As San Luis Obispo poet Kevin Patrick Sullivan writes in his editor’s note for “Corners of the Mouth: A Celebration of Thirty Years at the Annual San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival,” San Luis Obispo County is blessed in many ways.
“One of them,” he continues, “is the quality of the poets who call the Central Coast home.”
“Corners of the Mouth” features works by 145 poets, about a third of them local, who have participated in the San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival since its creation by Sullivan and author Karl Kempton in July 1983. The newly published anthology makes its official debut Nov. 14 at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art as part of this year’s poetry festival
Given the festival’s rich history, and the lack of video and audio recordings of past readings, Sullivan said an anthology “just seemed like the thing to do.”
In addition to establishing “a concrete record of the festival,” he wanted “to put local poets on equal footing (with their peers), to say,
‘Hey, listen, this work can stand alongside any work in the nation,” he said.
Designed by Youssef Alaoui Fdili with cover art by Kempton, the 378- page book is organized alphabetically by poet and features works by the likes of James Cushing, Ray Clark Dickson, Jane Elsdon and current San Luis Obispo County poet laureate Marguerite Costigan. It includes a near-complete list of festival participants by year.
“It’s a beautiful book,” said Sullivan, who edited the anthology with his wife, poet Patti Sullivan.