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By Diane Fanucchi

EVERYONE DISCUSSES MY ART AND PRETENDS TO understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” —Claude Monet.

This can apply to any art form, but one art many people find hardest to love is poetry. Maybe Monet’s words explain why.

At some point, probably in school, you’ve likely tried to “understand” a poem, and felt inadequate because you couldn’t figure out the “right” answer. It felt like a test, a test you might fail. Not much to love there. However, if you take a closer look, get to know a particular poem or two, you just may find out you like it. You might even fall in love. And this new love could enrich your life in ways you never imagined.

April is National Poetry Month. This is a great time to start getting to know poetry, and see if you like it, or some of it, after all – to have your first “date,” so to speak. You could go to a reading, find suggestions about good poems to start with, maybe even try writing your own poem.

Jeanie Greensfelder, San Luis Obispo Poet Laureate, knows a few things about learning to love poetry. She started out as a psychologist, in order to try to understand herself and the human condition. As she put it, “I’m interested in people, and how we work.”

Not until much later in her life did she begin to appreciate poetry, and see the connection between psychology and poetry.

For her it started with two poems by Mary Oliver: “The Journey,” and “Wild Geese.” She began to see how poetry can give us psychological insight into the human condition, and speak to us personally.

She suggests sharing a poem you like with others. It might bring you closer together, or help you through a difficult time. Greensfelder uses poems this way in her work as a volunteer grief counselor for Hospice. She says, “The right poem offers the understanding that we seek; a poem can go to the heart of our shared experiences.”

Although she came formally to poetry later in life, Greensfelder thinks we are all born with the capacity to enjoy poetry. She expressed it this way: “Poetry is a natural thing. When we’re young we love rhyme and song. Then we go to school. It’s easy to lose it.” But “there’s pleasure in words.”

She invites: “Poetry is out there for everyone, to experiment with and to own. Every time we create something it expands us, and it feels good.” When someone asks her “when did you become a poet?” She replies, “when did you stop?”

If you want to reconnect with your inner poet, or just give poetry another try, Poetry Month can help. It was founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets (AAP) to become “the largest literary celebration in the world.” One of its goals is simply to “encourage the reading of poems.”

You can go to their website for their list of 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. To find new poems you might love, you can try item 2 – sign up for Poem-a-Day – to receive one poem every day by email.

Item 26 is “Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day today! The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with coworkers, family, and friends.”

This echoes what Greensfelder suggests.

According to the AAP website, “Poem in Your Pocket Day 2018 is on April 26 and is part of National Poetry Month. On this day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.”

Many local libraries give out free copies of poems. Call your branch for details.

There will be local events and readings in SLO County, so you can get involved right in our community.

Leona Guidace, the new director of Arts Obispo, which works as an arm of the California Arts Council, says they will be focusing on poetry for their Art After Dark event in April. Art After Dark takes place in Downtown San Luis Obispo, the First Friday of the month, so in April that will be Friday April 6th.

The specific venues and events are not yet known, but Guidace, herself a poet who knows the power of finding the courage to share your poetic efforts with others, says they’ll be reaching out to vendors who can host a reading or a call for poems. Arts Obispo helps to enrich local visual, literary, and performance arts, and the community. They’ll be inviting local poets to submit poems and participate in readings.

Like Greensfelder, Guidace came to poetry on her own as an adult, in her case after a visual arts education. She finds satisfaction in combining the two. She offers encouragement, both to poets who hold back because they don’t feel qualified to share their work, and to readers who haven’t yet learned to see the power of poetry.

Guidace says, “I want to amplify, enrich, embolden and encourage all of the artists who don’t think that they have a right to have a voice.” She emphasized that poetry can be part of our wellness program, and help us become more still and observant. She says, “I think if one would open their thinking and invite the concept of wellness and humor and enrichment of our well-being, then you would thoroughly enjoy poetry.”

She adds: “It’s so prevalent in many cultures, and it’s such a beautiful art form, and it can be fun too. I would invite anyone to take another look at it or try experiencing it in a different way.”

In conclusion, a few themes keep presenting themselves: Poetry can be fun, playful, and open to anyone; it can be good for our health and well-being; and it can help us understand ourselves, communicate better with others, and experience the beauty and joy of a different approach to language.

So whether you’re a seasoned local poet, or brand new, an appreciative reader, or someone who hasn’t yet discovered how joyful and welcoming poetry can be, this April is a great time to experience the pleasure and power of poetry, and to explore community events that celebrate the poet in each of us.

