26 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JANUARY 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com LIT The Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium has a long and unusual history. It was born out of the National Writers Union, which itself was—until 2020—part of the United Automobile Workers. For the past 30 years, the group has been meeting monthly and reading original poetry in various local venues. The founder of the consortium was poet John Laue, who is still involved and known as “the Dean” of the group. In 2021, Laue passed coordinating responsibilities to poet Kent Leatham, a Carmel Valley native. A “blessing in disguise,” says poet, photographer and longtime host of the readings, Robert Nielsen, about the 39-month Zoom meeting era. Thanks to its online presence, the group attracted more new poets, both local and global (the group has vast archives on YouTube). In September 2023, the Consortium returned to gathering in-person at the Pacific Grove Public Library and in December, Nielsen passed his responsibilities as an MC to Leatham. “We are pretty much up there,” Leatham says, when asked about his dreams for the Consortium. The only task on the “to-do” list is adding livestreaming of the in-person events so as not lose the group’s online following among people who cannot otherwise attend. “We are the oldest continuously operating poetry reading series in the region. My ambition is to keep this tradition unbroken, pushing through as long as we can.” The Consortium meets the second Saturday of each month at 5:30pm. Each time, two poets read their work which, according to Leatham, is a rare and effective formula. “Hearing two voices weaved together can be incredibly inspiring,” he says. Questions from the audience are allowed, if the poet agrees. Despite its serious-sounding name, the Consortium is a very loose affiliation of poets and poetry fans, committed to bring more diverse voices and experiences to the table. “We might not be San Francisco or New York,” Leatham says. “But we have an astonishing number of poets and literary people living in the region who maybe don’t get recognized that often. But you don’t have to win the Pulitzer Prize to be a great poet.” The Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium presents Laura Schulkind and Andrena Zawinski at 5:30pm Saturday, Jan 13. Pacific Grover Public Library, 550 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. Free. kent.leatham.poet@gmail.com. COURTESY OF THE MONTEREY BAY POETRY CONSORTIUM Poetic Union The Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium has been thriving since it was founded in the mid-1990s. By Agata Pop˛eda From left to right: Laura Bayless, John Dotson, Kent Leatham and Robert Nielsen all help run the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium. UPseaside.com • (831) 899-2232 1760 Fremont Blvd, SeaSide UniverSity Plaza SeaSide’S LifestyLe Shopping Center Beer Garden LeaGues TournamenTs Monthly MeMbership - $100 Daily pinball pass - $20 (aDult) $15 (chilD/stuDent/Military hourly pinball - $10 private parties - $10 tuesDay Beer Garden LeaGues TournamenTs LynnsArcAde.com 1760 Fremont BLvd. ste d1, seAside Order Online at HarumiSeaside.Menu11.com (831) 899-9988 Open Daily fOr lunch & Dinner Only the finest and the Freshest