With Literary Scene in Pasadena Blossoming, Red Hen Press Celebrates and Celebrates

2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters2017 Red Hen Press Pre-Gala Party at New Headquarters

by EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor

6:42 am | November 13, 2017


“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom,” wrote the poet Robert Frost. Thus was poet A.E Stallings introduced by poet and writer Dana Gioia at the 23rd annual Red Press Champagne luncheon Sunday afternoon at the Westin, before she read a short selection of her own works to a rapt audience.

“A poem is a beat. It’s a dance,” Giaoa continued. “A speech raised to the level of music.”

It was that kind of heady afternoon, replete with staid, kooky, quirky and refined grownups who spoke in complete sentences, downed champagne and celebrated writing in all its forms.

The afternoon was doubly celebrative as the Pasadena-based nonprofit publisher formally announced its new headquarters at 1540 Lincoln Avenue, generously donated by Joe Usibelli and Peggy Shumaker.

The new offices — in a former church building — will act as both a home for the Press, and as a community literary center that will host readings, writing workshops and after-school programs.

Red Hen Press broke ground on the new location in September, commemorating the beginning of several restoration projects needed to convert the building into a space suitable for the Press’ needs.

Founder Kate Gale also told the audience about her first job application in which she wrote in answer to the query, “Sex” on an application form, “Not yet, but hopefully soon.” She had given that same “hopeful” answer to the ongoing question of the group’s permanent space for too many years, she confided to the audience, happily.

Meanwhile, Stallings, like exuberant poet Camille Dungy—who brought tears to her introducer’s eyes, even before speaking— and Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, came festooned with a host of literary awards, including a MacArthur fellowship, an NEA Grant, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Dungy’s work has twice been awarded the Northern California Book Award, and has appeared in over 100 anthologies.

Young poet Matthew Wise of Pacoima Charter School also made his formal Red Press Debut.

Gale, and poet Brendan Constantine moderated the afternoon which also featured appearances from noted authors Eloise Klein Healy, Ishmael Reed, Judy Grahn, Laurel Ann Bogen, Luis Rodriguez, Patt Morrison, and Ron Carlson, and Jonathan Gold. (Food critic Gold left a trifle early, ducking out through the kitchen, naturally.)

Funds raised through the benefit luncheon will continue to support Red Hen Press and its three flagship programs: publishing, Writing in the Schools, and literary events.

One of the few literary presses in the Los Angeles area, Red Hen Press was founded in 1994 by Gale and Mark E. Cull with the intention of keeping creative literature alive. Since that time, the publishing house has grown substantially and now publishes between 20 and 30 books each year.

The Press also hosts reading series in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and London, and runs a Writing in the Schools program that connects published authors with Title I schools to promote literature and literacy.

Red Hen Press continues to be a non-profit press specializing in the publication of poetry, literary fiction, and nonfiction. Red Hen Press publishes work of literary excellence, supports diversity, and promotes literacy in the local schools and community.

More information about Red Hen Press and its work, is available at www.redhen.org.