Santa Cruz, California is a place of convergences. Here the Central Coast Range meets the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay Area meets the Southern California coast, the new economies of Silicon Valley and service tourism meet the fishing and farming economies that preceded them. So, too, do differing poetic communities converge here in Santa Cruz. Poetry Santa Cruz, an influential, independent organization has showcased what roughly might be called “mainstream” poetry for many years, to great effect. The University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as the shoestring A New Cadence Poetry Series, out of the downtown’s Felix Kulpa Gallery, garner diverse audiences for the challenging Language-derived (sometimes…) work that is often unsatisfactorily called experimental, or innovative, poetry. There is a thriving open-mic and slam scene, here, as well (both on and off campus).
Santa Cruz is a place where the diverse, sometimes contentious world of contemporary American poetry circulates in microcosm. This pluralism of clash and coexistence is what constitutes Santa Cruz’s poetry scenes, and it drives this issue of Perihelion, the first under the editorship of Dion Farquhar and James Maughn. We aim, in this issue, to embrace the contradictions these poetries perform--of gift and power, of abjection and death, of circulation, connection, and commitment to language. That sharing is what makes poetry communities work—a complex mix of the prescriptive, proscriptive, an always-already pluralist compromise.
Of course, there is, as always, much that was left out. Whether due to queries that went unheeded, or mistakes on the part of the editors, or, simply, out of a desire to keep the thing to a manageable size, there are poets who should be here, and are not. These omissions simply demonstrate the impossibility of adequately representing the poetic communities of even a town the size of Santa Cruz. More could, and perhaps should, be included here, but we feel this issue of Perihelion at least opens the door for further investigation. Enjoy.