There was a celebration of words on Sunday, but it was quiet.
A Starry Night Poetry Series invited Southern California-based poet Brendan Constantine to share his most recent work with poetry lovers of Lodi and beyond.
The mic is open to amateur poets once the featured poet has shared his or her work and refreshments have been doled out. Recently, the series was broadened to allow singers and songwriters to play acoustic music.
Event host D.B. Pacini was thrilled to have Constantine read.
"I think he's one of the most important poets we've ever had," she said.
Constantine is inspired by quirks of the world around him.
"I am just knocked out by the world," he said. "I am constantly reminded of the impossible, ridiculous fact of us."
In his poetry, commonplace ideas are tilted to become remarkable and strange. Instead of a traditional interpretation of Goldilocks, his poem sees the little girl as an invader of bears' homes who trashes the place.
Constantine has no preferred writing place.
"I have to be able to do this anywhere. I'm supposed to be able to do this with a candle and a quill," he said. "I have no room to complain about ideal working conditions."
He has published three books in three years. At Sunday's reading, Constantine shared selections from his newest book, "Calamity Joe," and other pieces.
One poem Constantine read is titled "Last night I went to the map of the world and I have messages for you." It describes what several countries and continents might say if sending a message to someone they missed at a party. America has misplaced a phone number, Greece wants a lift to a party, and Ireland asked to be remembered.
"Is that everyone? Oh yes, the oceans. They asked what they always ask and I promised I'd repeat it, Why do you never call? When are you coming home?"
Constantine was in his element behind the mic. He ruled the small stage with controlled energy and a commanding tone.
"I get to get in my car, drive to towns, and walk into rooms filled with people for whom poetry, music, lyricism and art are important," he said between poems. "It's restorative to be with you."
Andy Jones, a poet and professor at University of California, Davis brought his two young sons, Truman and Jukie Duren, to the reading. The little boys sat quietly through Constantine's poems. But when it was Jones' turn at the mic, Jukie Duren followed him to the stage. He sat on his dad's lap while Jones read his poem from his iPhone.
Cami Ferry and her daughter Taralyn Ferry came to see a friend read her poem. Neither had any experience in poetry readings, but that didn't hurt.
"It's okay. I didn't know what to expect. I came in with no preconceived ideas," said Cami Ferry of Lodi.
Jim Turner of Lodi shared a poem called "Victory Garden." He's been writing so long that he couldn't put his finger on the number of years. Part of the reason he comes to Starry Night is to offer an ear to other poets.
"Everyone who writes poetry wants someone to listen to them," he said.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.