Poet Christine Richardson, who co-hosts the WGPP readings with her husband Dennis Richardson, introduced the featured reader, Arlene Biala, with these words:
Tonight we are thrilled to present the fourth poet laureate of Santa Clara County, Arlene Biala, a Filipina poet and performance artist. Supervisor Dave Cortese said, “The poet laureate serves as ambassador to the poetic arts in our community.” Perhaps no poet is better qualified to continue this legacy. Arlene has devoted her adult life to public service and community involvement, working since 1996 as an arts education and grants manager for the city of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs. She has collaborated with writers, dancers, musicians and other artists in many creative endeavors, most notably, appearing with former California, now U. S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera at a presentation in March of 2016 at the National Photo Gallery in Washington D.C. He has praised Arlene and her poetry by telling us, “Arlene Biala chants and dances at the center of inner-outer sacred lakes, her texts move at the incredible heights of Pele, the ancient Goddess.”
Arlene discovered poetry as a young person when she found a copy of e.e. Cummings poems in her brother’s backpack. Encouraged my her mother, a drama and English teacher, Arlene has continued to write, at first in a journal in which she wrote poetry to vent negative feelings and then later to witness the challenges and issues that confront us working through words to solutions.
Arlene has published three volumes of poetry. Her most recent work, her beckoning hands, was the winner of the American Book Award in 2015.
Her poems have been described as “ lovely, lush poems grounded in ritual object and ritual practice, mantras that resonate with the body and plant the body firmly in the world.”
Prepare now to enter the fascinating and evocative world of Arlene Biala.