Jeffers in Big Sur

Though Robinson Jeffers only visited Big Sur occasionally, yet Big Sur was Jeffers’ stage, his backdrop, and even his protagonist. It deserves our attention as Jeffers enthusiasts. Big Sur, in a very real sense, was the rough wild country that Jeffers’ Carmel could never be.

Some time back, Jean Widaman of the Tor House Foundation was organizing an outdoor event at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, and she invited several folks—myself among them—to join Taelen Thomas on the stage to recite some of Jeffers’ poetry. I committed several topical poems to memory for the May 17 event. I’d already stored Boats in a Fog, Night, and others in my head, but this was a Big Sur event, and that called for Big Sur poetry, so I set Oh Lovely Rock, Night Without Sleep, and Return to memory. The mental focus that this demanded helped me to think more about the poems, and I gained a deeper appreciation for them.

I don’t think I was able to communicate my main point as well as I had intended. Things fell behind before I hit the stage and I too ran a bit slow and so wasn’t able to complete my segment. Still, my recitations went well. It was the first time that I’d ever recited poetry through a mic, but I handled it well.

Oddly, Jean had me repeat “Boats in a Fog,” I suppose as a sort of encore? I received a lot of encouraging feedback. I even made a connection with an emmy-winning composer who said he might somehow score me a gig with the Monterey Symphony (as a narrator?)—welcome flattery for a quivering introvert like yours truly. Though nothing is likely to come of it, still, I appreciated the recognition.

Enjoying the show

Enjoying the show at the Henry Miller Library

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