Featuring Len Anderson, June 2012

Christine Richardson, co-host of the Willow Glen Poetry Project’s open-mic session, introduced Len Anderson with these words:

What do you get when combine measurement and metaphor, sensors and simile, elementary particle physics and poetry? You get the mind and the unique creative

output of tonight’s featured reader, Len Anderson. It is a rare occurrence- this seamless blending of right and left-brain activities. Len received his PhD in physics from Berkeley, did research in experimental elementary particle physics, and developed sensors for the automation of paper manufacturing. Thirty years ago, in the midst of all this, he began to write poetry.

 Anyone reading his poetry understands the interconnectedness of his many talents and passions and his keen way of identifying the known and imagining the unknown. He can

look at an equation in quantum physics and see, “it harbors what look like small/migratory birds blown in on stiff winds./ what land could they possible/come from?” In another poem he ponders his own “Equation for the End of the World”.

But thoughtful poet that he is, also offers advice, in another poem, “How to Dress for the End of the World”. Len reminds us that, “We poets need to listen.”  But for all of his knowledge and insight, Len remains a humble man. In a poem about an encounter with crows in a park in Japan, he concludes, “I will never know what I am. Crow flies down often to tell me so.”

Now Len is not just a physicist who retired in 1997 to write poetry in a secluded cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 2001 he co-founded Poetry Santa Cruz where he serves as Secretary-Treasurer wearing more hats than thought possible. Len has been instrumental in presenting over 250 poetry events in Santa Cruz County. He also helped found a collective small poetry press, Hummingbird Press. He has had poems in numerous magazines and journals and is the author of two volumes of poetry: Attention for the Unknowable (2003) and Invented by the Night, which was published this past November.

Quite a lot for one man, but as he tells us in one of the last poems in his latest collection, he is in his 49th lifetime and just keeps on going.

Oh, and did I mention he is a fantastic flamenco dancer?

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