In Celebration of the Muse
In Celebration of the Muse began thirty three years ago as an event to promote, share, and appreciate women’s writing.  Previous to the start of the Muse in the early 1980s, readings had mostly been male-dominated, women’s books rarely got into print or stayed in print, and it was hard to hear women poets since few were invited to read or more likely were not invited at all.  When women’s work was heard, it was framed by male voices. As a result, at the time of the conception of the Muse, there was a real hunger to hear from women with a wide range of voices.

The very first Muse event was organized by Gael Roziere and Patrice Vecchione in 1982 as a benefit for the National Festival of Women’s Theatre.  A few years later Patrice Vecchione and Amber Coverdale Sumrall began coordinating the current series.  When Patrice decided to move on, Dena Taylor came in and she has been coordinating and emceeing with Amber ever since.  Its proceeds have benefitted numerous organizations serving women in Santa Cruz County, including Matrix, the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, Women’s Crisis Support, WomenCARE, and Cabrillo College’s Fast Track to Work program.  The Muse is the county’s longest-running literary event.  It is now held on the Cabrillo College Aptos campus in the Erica Schilling Forum 450 above Soquel Drive.

In 2008, In Celebration of the Muse began a collaboration with Poetry Santa Cruz. In order to further the goal of promoting women’s poetry, the Muse and Poetry Santa Cruz initiated the Maude Meehan Memorial Reading, which will annually bring a major female poet to Santa Cruz in the fall.  In addition, the Muse and Poetry Santa Cruz will annually arrange for the publication of a chapbook by a Muse reader who has not yet published a full-length collection.  In addition, as of 2009 the collaboration now includes the Cabrillo English Department as the sponsoring organization.

Even with all this feminine energy, buzz, and excitement, those of us involved with the Muse are highly appreciative of male support in our lives, in the audience, and at Poetry Santa Cruz.  In addition to establishing a creative venue for women’s voices, In Celebration of the Muse is also coordinated mostly by women and offers women leadership and business opportunities.  One of the long-term results of the Muse has been the development of a strong community of women writers in Santa Cruz, who take their work seriously, are used to appearing in public, publishing and reaching out to each other.

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