ALAMEDA -- Many long-time supporters of Alameda's first poet laureate, Mary Rudge, offered poetry and a tribute to her memory at a Jan. 28 memorial service at Greer Family Mortuary.
Filipino poet Lourdes Costales reminded the gathering of Rudge's compassion for the suffering of women throughout history through her reading of Rudge's poem, "Blessing": "May everyplace you look stones become bread, may mangos and papayas and pineapples fall into your hands, may you feed the hungry and give them flowers ... may children of all people be your children and all people be your family ... "
Costales also read about Rudge's ability to see beauty in everything from Rudge's poem, "This Is the Day": "Oh you iridescent butterfly-winged day, Oh you day beyond dawn mist, beyond comet and night calling creatures and those who even by rubbing their legs make rhythmic notes ... Oh silk and bamboo day of stringed song where colors breathed from all this fragrance pulsate in the brain on a day of dazzle of leaves, of whirling molecules that dance right through our dance ..."
Charles Lopez Sr. turned one of Mary Rudge's poems into song and sang a capella for her family.
Noted beat poet Jimmy V. Lyons, a family friend and collaborator with Rudge, summed up her compassionate, poetic and artistic vision.
"Mary was the all in the sum of parts, in inventiveness both subtle and replete," he said. "Hearing her once dispelled all doubts of her conciliatory affinity for the human condition. In her final posture, she let her body go, and it flowed out of her like a luminous bird in flight, to the unwritten score now cradled in beatific harmony, to reside in the illumination of our souls."
The memorial Mass, held at St. Barnabas Church on Jan. 29, was filled with Rudge's favorite hymns, such as "On Eagle's Wings" and "Morning Has Broken."
Father Dana P. Michaels presided over the Mass, and Rudge's collaborator, Natica Angilly of Artists Embassy International, gave the first reading. The second reading was presented by poet Amy Estrada. The eulogy, read by Marjorie Lynne Wagner, was from Rudge's poem, "Butterfly" and summed up the Mass: "And in the rite of passage, leaving the flower of the world in full bloom beyond decay, released to sky, even we, transformed, leap from a body's spun threads to butterfly flight."
On Wednesday, from 7 to 9 p.m., Alameda Island Poets has scheduled a special memorial reading for Mary Rudge at Books Inc., 1344 Park St.
Poets are encouraged to read a favorite poem by Rudge, a poem inspired by her or one of their own that Rudge particularly favored. On the same evening, the featured reader is Kirk Lumpkin, a long-time friend and supporter of Rudge.
Lumpkin is the author of two books of poems entitled, "Co-Hearing" and "In Deep." His poetry/music band "The World Music Continuum" has released two CDs. Lumpkin has read poetry in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York City, Colorado, Toronto, Canada, and in England under the auspices of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
He has been featured on KPFA's Cover-to-Cover Open Book program and has helped facilitate the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in Berkeley. Lumpkin has served as the director of the Ecology Center and Berkeley Farmers' Market for more than 20 years.