An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:The Santa Barbara Writers Conference went on hiatus during the year 2000 due to the closing of the Miramar, thoughts of the Conference were never far from longtime attendees and staff. It was also the year that the conference lost Sparky.
Poetess and workshop leader Perie Longo captures the essence of the loss of the Miramar with the following poem.
Souvenir from the Miramar: Fall, 2000
by Perie Longo
They could be tears, these bougainvillea blossoms,
shed for the passing of the train we won’t hear
come June, we writers who collected at the Miramar
each year, recollected our lives best we could
in fog, sometimes fire, turned anguish
into something approachable and fine,
a keepsake until next time. Without notice
they closed it, restoration the reason,
everything for sale; lights and beds, dressers,
night-stands, a cache of ugly prints torn
from the wall, bolts still stuck in the center
of frame tops. I dragged through the lobby,
dining room, around the pool, peeked
into rooms where the air of years laid down
on tossed mattresses and sighed. Behind
the buildings I wound around yellow tapes
strung to keep us out, crossed the railroad tracks
and eased to the beach glad to see the sand
still there, the gulls, at least the sky’s blue roof.
And conversations about those who leave
this earth without asking our permission.
I save some bougainvillea petals
from the bush near the train tracks where
a gray parrot once mocked our words.
I wanted to gather a whole sprig,
but overnight they collapsed on the counter
like separate words to be rearranged
into something else, something to carry us on,
we weavers and bleeders of words,
something to bring us back.