Three bold new poetry books from Sugartown Publishing represent the latest fruits of a durable Bay Area poetic grouping known as the Activists, writers linked by years of work with teacher-critic Lawrence Hart of San Rafael (d. 1996). Not political, the term reflects Hart's insistence on poetry as language transformed, intense or "active" in every line. The new books -- Patricia Nelson's Among the Shapes that Fold and Fly, Fred Ostrander's It Lasts a Moment, and Judith Yamamoto' s At My Table ($14.95) -- show the contrasting styles that this common quest produces. Local author John Hart, who continues his father's work with poets, will introduce, invite discussion, and read as well.
Fred Ostrander, who began study with Lawrence Hart in the early 1950s, writes visionary poems that have been described as “complex, subtle, massive, and disturbingly romantic.” It Lasts a Moment crystallizes a career spanning three books and appearances in over ninety periodicals.
Patricia Nelson of San Rafael, whose richly imagistic work has been compared to expressionist painting, is an environmental lawyer by trade. She has appeared in journals including Avocet, Blue Unicorn, Listening Eye, Illuminations, and Presa.
Judith Yamamoto, a longtime Muir Beach resident now living in the City, speaks of the world’s tragedies in language whose homespun textures conceal radical invention. A Marin Arts Council grantee, she has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Partisan Review, Southern Poetry Review, elsewhere. She is a dedicated quilter.
John Hart of San Rafael is the author of 15 nonfiction books and a winner of the Phelan Award and the Commonwealth Club Medal in California. His collection The Climbers is part of the Pitt Poetry Series. He leads the Lawrence Hart Seminars, teaches at Book Passage, and, with Ostrander, helps to edit the admired poetry triquarterly Blue Unicorn.