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.

September ‘00

2000 News 12