Mary Rudge

The city is seeking a new poet laureate. Applications are due July 10.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly, two-sentence news review. Here are your headlines.

About 300 volunteers showed up for an old-fashioned park raising Saturday at the future Jean Sweeney Open Space Park, to weed, mulch, paint a mural and build planter boxes and compost bins for a future community garden at the 22-acre park. Donna Eyestone stopped by and captured this video of Saturday's event.

Mary Rudge, Alameda’s longtime poet laureate, has died. Friends described Rudge as a woman who gave tirelessly to her community, raised a family and practiced her art in the face of incredible personal obstacles, traveling the world to spread her message of peace and working locally to boost literacy and access to her chosen form of expression.

Alameda's poet laureate, Mary Rudge. Photo by Kristen Hanlon.

On a recent warm April afternoon, I found Mary Rudge at Alameda’s Multicultural Community Center. She likes to spend most weekday afternoons there, writing, checking her e-mail, and helping facilitate events such as the annual Alameda Student Poetry Contest. Rudge is the City of Alameda’s first-ever poet laureate, a title she’s held since 2002, and has lived in Alameda for over 50 years. She has published numerous books and chapbooks and spoken internationally at schools, cultural centers, libraries, poetry groups, and peace events; she also raised seven children. On May 11, Rudge will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Berkeley Poetry Festival. Currently, Rudge is working on updating a book she published a decade ago, Jack London’s Neighborhood: a Pleasure Walker’s and Reader’s Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda.

Poem appears courtesy of Mary Rudge.

BUTTERFLY POEM
Mary Rudge

When the world was only a word
in the cocoon of time
a filament of silk spun in the cosmic
mind
to web the dimensions of space
with motion, a turning, unwinding,
emerging, beginning of creations all equal,
dust mote and stone, after the stars
before sunbeam in dew sparked an inner light,
there flashed out flecks of delight
with stained glass wings
to flutter in tensile strength
refracting rainbows, reflecting all that is
bright.

And in the rite of passage, leaving the flower
of the world in full bloom
beyond decay, released to sky,
even we, transformed,
leap from a body’s spun threads
to butterfly flight.