverside to a half-dozen held at local libraries across the region, as well as an annual Family Legacy writing workshop for seniors and a Boot Camp for Writers series of workshops.

Inlandia also publishes books of local interest and national importance. In November of last year, we published No Easy Way: Integrating Riverside Schools – A Victory for Community by Arthur L. Littleworth, which tells the story of the 1965 voluntary integration of Riverside Unified School District, which spurred a series of community conversations that brought people together to talk through tough issues.

Coming in 2016, look for more books by local authors including the local signing sensations The Why Nots, an all-women’s musical group that has been performing together for forty-five years, and one on noted and noteworthy architect Henry Jekyl, who left a legacy of beautiful Riverside homes, and a few mysteries, by Dr. Vince Moses and Cate Whitmore.

In addition to those, we will also be publishing the winners of inaugural Hillary Gravendky Prize, an open poetry book competition with both a national and a regional winner, judged by award-winning CSUSB faculty poet Chad Sweeney. We are thrilled to announce that Kenji Liu (Monterrey Park, CA), was awarded the National prize for his manuscript Map of an Onion, and Angela Ina Penaredondo (Riverside, CA), was awarded the regional prize for her manuscript All Things Lose Thousands of Times.

Inlandia is also proud partners with local libraries and other arts organizations to provide other opportunities for literary engagement including the Riverside Public Library, where Inlandia recently began an outdoor summer reading series during Arts Walk, Literature on the Lawn; Poets in Distress, a performance poetry group, will be presenting on October 1. We also have a brand-new partnership with UCR’s Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, the Conversations at the Culver series where just this past week we kicked off the series with Pulitzer Prize finalist and UCR professor Laila Lalami.

We also take pride in participating in community activities, from Riverside’s Day of Inclusion and Day of the Dead festivities, to the Native Voices Poetry Festival in Banning at the Dorothy Ramon Center to Western Municipal Water District’s Earth Night in Garden in April. Inlandia will also be a part of the upcoming Long Night of Arts & Innovation on October 8 and the Riverside Festival of the Arts on October 10, with interactive literary activities, including a Long Night of Arts & Innovation-sponsored Poetry Box: Bring a poem you wrote at home or write one on the spot and drop it in the box for a chance to win the Long Night Poetry Contest. One poem will be selected for publication on the Long Night of Arts and Innovation website.

Marion once said that Inlandia was “on the cusp”. I think whatever comes after the cusp: we’re here. Welcome to the future. Inlandia means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But to me, Inlandia means all of us. We are all Inlandia. Thank you.

Inlandia Founder Remembered by Cati Porter

No one could ever say “no” to Marion Mitchell-Wilson.

After I began attending Inlandia events in late 2007, Marion invited me for coffee. Before my cup was empty, I had agreed to become a member of Inlandia’s Advisory Council.

Smiling, thoughtful and almost always full of energy, Marion had a way of making you want to help with her projects. And you never regretted it.

Marion, founding director of the Inlandia Institute, died a week ago after a long battle with breast cancer.

I never envisioned an Inlandia without Marion. Occasionally she would say things like, “Cati, when I retire,” but I couldn’t think past the here and now.

Even after she officially “retired” in 2012 to work on getting well, she continued to be present for me, whispering suggestions and offering solutions, serving as Inlandia’s institutional memory.

Many of us have fond memories of Marion, and how she got us involved in promoting the Inland area’s literary life. We’ll share a few thoughts here from several Inlandia board members and local writers.

FRANCES J. VASQUEZ

Marion Mitchell-Wilson cared passionately about many things and all things Inlandia: the people, their stories, and the literary expression of our regional voices. Multi-talented, she was a wonderful gourmet cook who loved to share her bounty and her kindness with others.

One Friday, I helped Marion with preparations for an Inlandia member reception being held the next day. Her amazing menu included a favorite recipe for asparagus spears roasted with orange slices in lemon-infused olive oil and orange vinaigrette. And, a reconstructed whole poached salmon with cream cheese, cucumber sauces, and other delicacies.

During several hours of washing, peeling, and slicing fruits and vegetables, I spilled water on the kitchen floor. I asked for paper towels or rags to wipe the floor with. Marion, in her efficient way, quickly turned to a drawer and handed me a large cloth towel. I bent over to wipe the spills when Marion stopped me. “No, Frances. Don’t bend. Skate like this.”

Marion tossed the towel on the floor, stepped onto it with both feet and skated gracefully around her kitchen floor. We both laughed heartily and continued with the food preparations.

ELIO PALACIOS

I met Marion at last year’s Advisory Council workshop. My first impression was how unassuming she was considering the part she had played in creating and shaping Inlandia. And her love of and dedication to Inlandia was also very apparent as was her knowledge and wisdom.

KAREN RAE KRAUT

Marion and I met in 1990 when the California Humanities Council sponsored a series of public programs on the theme of “Place” and its effect on how we experience our lives. How’s that for foreshadowing?

Our expanding group of interested people went on to receive a grant from the Humanities Council to locally sponsor the American Renaissance Chautauqua, which resulted in the formation of a non-profit organization called the Inland Empire Educational Foundation. IEEF (rhymes with leaf), as we fondly called it, sponsored reading and discussion groups and public programs for the next five years.

Marion was an important part of all these free programs, and her vision and common sense contributed greatly to their success.

ELLEN ESTILAI

It was impossible to be part of the Riverside arts and culture scene and not know Marion Mitchell-Wilson, but I really got to know her after she invited me to a meeting with Malcolm Margolin at the Riverside Main Library to talk about the literary landscape of what we would eventually come to know as Inlandia.

That meeting helped lay the groundwork for Heyday’s book, “Inlandia: A Literary Journey through California’s Inland Empire.”

When the anthology was published, no one in the community wanted that journey to end. Marion was the engine that drove the bus, and she cajoled and sweet-talked fellow travelers into hopping on.

In 2007, I retired from the Riverside Arts Council to devote more time to writing. I was hoping for a respite from meetings and committees, but Marion was having none of that. She told me she wanted me to serve on the advisory council of a new organization, the Inlandia Institute.

“It’s just a few meetings a year,” she assured me. When I demurred, she said, “There will be liquid facilitation.”

I’ve now been in for eight years, as a council member and board member, but also as a writer. Luckily for me, the Inlandia Institute emerged just as I was learning to be a writer. I cannot imagine writing without Inlandia’s support. Like many others in this unique literary community, I am indebted to Marion for her vision, strength, and yes, occasional liquid facilitation.

ENDOWMENT

When Marion first learned the cancer had returned and was terminal, she met privately with Inlandia board members and staff, sharing her one big wish: that an endowment be founded in her name, so she could ensure the future of the organization.

In keeping with Marion’s wishes, the family is requesting donations in lieu of flowers.

Contributions can be made via PayPal, using donations@inlandiainstitute.org, through CrowdRise and by mailing a check to the Inlandia Institute, 4178 Chestnut St., Riverside, Ca., 92501.

And save these dates: Aug 28 for a memorial service at the California Citrus State Historic Park, and Sept 18 for a special endowment kickoff party in Marion’s honor at the Riverside Art Museum.