Current, retired professors recite their poetry at local bookstore

Lis Sorensen, Channels Staff

The dusty smell of new books permeated the atmosphere as the four writers rehearsed their final poem together, laughing and ready to perform.

Full of family, friends and fans, a cozy back room at the Granada Bookstore held an audience eager to hear the newest works from “Quattro Forma” on Friday, October 18.

Terre Ouwehand, Lana Rose, Jim Chesher and Alice Sharper are all part of the City College family. While Chesher, a Philosophy Professor, and Rose, a counselor, have both retired, English Professor Ouwehand and Sharper, Dean of Arts and Humanities, continue to teach.

Rose, who retired in 2005, stood to read first. Her piece, “Evicting the Spider Squatter,” evoked chuckles from the audience and gave a glimpse of her inner thoughts.

“I like to write about small, existential moments and overlooked objects: a spider peeking out of a sink drain, a certain trajectory of the moon, a cat whisker on the floor of the shower, an abandoned sock in the street,” said Rose in the introduction to her portion of “Quattro Forma.”

Chesher, who retired in 2012 after 22 years in the Philosophy Department, read next.

As a savant of deep thinking many of his poems, such as “E=mc2” and “The Promethean Factor,” were inspired by science. The language of his writing emphasized taking steps back and simply observing the world.

While the other authors each read three poems, Sharper shared a single, long composition.

“This one is very autobiographical and personal. It was dedicated to and written for my brother,” Sharper said before reading “Silence and Fire.”

Sharper’s poetry used the elements of weather to emulate emotions and retell her past.

Ouwehand stood to read last. A teacher at the City College since 1987, Ouwehand plans on retiring within the next few years to spend more time writing, collaborating and publishing.

Her first poem, “My Upstairs Window,” illustrated a peaceful oasis where she could sit in silence, observe the world outside her home and ponder. This habit of seeking a temple of quiet and solitude carried throughout her poems.

The “Quattro Forma” reading concluded with Ouwehand’s “Echoes of a Common Language.” All four writers stood to contribute their voices to the play-like poem.

“It’s gorgeous writing. It’s just gorgeous,” said Ellen Anderson, UCSB’s director of Isla Vista Arts.

Rose, Chesher, Sharper and Ouwehand interacted as though close friends for years, but had met only recently as poets—no longer simply City College colleagues.

“Over the years all of them had shared their poetry with me so I thought an anthology would be a good idea,” Ouwehand said.

“Quattro Forma can be found at the City College Bookstore, Curious Cup Bookstore, Granada Books, The Book Den, Chaucer’s and at all four branches of the Santa Barbara Public Library.

“We’re going to be famous someday; it’s going to be worth millions,” joked Chesher, signing a fan’s copy of the book.