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

Literary Lagunans:

John Steinbeck

Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck is first up in our feature on Literary Lagunans. John and Carol Henning Steinbeck were frequent visitors to Laguna Beach in the 1930s. Introduced to southern California by John’s best friend and acclaimed naturalist Ed Ricketts, the Steinbecks often accompanied Ricketts on his collection trips to Laguna Beach and other seaside locales, where they gathered specimens of sea stars, octopi and the like for research and study. The Steinbecks rented a cottage at 504 Park Avenue for their longer stays, and reportedly were in town during the 6.4 magnitude earthquake centered off the shore of Long Beach in March 1933. It was during this period that Steinbeck penned his early short stories and novellas, The Pastures of Heaven (1932), The Red Pony (1933) and To a God Unknown (1933). If you want to know more about the ocean that Steinbeck and Ricketts explored in the 1930s, read Ricketts’ book, Between Pacific Tides, available in the Reference Section of the Laguna Beach Library. The library also has many of Steinbeck’s works in book and audio book format.

-Lojo Simon


June 2018

Poetry Knows No Age
By Lojo Simon

Local poet John Gardiner was a familiar face in the Laguna Beach literary scene. Each year up until his death in October 2017, he presided over the Laguna Beach Poetry Contest, funded by Friends of the Library. This year, the 20th annual contest was held in his honor and renamed the John Gardiner Community Poetry Contest. Winners presented their poems at the library June 2nd.

If you’ve never been to the library to hear the contest winners read their entries aloud, you might be surprised to find that winning writers come in all shapes and sizes, starting with the youngest poets, who are only six or seven years old. Their poems are honest, straightforward and sometimes profound. As first-grade poet Grayson Grzeskowiak penned this year, “All people and animals should get along/Just follow the golden rule.”

Poetry defies the boundaries of age, race, gender, religion and nationality in a powerful way. It offers insight into specific perspectives while simultaneously illuminating universal human truths. The best poems take you someplace you’ve never been, yet someplace you already know. Poetry awakens your heart, and that’s a great gift the writer gives to the reader. So, thank you to all the poets who entered their work in this year’s contest, and keep on writing!

The Chair
By Daniel McGinn, Winner, Adult Category

Another poet’s chair is empty
like the clothing the poet used to wear
and the place at the table where John

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April 2018

March 2018

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