OPAL!

Thanks again to all the folks who came out for our OPAL (Oak Park Arts League) meet-and-greet + rapid-fire reading; a really fun event! Thanks again to OPAL and director Julie Carpenter for the use of their beautiful space!
 
 
It’s been interesting trying to figure out what’s the best way to spend campaign funds — flyers, yard signs, etc. I think some TJ’s $5 wine and affordable cheese is not the worst way to go.
 
Especially when supplemented with Kat‘s handmade gourmet treats! We had chai spice marshmallows, orange-wattleseed marshmallows (which I am addicted to), and Meyer lemon rice krispies — normally rice krispies are too sweet for me, but the lemon cut that beautifully. Kat’s getting set up to take orders (and she ships!), so head on over to her page for more info.
 
It was just a really fun event, and I am looking forward to more open mics (not campaign-related) in the future. The next one (“What’s Next?”) will be April 22, 7-9 p.m., at L!ve Cafe. Save the date — we’ll have an event page up very shortly!
 
(Apologies for the quality of the photos — my phone camera really dislikes gallery lighting, it seems!)
 
 
*****
 
OPAL Program
 
M.G. Bertulfo has written for television and children’s education in such venues as CBS, Pearson Education Asia, and Schlessinger; her fiction has appeared in Growing Up Filipino II, Our Own Voice, and The Oak Parker. http://www.mgbertulfo.com/
 
Victor Yipp writes mainly short fiction and is keen on character development. His writing has appeared in Chicago and local newspapers.
 
Allison Baxter teaches English as a Second Language in West Chicago and lives in Oak Park. She’s finishing her second novel, a mystery set in the Chicago neighborhood of Logan Square.
 
Amanda Daly writes science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult audiences.
 
Carleen Tibbetts works in the writing center at Truman college. Her recent poems can be found in DREGINALD, TAGVVERK, The Offending Adam, jubilat, and other publications.
 
Karen Su is part of UIC’s Global Asian Studies Program. She’s working on picture book biographies of Asian American women and women of color artists.
 
russell jaffe teaches at Loyola and College of DuPage and is the author of 4 poetry books , most recently LA CROIX WATER (damask press) and Civil Coping Mechanisms (civil coping mechanisms, forthcoming ’17). He is the founder and editor of TL;DR magazine
 
Kat Tanaka Okopnik writes about social justice, parenting, food, and science fiction while dreaming up new flavors for handmade marshmallows. Find her on FB or at shadesbetween.com
 
*****
 
I read this poem of mine at the end, reposting it here because someone asked if it was available online:
 
Tornado
 
We knew it would rain today, but
driving to the first chemo appointment,
the radio upgrades the warnings _
thunderstorms, yes, the drops hammer
against the windshield. But hail too,
strong winds, the chance of a tornado.
 
The garden is waking slowly, early snowdrops
giving way to scilla and chiondoxa,
tiny and tough. With rising warmth, bluebells
and crocus emerge, daffodils open. Cool whites
and blues are joined by warmer tones; pink
hyacinths release their scent _
washed away in today’s storms.
 
Some flowers may survive. Others will be beaten
down, petals tattered, leaves and stems dragging
in the mud. Tomorrow I will walk my garden
and count the toll of devastation, mourn each
brave blossom — my hands dug them in,
planted them deep, for this?
 
But roots survive, the bulbs beneath the soil.
Most daffodils still hold themselves tight-budded,
will open when the sun returns; the tulips
will spring forth, straight and proud and tall.
 
Into every life a little rain must fall. Last night,
we read over the lists of symptoms and side effects.
No toxins in my soil, but we still pour them
into my body, to fight this strange unwanted growth.
 
At garden club, I ask, despairing, what to do
about the burdock — I dig and dig, but it keeps
coming back, the bastard. A long taproot, tenacious.
She says even eco-conscious sorts
may resort to poison in the end. But rather
than pouring it over the plant, the soil,
they paint it on, delicately, with a paintbrush.
 
The new drugs work like a paintbrush _ focused,
targeted. We hope their poisonous effects
will be lessened and contained. There will still,
undoubtedly, be some damage.
 
We ask the universe for a favor today.
Let the worst of the storms pass us by,
let the tornado touch down, lightly, and rise again.
Let the winds dissipate
while there are still flowers on the bud.
Let the sun return.
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