Coalesce Bookstore celebrates 40 years with a book of poetry

slinn@thetribunenews.comOctober 14, 2013 

Morro Bay’s Coalesce Bookstore is celebrating its 40th anniversary by publishing a book.

The second book ever published by Coalesce Press, “Where Our Palms Rest” features poems by four local writers — Beverly Boyd of Los Osos, Carol Alma McPhee of San Luis Obispo, Joann Rusch of Los Osos and Bonnie Young of Arroyo Grande — paired by black-and-white photos by Boyd’s husband, R. David Bowlus. (He also photographed the gorgeous sunset that graces the book’s cover.)

The book, which takes its title from a line in McPhee’s poem “Covenant,” comes 13 years after the publication of Coalesce Press’s first book, “Homeless Poems” by Kevin Hull.

“In spite of the fact that independent bookstores are failing right and left across the country — or maybe because of that — we have been doing well at Coalesce,” said Linna Thomas, who founded Coalesce Bookstore with Janet Brown in July 1973.

Thomas, 66, decided to celebrate that good fortune by publishing a locally designed and printed book of poetry — lovely, but hardly a guaranteed hit.

“I’ve always loved poetry and read poetry myself but I know what a tough sell it is,” she said. “It does not fly off the shelves unless you’re Mary Oliver or Billy Collins.”

Still, Thomas thinks readers near and far will appreciate Boyd, McPhee, Rusch and Young’s observations about motherhood, nature, illness and other subjects — which range from wry to raw, thoughtful to fearless.

The overall theme, according to Thomas, is “the issue of aging with grace and courage.”

“That issue is way bigger than our community but I certainly think that it is a community issue,” said the store owner, who hopes to carry “Where Our Palms Rest” in other local bookstores in addition to Coalesce. “I want this book to have the widest possible readership and be on as many bookshelves as possible.”

Boyd, McPhee, Rusch and Young will read from “Where Our Palms Rest” and sign copies of the book Oct. 20 at Coalesce Bookstore’s Garden Chapel, 845 Main Street in Morro Bay.

The free event from 1 to 3 p.m. includes food, bever- ages and music by classical guitarist Jeff Bright.

For more information, call 772-2880 or visit http://coalescebookstore.com .

• • •

Here are two other books recently published by Central Coast poets:

Described as a “poetry memoir,” “Biting the Apple” traces Jeanie Greensfelder’s development from shy child to uncertain young mother and wife to self-assured woman in her prime. Bullies, basement monsters and Captain Marvel comic books all make appearances in this book, published in December 2012.

In “For the Day,” published in October 2012, Patti Sullivan delves into deeply personal territory — with whimsical yet wistful poems about pain, poverty, plenty and family. Sullivan is married to poet Kevin Patrick Sullivan, founder of the San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival and organizer of the monthly poetry reading series Corners of the Mouth.

‘WHERE OUR PALMS REST’

By Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch and Bonnie Young, Coalesce Press $16

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