Poets of the Monterey Bay
by Debra Spencer
Praise for Pomegranate:
The humor and pathos of everyday miracles find their home in Debra Spencers
poetry. Shes a poet of visions and visitationswhether shes re-envisioning the painfulness
of adolescence, speculating on the history of a condom in the street, or tuning in to her
body while singing. The resulting poems are truly spiritual.
Ive always felt a distinct difference between poetry and art. The former, while engaging, is
often conformist; the latter takes chances, prompts thought. In a preponderance of her poems,
Debra Spencer is an artist.
Debra Spencers Pomegranate is a trick-or-treat bagfull of surprises and delights.
We may be beggars and wandererschildren, lovers, and fools. And yet, we know what lies at the heart of lifeso says the narrator of Spencers The Library at Alexandria. All are welcome here.
Maybe if Edna St. Vincent Millay had grown up in the San Fernando Valley in the sixties, and Santa Cruz in the seventies and beyond, she would have written such poems. The voice is playful, pure, wry, passionateat once commonplace and hilarious, dreamy and familiar.
In Pomegranate, youre in your old neighborhood, but all things are possible: little girls might decide to be boys; 300 pound men might dance like weightless angels; parents of teens will act like young lovers; and just maybe Clint Eastwood is Stan Laurels son. What will the beggar say? How will the commune turn out; where will the hitchhiker lead you?
In A Man Comes to the Middle of His Life, another California poet, Dennis Schmitz wrote: We weep for our strangeness. In Debra Spencers Pomegranate, we are gloriously strange, but we do not weep.
Like in the better Raymond Carver poems and stories, we marvel or laugh; we are
reminded of our own humanity.
Debra Spencer invented her own alphabet when she was three. She wrote her first book in the second grade and went on to earn a BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972 and an MA from San Jose State University in 1988, where she won the Anne Lillis Memorial Scholarship for Poetry. In her desk she keeps a Bart Giammati baseball card, a fossilized sharks tooth, the tuning key to an Anglian harp, and a piece of the Berlin Wall. She works at Cabrillo College as a learning disabilities specialist, and sings with Community Music School of Santa Cruz.