Monday, February 6, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 49

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on October 7th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 16, Issue 31

Live from the CORE features traveling and local poets reading verse


Local poet and novelist Michael McLaughlin moved to Santa Maria a few years ago, and not long after he arrived he noticed a deficit in the area’s venues for live poetry readings.

McLaughlin is involved with Poetry in Schools. He also facilitates arts and poetry programs at the Atascadero State Hospital, as well as Pleasant Valley State Prison. He commutes more than 600 miles each week, returning home to Santa Maria where he has been unable to perform or share his work in a public arena. That changed when McLaughlin took matters into his own hands and began a poetry series that met regularly at the Bookworm bookstore in Santa Maria.

Santa Barbara-based poet Christine Penko will read poems from her new book Thunderbirds at Live from the CORE on Oct. 10.

“I’ve seen a tremendous amount of talent here that’s not being served—particularly kids—but then I was starving culturally myself,” he said. “There has to be more going on because as an artist, I’m not being served here, because there was nowhere for me to read and nowhere for me to host anything.”

The series quickly outgrew the tiny bookstore, McLaughlin explained, where he featured poets from California and from across the country followed by open mic sessions for locals to share verses. He found a home more suited to his crowd after connecting with Dave and Becky Corey, owners of CORE Wine Company, whose tasting room is located in a historic bank building at the corner of Broadway Street and Clark Avenue in Old Orcutt.

The series Live from the CORE began four months ago, and runs on the second Saturday of each month, McLaughlin said. McLaughlin tries to bring in two featured poets who are published to read before the open mic begins.

“I say poetry and performance—it has to be high caliber,” he said. “And I also want to keep it open to musicians and novelists and other kinds of artists.” 

Live from the CORE has featured a comic book artist, who appeared with both a band and a performance artist. McLaughlin said he already has the series booked through June of 2016. On the docket are slam poets, musicians, and even an African drummer.

Live from the CORE features a diverse lineup of traveling poets, with room for musicians and other kinds of performance art, said organizer and emcee Michael McLaughlin. Luivette Resto is shown from her Sept. 12 performance.

The Coreys have provided more than just a space for the series, they have helped stimulate a community of poets and artists who attend the shows in Orcutt, McLaughlin said.

“They’ve infused the place with their personality,” he said. “They’re very personable and are really open to the arts and want to see something vibrant in Orcutt. They are just very open and receptive.”

CORE Winery—which also began featuring the visual art exhibit Unseen No More in collaboration with the Ian M. Hassett Foundation on Oct. 2—pours a good amount of wine at each poetry event, Becky Corey told the Sun via email.

Their drink may help loosen things up, Corey mused, but the relaxing atmosphere of CORE also helps get the audience in the mood.

“What I enjoy the most is observing and watching the evening unfold as the audience relaxes and really listens,” she wrote. “I love hearing the author of the poems reading their own material because it helps you interpret the meaning with the way they read the words off the page.”

The Coreys’ popular reds and whites certainly add to the events as a kind of social lubricant, McLaughlin agreed, but the novelty of Old Orcutt itself adds to the guest performers’ experience, he said.

“It’s funny because the poets and performers I’ve had from LA or San Francisco think Old Town Orcutt is exotic because it’s got this whole Wild West thing to it,” he said. “They like it, the old feeling, the oil derricks, and even the crummy old bar, Elmer’s.”

The two visiting poets for the upcoming performance on Oct. 10 aren’t visiting from too far away though, McLaughlin explained. Christine Penko is a Santa Barbara-based poet who is also involved with Poets in the Schools and released a new book, Thunderbirds, this year. Enid Osbourne is a Ventura-based poet who has a new book coming out through Big Yes Press this year titled When The Big Wind Comes.

Make it out
Live from the CORE features poets Christine Penko and Enid Osbourne performing their poetry live followed by an open mic on Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. at the CORE tasting room, 105 W. Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 937-1600.

The first part of the show is reserved for the featured poets, who each get a half hour to read before the open mic portion. Then locals are allowed to read for five minutes each during open mic. The interaction between professionals and amateurs, the visiting artists and the locals, is an important aspect of any artist’s progression, McLaughlin said.

“The path to becoming a better artist comes from being exposed to other artists who’ve made it,” he said, “but also being exposed to their struggles, because it is a huge struggle trying to make it in any of the arts.”

The arts are also uniquely effective in helping people deal and cope with any of life’s difficulties, McLaughlin added. Both poets, particularly Penko, he said, focus on struggles and hardships they’ve endured.

“These are honest poets; they are addressing universal issues that we can all identify with, including family, substance abuse, the importance of nature in our lives, and the fact that, as human as we are, we’re all animals,” he said. “These are truths that people gloss over, but the best poets are the fearless ones.”

Arts Editor Joe Payne embraces his mammalian roots. Contact him at

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