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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

New poetry anthology aims to capture the soul of Davis

‘Through poetry, we enter the soul of the city’ are the words that pop out the most on The Davis Poetry Book Project’s website. These words are the driving force behind a project that is working toward publishing a book of poems about Davis written by anyone who has been moved by the city.

All are invited to submit their original poems to be published in the book.

Allegra Silberstein, the current poet laureate of the city of Davis, was inspired to create a book of poems about Davis in 2001, after Sacramento produced its own book of poems.

“I thought it was a great idea and [that] I would love if Davis did the same thing. I believe poetry is a way of getting into the soul of a city. Poetry can be the other voice of a person or a city,” Silberstein said.

The project launched this year with Silberstein as the project leader and contest judge. The launch of the project was made possible with a grant from the city of Davis, which Silberstein didn’t anticipate but is grateful for.

“I received a generous grant from the city which was just amazing,” Silberstein said. She declined to state the exact amount of the grant.

Silberstein will be working with Danyen Powell, a local poet who is the leader of the Tuesday night poetry workshops in Davis, and Dr. Andy Jones, a local poet as well as a University Writing Program professor at UC Davis, to select the poems that will be printed in the anthology.

Silberstein says that each judge has different criteria when it comes to picking which poems they want to include in the anthology. The finished book will be about 60 pages long.

“The poems we’ll pick will have an “a-ha, yes” moment that awakens a response in you. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. You read that poem and you say “Yes!” It’s a kind of recognition you know when you read it,” Silberstein said.

Briony Gylgayton is the project manager and webmaster. She is also a poet and was recently featured with local poet Traci Gourdine in a poetry reading series titled “The Other Voice.” Silberstein inspired her to begin working with The Davis Poetry Book Project.

“I became involved with the project because I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Poetry is often marginalized, and this anthology will allow more people to realize its value and enjoy its specific art form,” Gylgayton said. “Because the poetry will celebrate Davis, members of the Davis community may be more willing to give poetry a chance, as the subject matter will already be familiar to them.”

Silberstein hopes that when the books are published by a local printing company, people far and near will be able to learn more about Davis.

“I’m hoping a lot of people will buy the books to give as gifts to enhance the appreciation of the city. The city is so beautiful and more people should know about its appeal,” Silberstein said.

Gylgayton agreed and said that’s not all they hope to achieve with the books.

“Once the anthologies are printed, we hope to bring them to local schools, to introduce students to poetry in an accessible and relatable way, as well as to introduce them to their community by way of a meaningful, personal medium,” Gylgayton.

Brandon Jackson, a sophomore English major, thought the project was unique and ingenious.

“I think it’s a great way to publicize local artists. There is plenty of talent in Davis to showcase,” Jackson said.

Silberstein believes that anybody can be a poet, which is why anyone can submit poems to the book. Poems have the uncanny ability to speak to any subject.

“There is a poet in everyone. If they’re inspired to write, just write it. Sometimes, people who don’t think they’re poets come out with the most amazing things,” Silberstein said.

Currently, the project has already received some submissions, and there is still room for anyone to submit their work.

More information about the project and submission can be found at davispoetrybook.com.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.



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