From Journal Plus

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ALDI Market Moves In: Get Ready for a New, Streamlined Experience

On Thursday, November 8, after months of anticipation, an ALDI Market celebrated its Grand Opening in Arroyo Grande. This ALDI is the 60th in California, and the only one in our area. The store provides a unique, streamlined shopping experience, combining quality and value with a limited, well-chosen selection of items that makes decision making, shopping, and healthy eating easier.

Fewer choices, but the best quality, means you can get in and out more quickly, without so many overwhelming decisions, and still feel confident you’re getting the best choice at a great price.

As the company’s press release put it, “a streamlined selection … removes the guesswork from shopping,” so you don’t have to sift through “two dozen types of peanut butter.”

At least 90% of their products are ALDI-exclusive items, tested for taste and quality in their own test kitchen. Selections include organic items, gluten-free options, and prepared entrees. The focus is on quality and value, but there is plenty of variety as well.

Most of the items are the same at all ALDI stores, but a small part of the selection is also local in nature, depending on the needs and availability of the state or region. For instance, since carne asada is popular in our area, thin-sliced cuts of beef are sold for this purpose, and California-grown produce is featured.

Another unique part of their selection is the inclusion of rotating, seasonally-appropriate items, including some non-edibles. “ALDI sells random items on purpose, … when our customers need them, like rain boots in the spring.”(PR) Each week you can find nearly 100 new “ALDI Finds.”

This week, ALDI finds included toys, luggage, winter pajamas, inflatable beds, sheets, and dog beds — conveniently placed near the dog food. Among other non-food items were plenty of kitchen items and housewares. There was even a sewing machine!

Aldi stores have one innovative practice that may surprise you at first, but that makes good sense. Don’t you hate it when people leave their shopping carts scattered about the parking lot? Not only is it inconvenient, but the store has to pay workers to gather them up, and cover the cost of replacing lost carts.

Instead, at ALDI you rent a cart for 25 cents, return it, and get your quarter back. And you’ve helped make parking easier, and prices more affordable. To help shoppers acclimate, a friendly staff member stands by the carts and demonstrates how it works, and makes sure know how to retrieve your quarter. Forgot a quarter? The store will provide one.

Another part of the streamlined approach is that customers bag their own groceries, but not at the checkout counter. The checker scans your groceries and replaces them in a cart, which you take to the nearby “bagging station,” a counter along the front wall, where you can bag them at your own pace. Not only does this also save money, but it saves time because you – and all the shoppers in front of you – move through the line faster.

While at the store you can pick up an ALDI “Shopper’s Field Guide,” which explains some of the store’s policies and their commitment to quality, which includes NO synthetic colors, MSG, or added trans fats in any of their exclusive brand products. They also have a “twice as nice” guarantee. If you don’t like an item, they will replace it and refund your money.

While some management was brought in from elsewhere to set up the store, most or all of the regular staff are locals, and they seem enthusiastic about this addition to our community. Each staff member rotates through a variety of jobs, and appear friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to serve their neighbors.

The Grand Opening began with a ribbon-cutting at about 8:15 am. on November 8. Shoppers were also able to enter contests for free groceries and sample ALDI’s signature brand items. Regular hours will be 9 am. to 9 pm. daily. There was also a ‘soft’ opening on November 7, with a good turnout, and a chance to get a acquainted with the store before the bustle of the grand opening.

One shopper, doing research for this article, spent under $50 for two large bags loaded with groceries and sundries, including paper goods, produce, and other staples, as well as high-end items like dark chocolate; 100% cranberry juice; Eco-friendly dish soap; and organic olive oil. Even after the five-dollar-off coupon they are generously distributing, that’s a pretty good value, and a nice variety of premium offerings as well.

Most ALDI stores are about 12,000 square feet, so they’re easier to navigate than a larger store, helping you find what you need easily and get in and out, and on with your life, more quickly. According to Tom Cindel, Moreno Valley Group Director of Operations & Logistics at ALDI, each location has a similar layout, so you’ll feel at home whichever ALDI you visit.

The community seems to be positive about the store opening, and it’s great to finally have another grocery shopping option in a well-located center which has lacked a market for several years, since the closing of Cookie Crock, as well as a source of high-quality jobs for locals.

Cindel stated that “working with the Arroyo Grande community has been a pleasure. Everyone has been very welcoming and they are just as excited as we are that ALDI is coming to the neighborhood!”

From Journal Plus

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