‘Optimism through Poetry’

Posted April 20, 2016 by The Argonaut in This Week

The Philosopher’s Stone Poets foster literary community one meetup — and book — at a time

By Michael Reyes

Sergio Cacciotti, Amanda Ortiz and Chase Maser

Sergio Cacciotti, Amanda Ortiz and Chase Maser

The mythical Philosopher’s Stone turns base metals into gold and revitalizes the human spirit.

The Philosopher’s Stone Poets meetup provides opportunities for writers to grow into the best version of themselves.

Founded by three Santa Monica College students, the group took up a monthly residency last year at Gravlax restaurant on Washington Boulevard, beginning as a small monthly reading series for volunteers of all ability levels and genres.

Now an eclectic community of writers, the PS Poets has expanded its reading series to multiple locations, began offering weekly writing workshops at SMC and recently published an eponymous book of works by its community of writers (including me).

The group, which returns to Gravlax on Monday and also holds events at Café 212 Pier in Santa Monica, is currently seeking submissions for a second volume.

Sergio Cacciotti and Chase Maser (also an Argonaut contributor), who co-manage the group with Amanda Ortiz, spoke recently about the group’s transformative aspirations.

How is the group’s purpose manifested in your events?

Maser: Our readings have always had a feeling of community. We wanted to create a place where artists can feel welcomed and supported in their craft.

Cacciotti: We’re trying to promote positivity and optimism through poetry, and the name is emblematic of our book and our mission.

How did the book happen?

Maser: We started a writing club at Santa Monica College and began holding writing workshops every week on campus. Once we built up a strong foundation, we wrote a proposal for a small budget.

What does being in a book mean for members of your writing community?

Cacciotti: We’ve brought together artists and given them an outlet. We’ve been able to create a bond through that. Being a part of a community is extremely important; being detached or excluded is a lonely thing.

Maser: The book is to honor that.

Why is this book dedicated to mothers?

Maser: My mother, Yun Kyong Yi, gave me everything. She was always the first person to support my creativity and my potential; even when I was lost and wandering in my 20s, she always tried to give me direction. My mother battled with colon cancer and died in November 2014. I want to say that if it were not for the strength and courage of my mom, I would have never found my path as a writer.

Cacciotti: I’ve had no bigger influence in my life than my mother. I felt like it was appropriate to dedicate it to her because without her, I would have never made it to where I am today. I put my mother through hell, and I just feel like she deserves the commemoration. This book is one of my biggest accomplishments, and that’s all because of her.

What can we expect from the new book?

Cacciotti: You can expect the same kind of creative expression, for sure. And you can expect another compilation of great writing. Amanda will be doing another awesome cover design, and we plan on expanding the books into other markets, such as Amazon and ebooks — any way to spread the word about these talented writers.

PS poets meet at 9 p.m. Monday, April 25, at Gravlax, 12400 W. Washington Blvd., Culver West. Visit pspoets.weebly.com or email pspoets@gmail.com for more information about the group and how to submit a poem or story for publication.


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