Popular artist, screenplay-writer included in anthology release

John Peterson Editor of the volume holds the very first proof to go to press

Photos and story by Catherine Stachowiak

The local art association, publishing its first anthology, is about to release it hot off the press.  And the editors expect the work to be on the shelves by June, according to senior editor, John Peterson, who is also a renowned poet and publisher at Poetic Matrix Press.

Peterson told the Kern Valley Sun, on May 1, what readers could expect to see within the volume from the Kern River Valley Art Association (KRVAA,) that includes works from an array of Kern Valley poets and artists. 

According to Peterson and junior editor Sandra Hughes, the anthology is dedicated to Brent Puniwai, the KRVAA’s vice president who recently passed away.  Peterson said, “Brent’s death was a real shock. It happened very quickly. So it just seemed real natural to want to dedicate the volume to him.  He was known by many.  And I think everybody I’ve come in contact with had a great deal of affection for Brent.”

While Puniwai did not submit any poetry, he wrote screenplays during his lifetime. Narratives of one of his screenplays are in the anthology. One is titled “Run to Remember,” a section in the anthology focusing on loss or grief.  Hughes said, “We took part of Badwater, Brent Puniwai’s screen play, and turned it into poems, which was not hard to do because he was very poetic in the way he wrote the narrations. So I didn’t even change them as much as just to take pieces out and structure them like a poem.”

Cover of the new KRVAA anthology release

The president of the KRVAA Chris Buffalo Folsom, who considered Puniwai a good friend and ally, also wrote a poem about Puniwai. Hughes said, “That stream of Brent is kind of throughout the anthology.” 

Hughes sorted the contributed pieces of poetry, from about 20 valley residents into four sections, which was what Peterson based his choices of artwork, and the 108-page layout upon. 

The press source Peterson is producing the volume through would enable big distributors including Amazon to handle the anthology.  “It certainly will have a life out there in the literary world.  It will also be sent to the Library of Congress and will be in the Library of Congress’ permanent collection. And that’s kind of a nice thing too,” said Peterson. 

Hughes said, “Many peoples’ poetry had to do with the land up here, it had to do with the lake and the sky and why we love living in the Kern River Valley, or in California.  I really felt like it would draw the poets together and it would also give us a reason to write more.”   

Peterson said, “We got material from a pretty good array of people, a fair number of people and a broad age group.  The other thing is, it’s a pretty eclectic content, including the natural environment out here, family stuff, and people dealing with hard times and some spiritual work. It’s a nice array of poetry. And what I like about it is people entertain a lot of different ideas.”