New Library Display Honors South Pasadena Poet Laureate Ron Koertge
In honor of Ron Koertge, South Pasadena’s first Poet Laureate, the Library has set up a display of books inside its main entrance. The display contains checkout copies of Ron’s poetry books, as well as circulating copies of books by other top poets, including Dana Gioia, California State Poet Laureate, another South Pasadena resident. Also represented in the display are books by Juan Felipe Herrera and Al Young, two former California State Poet Laureates who have also appeared in recent years for Author Nights at the South Pasadena Public Library. Juan Felipe Herrera was later appointed the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States from 2015 to 2017.
A widely published writer, Ron is an ambassador for the art of poetry, reading his poems and works by others at various functions around the city. Ron has resided in South Pasadena for more than 35 years and has taught writing at a number of universities, including Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at Pasadena City College for more than 37 years. Mr. Koertge has also been a prominent fixture on the Los Angeles poetry scene for decades and the author of more than a dozen acclaimed poetry collections, including “Dairy Cows,” “Life on the Edge of the Continent,” “Making Love to Roget’s Wife,” and “Indigo,” The Library collection also offers his 10 works of fiction. Almost all of Ron’s books in the Library collection are available for checkout, although a few special, rare, and/or signed editions are for use only in the Library.
The Library checkout collection contains Ron’s newest title, “The Yellow Moving Van,” published in October, 2018 as well as two earlier works, “Geography of the Forehead” and “Fever” that Ron and his wife Bianca Richards recently donated. Bianca is also one of the two new members of the Library Board of Trustees who officially began their duties at the January 10th meeting. Bianca is past President of WISPPA and a lifelong resident of South Pasadena who recently retired after almost 30 years as a Counselor and Coordinator for Disabled Student Programs and Services at Pasadena City College.
Debra Beadle is the other new Library Trustee. She has lived in South Pasadena since 2002 and currently works as the Director of Philanthropic and Educational Services for ABS Legacy Partners where she helps clients fulfill their charitable giving goals. Debra previously served on the South Pasadena Ad Hoc Community Center Committee.
Appointed new President of the Library Board of Trustees for 2019 is David Uwins, a longtime local resident and Bookstore Volunteer for the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, David was previously the Information Technology Director of United Health Care and a former employee of the Los Angeles Times. The other Library Trustees are former President Brendan Durrett, a Law Librarian for a large firm in Downtown LA and Alan Jutzi, who recently retired after a distinguished career at the Huntington Library in San Marino.
With input from the community, Ron Koertge has also written “Ode to South Pasadena.” It’s a commemorative poem about the city, looking back as it also celebrates South Pasadena’s vibrant present. As he was composing the “Ode” Ron asked for ideas from the community and the response was robust. So in a very real sense, the ode is a collaborative effort. The ode was officially presented to the City Council at their meeting on December 19, 2018. A copy of the poem is posted by the Library Poetry display.
Ron Koertge and Bianca Richards by the Library Poetry Display - Photo Credit: Steve Whitmore, South Pasadena Review
Ode to South Pasadena
by Ron Koertge
Water made the orange groves possible though all that remains now is
the name of a boulevard that celebrates them just as Mission Street
and El Centro celebrate the heritage of the city. Today kids in orange-and-
black drink root beer floats at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda
Fountain as they flirt with their phones. Parents wait for a table at Gus’s
Barbeque, and grandparents snap pictures of toddlers around the
enormous Moreton Bay Fig Tree by the library as they remember when they
were children grinning into their own fathers’ cameras. The Cawston
Ostrich Farm is just a memory but the Dinosaur Farm opens at ten a.m.
Waiting on the shelves at Vidéothèque are films that debuted at the
Rialto Theater in 1925. Hollywood has a second home here, transforming
parts of the city into Indiana or Massachusetts. Then crews dismantle
everything the next day, leaving the neighborhood intact just as relentless
freeway fighters kept the city whole and undivided. Beauty is
everywhere in South Pasadena. Early morning light, yellow and mild like
a shawl that has been laundered a few times, falls across joggers and
commuters. It wakes the parrots that circle and squawk. Passengers on
the Gold Line put on their sunglasses. Just below Grand Avenue,
a pair of coyotes make their way back to the arroyo. As a truck bound for
Trader Joe’s rumbles by, they slide into some shrubbery and
disappear. On the lawn a sign says HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.
A house sparrow and a robin land and begin to sing.