Footsteps of Tradition in the Foothills

by J. Jason Amodeo

Several prolific writers and artists have come from the Sunland-Tujunga area over the decades.

In the 1930s, the notable poet John Steven McGroarty was a resident of Tujunga. He wrote a poem titled “Just California” which had a positive effect on the community and educators alike. That poem soon became mandatory reading in the California school system back in the day.

Many events that have been held in this quaint little town have been hosted by Laureates of Village Poets. In keeping with tradition, Village Poets — a group that meets once every month at the Bolton museum located in Tujunga — is composed of accomplished as well as aspiring poets who gather together to share their passion for writing by orally reading what they created to a group of active listeners. Visitors are also welcomed into this cerebral atmosphere; even if you’re not a writer, the warmth and love of those who are there can make you almost feel like you want to start writing.

If you just go as a spectator, you will find it soothing and intellectually stimulating by the beauty and wonder of poetic words.

This group illustrates what the Romantics believed: that the relationships we build with nature and others defines our lives. History has shown us that personal connections are made through the reading and listening of poetic works simply because you can readily identify with what you’re hearing — which at times can be provocative if not ultimately engaging.

The ancient Greeks were the first to put poetry into writing, and they did so during the 4th century BC. Prior to that, poetry had always been communicated orally. Poetic works contributed to the cultural and intellectual needs of the community.

The same holds true today as you sit inside of the Bolton Hall museum among the Village Poets gazing at the 100-year-old fireplace crafted of stone; the ambiance is perfect and sets the mood for what you’re about to hear.

So how does all this affect the community?

Poetry brings benefits to the community at large, and all forms of writing benefit from poetry. It raises the level of literacy and education. Part of Tujunga’s character is one that traditionally emphasizes the arts as well as cultural projects and programs that foster relationships. This kind of community-building improves the quality of life, and the Village Poets allows a forum for self-expression for the benefit of others as well as cultural development. So find those poems that communicate with the deepest part of you and invite them in.

The next reading by Village Poets is on Sunday, August 28 at 4:30 p.m. at Bolton Museum at 10110 Commerce Avenue in Tujunga. Come by and be with us!

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