It’s so very human to feel sad when good things end—and Cadence Collective has been one of the best things. It feels like forever ago now when, one day in the summer of 2013, a bright-eyed Sarah Thursday (just recently christened as her poet self) bounced into the Poetry Lab in downtown Long Beach, pronouncing that she was going to start a poetry website to publish Long Beach poets, and she was going to call it Cadence Collective.
We had known each other for less than a couple of months at that point, but I had already fallen into friendship love with this passionate, fiery woman, so I had little doubt that what she declared would come to pass.
Little did I know that that website (which sure enough published a poem a day from local poets) would go on to become Sarah's beloved local poetry press, Sadie Girl, putting dozens of local poets into print, and a monthly reading series—the Cadence Collective Second Monday Poetry Party—when Sarah joined forces with the one and only G. Murray Thomas.
These two have been hosting a monthly Cadence reading since 2014, I believe, and this reading has brought so many poets together, and more than that, out of their shells and into the spotlight. I am one of those poets and I am so unbelievably grateful to have been so gracefully and effortlessly accepted by my community of poets.
From its original incarnation at Gatsby Books to its current location at Fox Coffee, Sarah and Murray have held space for I want to say hundreds of poets to find and share their voice. We all know this is important, but we don’t all spend our free time making sure that any soul out there has a space to go to be heard. Sarah and Murray do.
By its last night, Cadence had become a seasoned holding space full of familiar faces. I remember Cadence’s first birthday party complete with a homemade cake by Peggy Dobreer, and all the laughter on that day. Even though the crowd changes and grows and expands—some leave, some arrive, some take off and come back again—Cadence connects us as much today as it did when it was an exuberant toddler.
Poets are a funny breed. We feel a lot and cry a bunch and write about our thoughts and feelings, and we can get real deep, real quick. You can get to know someone’s innermost fears and desires in 3 minutes at an open mic, more than you know about your own mother, and not even know their last name. It’s anonymous and personal and strong and vulnerable all at the same time, and it’s generally a safe space to show our underbellies. Then, we casually mill about after bleeding our hearts all over each other, awkwardly coughing into our sleeves, feeling exposed.
Thanks to the generous spirits of Sarah and Murray, this awkward poet anxiety is generally minimized by Sarah’s gregarious and quite vocal endorsement of everyone she adores, even and sometimes especially if she just met you, and Murray’s consistent chill presence that is totally and completely devoid of judgment and somehow effortlessly accepting. This is the energy that these two hosts have brought to our poetry community for the past 5 years. And I think I can speak for many of us when I say we are deeply and endlessly grateful.
All good things must end. Such is the natural flow of life, and it’s time for Murray to move back to his home state of New York after many many years of letting us borrow him. I know it will be strange not running into Murray at this place or that, but I also know all good things live on in some way. Cadence and Murray will forever be a part of Long Beach poetry history, and embedded in our hearts.
Part of the creative process is going with the flow and as sad as I am to have this reading end, I look forward to what these two dynamic artists will do next. Maybe Murray will find that flash of lightning back in New York and with all that fresh space, we’ll get a new book of poems soon, and celebrate when he comes back to visit. I know that whatever Sarah conjures up next, whatever the next reading series looks like, it will no doubt be an energized extravaganza. People like Sarah and Murray are naturally always supporting and holding space for others, so I wish them both the rejuvenating rest they need during this transition, and many fruitful openings ahead.
I couldn’t make it to the special Sunday going away Cadence yesterday, but I wouldn’t miss this last Cadence reading for the world. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans happened yesterday but today, Sarah and Murray were gifted bottles of wine by Patrick Verebely, and Murray was handed a “Poet Laureate of Southern California” ‘bullshit academy award’ and personalized desk placard reading “Talented Motherfucker” by regular reader and last official feature of Cadence, Linda Singer. So perfect!
In lieu of flowers, this is my homage to one of the most meaningful and significant community events in my life. Since that unforgettable summer when Sarah and I first found out we were undeniably poets and then proceeded to rampage all over southern California to collect our tribe, Cadence has been a place where I know I will see faces I know, hug people I love, and hear poems I like. Cadence has been a place where I have grown so much as an artist and more than that, found a place where I know I belong. No matter how long I have been away, I know that when I get to the mic, I will be seen. I will be heard. My heart will be witnessed.
What a gift it is to have a place to share, to listen, and to be listened to. For those of you out there who know what I mean, let’s nod at each other through the screens. For those of you who don’t know what I mean, I wish you may experience the monthly warm hug that is and has been the Cadence Collective poetry readings. From the deepest well of gratitude, thank you.