Remember how much you loved being read to when you were a kid? How did hearing them read bring you closer to poets across time and space? Well, the Hive knows and understands. After more than two years of Zoom poetry readings, we’ll soon get a taste of the real thing.
The Hive Poetry Collective, founded three years ago, offers a host of talks and poetry readings every Sunday on KSQD. And starting Tuesday, July 5, at Bookshop Santa Cruz, the busy entrepreneurs of Hive will launch a new bi-monthly, in-person poetry reading series with Amanda Moore and Dion O’Reilly as first guests. Buzzing with anticipation, the band members gave a glimpse of what Hive Live will mean for poets and listeners alike. 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 of the Hive rather than an active member right now”) and the Hive’s recent addition Julia Chiapella about the band’s projects.
When did the Hive start?
DANUSHA LAMERIS: The Hive was a dream first dreamed up by Farnaz, Lisa Allen Ortiz and me in the pre-pandemic years. When I became Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz, we took this 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 a center of events. We imagined an organization that would enliven the local poetry scene by creating new bonds between disparate literary groups, united by the desire to hear great poetry. We hoped to attract more young people, for example, and welcome faces that you don’t always see at Librairie events. More people! More poets!
Our goal is to continue to grow the network of well-attended events, new talent, established poets and overall good times, and to help expand Santa Cruz’s reputation as an artistic mecca.
A vibrant community is the key to everything: the key to a great city, a great night out, and a rewarding literary life. So this is it !
FARNAZ FATEMI: The Hive has been buzzing actively since our first KSQD show in early 2019, our first season of weekly radio shows and podcasts. Later that year, we hosted our first live reading with Patricia Smith at the MAH, and we were in the process of producing an event with Natalie Diaz when the pandemic hit. Active members of Hive are Dion O’Reilly, Julie Murphy, Julia Chiapella, Victoria Bañales and Farnaz Fatemi.
What are the objectives of the Hive?
FARNAZ FATEMI: Our aspirations are to produce poetry-related events – radio, workshops, readings – that include and reflect the diversity of Santa Cruz County, our core constituents and listeners. This diversity of the whole community and of the world of poetry continues to animate us. Santa Cruz has always been rich in literary activity, and we are part of that tradition.
JULIA CHIAPELLA: I see it as advancing unspoken voices. The canon has always been white and masculine. It is important to broadcast more voices from other communities. Women’s voices are emerging now. It changed with Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, and now it’s moving on to other colors.
What are some of the planned future events?
FARNAZ FATEMI: As venues have re-committed to hosting live events this summer, we have scheduled three bi-monthly poetry events for the second half of 2022. The July 5 event at Santa Cruz Bookstore celebrates two first books from one of our founding members, Dion O’Reilly, and San Francisco-based poet Amanda Moore. On September 6, also at the Santa Cruz bookstore, we will celebrate my first collection, and on November 8, at the Museum of Art and History, we will welcome Shelley Wong and David Baker.
Why is poetry powerful?
DION O’REILLY: Listening to the same words, the same rhythms together is an activity that humans have dreamed of for millennia. It seems to be essential to happiness. We cannot all love the same poetry; we have varying tastes and tolerances, but we like to be in the same room that we open at the lyrical moment. Also, the more the world challenges us, the more people turn to poetry. It helps untangle complex emotions in the face of climate change, war and epidemics. But poetry also helps us celebrate beauty. La Ruche wants to be part of the party.
Will the Hive radio show continue now that there will be a live series?
JULIA CHIAPELLA: Hive shows will continue on KSQD 90.7 FM every Sunday at 8 p.m. We are simply adding live in-person readings to our repertoire. We are richer when we come together in the service of the word. Not a collection of sweet words, real poetry teaches us about ourselves. The Hive is dedicated to bringing the community together.
The Hive Live premieres Tuesday, July 5 at 7 p.m. Santa Cruz Bookstore, 1520 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. Free registration required at bookshopsantacruz.com. Farnaz Fatemi’s first collection of poetry, Sister Tongue, will be released in July.