Saturday, June 23, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on September 6th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 27 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 27

CORE Winery in Orcutt hosts poetry reading


“My mother turned the masa on the wooden board/one ancestral world after another spilling from her hands./This mound of flour, leavening, water, lard,/and a pinch of salt became the full moon of our history.”

The words of Carla Riedel’s poem, “A Fig Is Like a Tortilla Is Like a Raven,” are filled with poignant images, compact with symbolism and the raw physicality of human memory. The writer, along with fellow poet Toni Wynn, is set to appear on Sept. 9 at a reading hosted by CORE Winery in Orcutt. The event is part of an ongoing poetry night event, hosted by local author Michael McLaughlin on the second Saturday of every month.

Poet Carla Riedel is also a Curandera (healer) who lives in Sedona with her astrologer husband, Rick, and their two cats, Lanoo and Ebano. She won first place for Spillway’s 1997 Walt Whitman Call and Response Poetry Contest, along with poet Jim Natal.

A Cave Canem fellow, Toni Wynn’s work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. An educator and museum consultant, Wynn creates exhibits that focus on anti-oppression initiatives.

Wynn has authored several books of poetry, including Ground, the place within where the universe resides, and the book Color, Voices, Place along with Riedel and the late John Sousa. On Sept. 9, Reidel and Wynn will reunite at CORE to present readings from their respective works.

Wynn, a former Central Coast resident, spent the past 20 years in Hampton, Virginia, and said she is looking forward to the chance to come back to Orcutt.

“[Color, Voices, Heart] is closest to my heart,” Wynn said. “I love that book and the pieces in it. There was a certain kind of energy in those pieces.”

She said the energy from an audience is all-consuming, like the way musicians and dancers feel when performing. Wynn also said a reading is a chance to give a poem a different kind of life by exposing it to the public.

“I feel like poems need air,” she said. “It’s important to put a piece out there that you’re not that sure about and see what floats and what happens. It’s important to test it out and have people give you feedback.”

Wynn started writing poetry when she was a child. She said her writing reflects layers of influences and inspirations, but one thing has always remained fairly uniform.

“One thing that tends to be consistent with me is nature,” she explained. “I do these meditations on nature. In poetry it’s the small moments that can be really significant and draw you in.”

Wynn described a particular scene she recently observed that she said will likely inspire a poem some day. She observed a man who worked near a train track open a door just so he could get a brief glimpse of the train going by.

“He came out and he pulled up the metal door,” she said, “and he stood there completely expressionless until the train pulled away. Then he pulled the door back down. It was about 30 seconds. He deliberately walked back there to just see this train.”

Poet Toni Wynn reads from a collection of her work alongside Carla Riedel, a poet based out of Tucson. Both women share a connection to the Central Coast, and previously published a book together, Color, Voices, Place, co-authored by the late John Sousa.

She said that in her mind she pictured the endless reasons the man would be watching this train. These are the ways that poems sometimes begin, she explained.

“That moment has stayed with me ever since I saw that,” she said. “Just imagining if there was somebody on that train he needed to see. Or it could be a million other things. That to me is the springboard for an entire poem.”

One of her poems, “She Is Not Luna,” was inspired by a former boyfriend. In the excerpt here, Wynn presents a stirring portrait of conflict and contradictions:

“She is not Artemis he is not/Apollo. They wrestle anyway,/earth magnets looking up./He says, It’s six o’clock it’s dark/I don’t like it./Go to a pole, she says./The southern hemisphere—that one./You want sun? It’s there,” the first stanzas of the poem read.

“We had a terrible breakup,” Wynn said. “It was really just about how to try to get along. We came from two completely different places in terms of class and culture. It was just a poem that came out of frustration.”

Riedel grew up in Santa Barbara and lived on the Central Coast. Riedel is the founding director of the Santa Barbara Writers’ Consortium. She studied Ethnic Literature at UC Santa Barbara, and her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including several chapbooks: Letting the Ghosts Out and Back into These Bones.

Poets, don’t you know it
CORE Winery’s poetry reading with Toni Wynn and Carla Riedel is scheduled for Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at 105 W. Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 937-1600.

She moved to Tucson, Arizona, to be with her husband, Rick, several years ago. Now, Riedel is set to return to the Central Coast to read alongside Wynn. Riedel began writing poems at the age of 13, when it was assigned as a class project.

“The instructor said to the class, ‘We have a poet among us,’” Riedel said. “I was looking around, wondering who it was, and then she said my name.”

Riedel said the support of her teacher gave her the confidence to continue writing. She said that defining the exact nature of her inspiration can be difficult to pinpoint.

“For me, it goes to the soul,” she said. “The way I come to writing is I have to have a lot of quiet so that I can open to that inspiration. … An image forms, and from there the words just come. From there I begin writing a piece.”

Riedel tackles powerful visual imagery, dripping with references to nature, as demonstrated in her poem “Sonora.”

“Before you come to the desert/let everything dreamed in blue water/rise into an even bluer sky./Give away metaphors of/Owl’s clover, Mariposa lily/and California poppy./They are no use to you/in this shrewd landscape. Do not think of sacrifice./You are just the latest one/the stars have collected/in this wilderness of heat,” the poem reads.

Riedel said public readings are important because it focuses attention on the connection with the reader. She said it’s been a long time since she’s taken the stage to read her own work.

“The reason I like to do readings is that for me it’s a heart connection,” she said. “I’m looking out into these spaces, with all these people I don’t know. I feel like I’m connecting to something in the heart space. I’m touched by their heart as they are by mine.” 

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose once knew a man from Nantucket. Contact her at

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