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Each month, our Literary Laureates share thoughts and writings inspired by Laguna Beach. 

Literary Lagunans: MFK Fisher

The 1930s was a rich time in Laguna’s literary history, with John Steinbeck, Lawrence Clark Powell and Tennessee Williams taking up residence here for a few months or a few years as they honed their literary craft. Joining these American literary icons is Mary Frances Kennedy (M. F. K.) Fisher, best known for writing about food and culture with insight and wit that rivals her masculine counterparts.

Fisher grew up in Whittier, the daughter of a newspaperman. Family connections brought her to Laguna Beach for frequent childhood visits, and it was Laguna that inspired her first published piece. Called “Pacific Village,” it sold to Westways magazine in 1931 for $10, plus $25 for three accompanying sketches.

Perhaps most striking about Fisher’s description of the Pacific Village, which she disguises with the pseudonym “Olas,” is how relevant her observations are still. Consider this excerpt:

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National Poetry Month: Mary Oliver

One of my very favorite poets, Mary Oliver, died this January at the age of 83. Now, with April just around the corner, we are at the start of National Poetry Month, and I can think of no better time to honor Mary Oliver, her work, and her affection for the changing of seasons. Toward that end, I invite you to listen to Mary Oliver reading her tender and moving poem, Wild Geese.

Mary Oliver is a perfect introduction to poetry for the uninitiated because she writes so crisply and accessibly about the natural world around us. Oliver demonstrates a strong command of language, and writes in partnership with it, rather than allow it to overwhelm her.

"One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear," Oliver said in an 2012 interview with NPR. "It mustn't be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now are… they sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn't necessary shouldn't be in a poem."

Simplicity, directness and clarity are great goals to keep in mind for writers penning poems for the 21st Annual John Gardiner Poetry Contest, sponsored by Laguna Beach Library. Named in honor of the beloved local poet who died in 2017, this event celebrates writers of all ages who are encouraged...

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Take Me Out to the Ball-Game
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