The celebration was named in perpetuity in 1986 by former mayor Anne Rudin to commemorate the release of Landing Signals, a landmark collection, in print and audio, of the work of local poets. It was the brainchild of poet Bari Kennedy and was embraced and produced by the Sacramento Poetry Center.
The day exists not only because of this singular project and the people who came together at a pivotal time in local literary arts, but because of many who came before as well. All of them, in person or spirit, were a part of the Landing Signals project. Mayor Rudin has always been a generous supporter of the arts in Sacramento, and was always willing to headline a fundraiser when we needed her. She was a real part of the spirit of the times.
But really, the day belongs to all the poets of Sacramento. In perpetuity. That was the true function of the Mayor’s proclamation. If there’s a legacy, that should be it. The project itself is an old laurel, although a good one. And a good ride.
Many of the contributors and participants have left us now, among them Annie Menebroker, Jose Montoya, William Everson (Brother Antoninus), Raymond Carver, Quinton Duval, Ben Hiatt, Ron Tanaka, and Harold Leland Johnson. Damn.
It was a significant work and a significant collaboration, and remains a fine, representative collection. Many people put in a lot of time organizing and fundraising for the project, and the community offered generous support. The book was edited by Annie Menebroker, C.K. Dobbs and Doug Blazek, and the recorded portion by Kennedy and me. It was recorded by Paul Emery at Bennett House in Nevada City. D.R. Wagner’s work graces the cover. His piece gave the collection its title.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who knows his way around publishing poetry, wrote: "I feel that Landing Signals will bring support and definition to the poets of Sacramento who have clearly worked hard at the art of Poetry over the years and are a growing voice."
Here is the text of Mayor Rudin's proclamation:
WHEREAS, October is National Poetry Month and celebrations are noted nationwide; and
WHEREAS, The Sacramento Poetry Center is the publisher of Sacramento's most important literary publication, Quercus, a magazine, and Poet News, a literary review; and
WHEREAS, The Sacramento Poetry Center is, on this day, celebrating the release of Landing Signals, a book and audio cassette anthology of Sacramento poets, which is the most significant local literary endeavor to date; and
WHEREAS, October 26, 1986 represents a turning point for Sacramento's poets;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Anne Rudin, Mayor of the City of Sacramento, do hereby proclaim that October 26, 1986 and its subsequent anniversaries shall be SACRAMENTO POETRY DAY in the City of Sacramento.
Thanks, Patrick! Such an important day is not to be glossed over; its history needs to be preserved.