Christine Richardson, the Willow Glen Poetry Project’s co-host, introduced Santa Clara County’s Poet Laureate, Sally Ashton, with these words
With only two readings left this calendar year, we are pleased to be featuring, in reverse order, our first two Santa Clara poet laureates. There is a wonderful serendipity to this occurrence.
Dennis and I met Sally Ashton about 10 years ago when she sat beside our not-yet-first poet laureate, Nils Peterson at a workshop at Markham House. Nils introduced Sally as his former San Jose State University student in whom he saw great promise and encouraged her to pursue an advanced degree in poetry, which she did earning her MFA from Bennington College in Vermont.
Since then, Sally has gone on to give generously to poetry in our valley and nationally as a teacher, an editor, a reader, a PCSJ board member, a producer of a fine poetry festival, and now as our poet laureate. I have been able to witness her in action in all these roles. From my personal experience I have seen what makes Sally the fine poet she is. As a teacher she prepares thoroughly; as an editor she is both sensitive and motivating as well as challenging and questioning; as a team leader and organizer she is capable of visualizing the big picture while focusing on the myriad of fine details necessary for a successful outcome.
And from the start of her tenure as our 2nd poet laureate Sally has strived to fulfill one of the main criteria for the position: make poetry accessible for people in everyday lives.
She has traveled the length and breadth of our county hosting favorite poem readings, bedecking county transit with local poets’ words, and now with a reading on December 6 at Barnes and Nobel Steven Creek will herald the many rich languages spoken in our multi-hued, multi-cultural county.
And I have so enjoyed knowing Sally through her own poetry. Reading through her three books is to appreciate the wide-open meadow of her mind where anything can enter: “the California night full of only of itself”, “the cold, the hard, the brilliant”, “even a turkey vulture”. So many versions of her writing self. “I’m a silver lock. I’m a silver key. I’m a brass lock. I’m a brass key. I’m a gold lock. I’m …” Sally Aston.