.The Hive Poetry’s In-person Readings Return to Bookshop Santa Cruz

Authors Amanda Moore and Dion O’Reilly kick off the bi-monthly Hive Live poetry reading series on Tuesday, July 5

Remember how much you enjoyed being read to when you were a kid? How hearing them read brought you close to poets across time and space? Well the Hive knows and understands. After two plus years of Zoom poetry readings, we’ll soon get a taste of the real thing. 

The Hive Poetry Collective, founded three years ago, provides a swarm of poetry interviews and readings every Sunday on KSQD. And starting Tuesday, July 5, at Bookshop Santa Cruz, the busy Hive entrepreneurs will start a new bi-monthly poetry reading series, in-person, with Amanda Moore and Dion O’Reilly as the first guests. Abuzz with anticipation, members of the group provided insight into what the Hive Live will mean to poets and listeners. I spoke to Hive Collective members Farnaz Fatemi and Dion O’Reilly, as well as Danusha Lameris (a co-founder who calls herself “a friend to the Hive rather than an active member right now”) and recent Hive addition Julia Chiapella about the group’s plans. 

When did the Hive begin?

DANUSHA LAMERIS: The Hive was a dream first dreamt by Farnaz, Lisa Allen Ortiz, and me back in the pre-pandemic years. When I became the Santa Cruz Poet Laureate, we took that opportunity to pitch the idea of a radio show to KSQD and plant the seeds of the Hive as a radio show/podcast as well as an event hub. We envisioned an organization that would enliven the local poetry scene by making new connections between disparate literary groups, united by the desire to hear great poetry. We hoped to bring in more younger people, for example, and to provide a welcome to the faces not always seen at Bookshop events. More people! More poets!

We aim to keep growing the web of well-attended events, new talent, established poets and overall good times and to be a part of expanding Santa Cruz’s reputation as an artistic mecca. 

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A lively community is key to everything: the key to a great town, a good night out and an enriching literary life. So, here’s to that!

FARNAZ FATEMI: The Hive has been actively buzzing since our first KSQD show at the beginning of 2019, our first season of weekly radio shows and podcasting. Later that year, we hosted our first live reading featuring Patricia Smith at the MAH, and we were deep into producing an event with Natalie Diaz when the pandemic arrived. The active Hive members are Dion O’Reilly, Julie Murphy, Julia Chiapella, Victoria Bañales and Farnaz Fatemi. 

What are the goals of the Hive?

FARNAZ FATEMI: Our aspirations are to produce poetry-related events—radio, workshops, readings—that include and reflect the diversity of the county of Santa Cruz, our main constituents and listeners. That diversity of the entire community and the world of poetry continues to drive us. Santa Cruz has always been rich with literary activity, and we are part of that tradition. 

JULIA CHIAPELLA: I see it as advancing the unspoken voices. The canon has always been white and male. It’s important to give airplay to more voices from other communities. Women’s voices are now emerging. It shifted with Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, and now it’s shifting into other colors.

What are some of the future events planned?

FARNAZ FATEMI: As venues have committed to hosting live events again this summer, we have scheduled three bi-monthly poetry events for the second half of 2022. The event on July 5 at Bookshop Santa Cruz celebrates two Covid-time debut books from one of our founding members, Dion O’Reilly, and the San Francisco-based poet Amanda Moore. On September 6, also at Bookshop Santa Cruz, we will celebrate my debut collection, and on November 8, at the Museum of Art and History, we will host Shelley Wong and David Baker. 

Why is poetry powerful? 

DION O’REILLY: Listening together to the same words, the same rhythms is an activity that humans have craved for millennia. It seems to be essential to happiness. We cannot all love the same poetry; we have diverse tastes and tolerances, but we love being in the same room as we open to the lyric moment. Also, the more the world challenges us, the more people turn to poetry. It helps sort out complex emotions in the face of climate change, war and epidemics. But poetry also helps us celebrate beauty. The Hive wants to be part of the celebration.

Will the Hive radio show continue now that there will be a live series?

JULIA CHIAPELLA: The Hive broadcasts will continue on KSQD 90.7 FM every Sunday at 8pm. We’re just adding in-person live readings to our repertoire. We’re richer when we gather in service of the word. Not a collection of saccharine words, real poetry teaches us about ourselves. The Hive is devoted to bringing the community together.

The Hive Live will be presented Tuesday, July 5, at 7pm. Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. Free registration required at bookshopsantacruz.com. Farnaz Fatemi’s debut poetry collection, Sister Tongue, will be released in July.

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