Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - January 29, 2010

Poetic Pleasanton

Friends of Frost to visit Century House

Did you know Robert Frost was born in San Francisco? That he played varsity football in high school and met Nikita Khrushchev? Now Frost is coming to town to talk about his life and poetry. Well, not exactly, but David Alpaugh, a nationally renowned poet, author and Frost expert, will read some of his best known poems and share little-known background on the poet at "Celebrating Robert Frost" from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 at Century House, 2401 Santa Rita Road. Alpaugh, who lives in Pleasant Hill, lectured on Frost at UC Berkeley Extension and is an outstanding performance poet with a pervasive sense of humor and keen insight on all aspects of poetry.

To top off the "Celebrating Robert Frost" program, a friend of Frost is coming to town. Through the kind suggestion of my neighbor Andrea Liu, I contacted her friend, Dr. Shirley Badger, who personally knew Frost. Dr. Badger is traveling from her home in Chagrin Fall, Ohio, to share some personal reminiscences on the poet at Century House.

Badger is the great-niece of Mrs. Homer Noble who sold Frost one of his many farms in Vermont. Frost wrote some of his most well-known poems in a log cabin on the Homer Noble farm in Ripton. Badger's great aunts Agnes Billings and Eunice Billings Noble were very good friends of Frost. The poet rented a small cottage from Agnes Billings and ate his meals at her house before he bought the farm from Agnes' sister Eunice Noble. Badger knew Frost from her frequent visits to Ripton. For more information and photos of the Homer Noble home, see www.frostfriends.org/ripton.html.

We look forward to hearing poems and learning more about one of America's most famous poets and the former poet laureate of Vermont. Bring along an original poem, one page or less, perhaps in the style of Robert Frost, to read at the open mic. Details on "Celebrating Robert Frost" are available at www.civicartsliterary.org or you may contact Deborah Grossman, Pleasanton's Poet Laureate, at pleasantonpoetry@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/PleasantonPoetry .

This poem is dedicated to Dr. Shirley Badger for coming to Pleasanton to tell some personal stories about the poet.

A Frosty Scene

During chilled days of winter

I imagine summer

sounds of Vermont,

the loud, laughter-laced dinners

at Agnes Billings' Ripton farm

where Robert Frost

shares humorous tales with Agnes

and her sister Eunice Noble.

During dessert, Frost chuckles and cuts

more meaning from an apple

than most people bite off in a lifetime.

He's upstairs now,

debating with Ezra Pound

on whether Imagist poets

are worth their salt.

Later, he attends a poetry slam

where he eyebrows hip-hop artists

and grouches at the multifarious MFAs

of pedigreed poets.

On his way back to Agnes' house

for mirth and warm apple pie,

he'll listen to a bird in the birch

and wonder how anyone

could miss the sound of poetry

during summer in Vermont.

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