Poet Traci Gourdine is the first of a dozen or more writers who have been invited to speak at the Senior Center this winter and spring. The woman behind the "literary locals" series is Kellie Paluck, 30, a relative newcomer to Davis who had no idea that Davis had such an abundance of interesting writers or seniors. Sometimes both.
"My husband and I were both starving freelance writers in New Hampshire before we moved out here a little more than a year ago," she said.
Kellie and her husband, Adrian, met at another UC, University of Colorado, Boulder, in a creative writing program. Kellie didn't mind moving to California but she wanted a small, quiet town with trees.
"I thought I'd be writing short stories and novels at home," she said.
In short order, however, Kellie found herself job-hunting and a part-time job at the Senior Center seemed perfect. She immediately began setting up a very eclectic speaker/writer/literature series based on suggestions from other people and her own research.
"I've really gotten to know the community well by doing this," she said. "I just began calling people and they gave me the names of other people and it snowballed. People are very generous with their time and everyone agreed to do it without pay."
Local poet and writer Traci Gourdine will offer a free public reading Thursday, Jan. 11, at 12:30 p.m. at the Davis Senior Center, 646 A St. Gourdine teaches creative writing at American River College and at prisons throughout the state. She is the chair of the creative writing department for the California State Summer School for the Arts.
Doris Earnshaw, who has published several collections of speeches by women politicians, will share another interest in a lecture on Jan. 25 at 12:15 p.m. in which she will introduce listeners to her favorite Japanese and Chinese classics.
On Feb. 8 at 12:15 Emeritus Professor Murray Fowler of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine will read from his autobiography, "Murray: Hummingbirds to Elephants and Other Tales."
On Feb. 13 at 4 p.m., Eleanor Roosevelt will give a lecture on her famous First Lady relative in "Before I Forget: Remembering Eleanor Roosevelt."
Kellie has invited fantasy writer Peter Beagle to speak sometime in February. Details are still being worked out. Travel writer Jamie Jensen will give a slide show on March 8 at 12:15 p.m. describing his quirky travels, which resulted in a guidebook called "California and the Southwest."
Kellie says she isn't quite sure what the March 19 speaker is going to talk about. "It's a mystery topic," she said, sounding a little uneasy. She's emailed him several times but he won't be pinned down as to subject matter.
"I hope it's something literary," she said. Whatever the topic, columnist Bob Dunning will be speaking at the Senior Center at 1 p.m. on March 19.
On April 19 at 12:15 p.m., David Wilson, a retired American Studies lecturer at UCD, will talk about his book "Rooted in America: Foodlore of Popular Fruits and Vegetables."
Wilson will also describe recipes and superstitions surrounding apples, bananas, watermelons, tobacco, corn, cranberries, hot peppers, oranges, pumpkins and tomatoes in a special slide show.
Dorothy Kupcha Leland will speak in April, hopefully with a fourth-grade class that has read one of her children's books on California history.
Later in the spring, science fiction writer Karen Joy Fowler will give a talk about her latest book, which is due to be published at about the same time.
And favorite local mystery writer John Lescroart will speak at the center on May 9 at 10 a.m. His latest book, "The Hearing," will be published in the United States by that time. It has already been published in Great Britain to enthusiastic reviews.
All events are free and open to the public, not just seniors. To reserve a seat, phone 757-5696.
Kellie hopes this series will please the community, especially the busy seniors. She describes Davis seniors as being very educated and open to new ideas.
"They are very classy," she said.
And amazingly busy. "They run the place," she added. "They work as hard as any full-time employee by volunteering to help with Meals on Wheels, the lunch program, the front desk or special programs.
"Coming from New England, I'm just not used to this where seniors are out and about year-round, "she said. "This whole experience has really helped me become part of the community."
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