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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Arts In April - Painting Pictures with Words

We often consider art as visual. Whether it be a sculpture, a painter’s creation on canvas made from oil and color, tints and hues, the composition itself leading our eyes through the scene. But the words of a poet, written on paper, take form we may see as we read, but hearing the words, the rhythm . . . the speed . . . the work of a poet paints a picture we see—even though our eyes may be closed. Just as an artist captures the shimmer of light on the crest of a wave, a glare—a poet will capture the same glint, or twinkle, or sparkle or flare, painting the picture with words.

Marianne Lyon

Napa County’s Poet Laureate (2021-2023)

Author of over 240 published poems, Marianne encourages others to “ignite their inner poet.” As she notes in her comments on the Napa County Poet Laureate website, “Through my teaching career, there are few people I have met who have not been brushed by poetry. Their stories inspired songs, verse, even quirky rhymes. Often their memories haloed their verse. Poetry is part of everyone’s life even if they are not aware of it.”

When I asked Marianne how she conjures the words with which she crafts her work, she replied with a poem.


She summons me to converse with her

seeks me out from I don’t know where

maybe India’s Ganges Montana Rockies

Words open my eyes I see myself

Verbs climb me up to jagged top of highest mountain

below my childhood ripples like a stream fed from snowy peak

Her voice is true song of my speechless soul

I feel myself break loose into an abyss

wait for another verse of my life to appear

Poetic inspiration takes form in subtle ways for Marianne. Listening to classical music or the watching an artist compose a painting. As a music teacher for 39 years, inspiration flowed . . .


Do you have a moment to listen

for just a little while

away from your daunting to-do’s

Lean into that which is beyond words

Go even farther than the melody

Where sounds become a threshold

into a way of being

Harmony renders as if

breathing over me like a god

I can’t comprehend the immensity

any more than

a teacup can collect a waterfall

My own breathing captures

imitates magnified trembling phrases

Gorgeously I drink from minor timbre

inviting me on journey

Enthralling seconds carry

entangle me in pain and joy

sounds seem to unshutter my soul

I feel myself seeing flowers

unwrapping their petals

Sounds trails off like skywriting

Can you still taste canorous current

smooth like honey from a spoon

Do not forget this moment

It could mean everything

Joey DeNatale Honored as Napa County Youth Poet Laureate (2022)

In his junior year at Vintage High School, Joey is a very busy young man. In addition to his one-year term as our youth poet ambassador, he also enjoys playing football, and singing with the Chamber and Concert choirs. Joey shares his time volunteering in the community.

To hear and see Joey recite his original work, AUTUMN BREEZE, please check out his introduction to the 2022 Napa County Poetry Out Loud Competition (see links below.) Not only does Joey recite his original work, the Poetry Out Loud Competition also shines a light on some very talented local teens.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 4 million students and 65,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

From the Arts Council Napa Valley press release: “The first-place winner and recipient of a $200 award is Mistura Bankole, 11th grade (American Canyon High School). The first runner up winner and recipient of a $100 award is Paige Rosal, 10th grade (American Canyon High School). The competition, presented in partnership with Arts Council Napa Valley, California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. On February 4th and 7th, six high school students from Napa County virtually participated in the Poetry Out Loud County Competition produced by the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center and sponsored by the California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, Napa Bookmine, and The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.

Bankole, who will now move on to the state competition, recited an impassioned yet powerfully graceful rendition of “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou. On her second recitation, Bankole narrated, “Brother, I’ve seen some” by Kabir with a clever repartee—it felt as if she lived the story herself and was telling it first-hand. Rosal, our first runner up, started with a strong performance of “Idea 61: Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part” by Michael Drayton, and finished commandingly with “The Contract Says: We’d Like the Conversation to be Bilingual” by Ada Limoń. A complete list of the contestants and the poems recited can be found on the Arts Council Napa Valley website.

A much-deserved recognition also goes to the contestants who won first and second place at their

respective schools and organizations across the county. Gabrielle George (Justin-Siena High School), Emma Ordonez-Enos (Vintage High School), and Jenifer Canseco and Veronica Morris (Napa High School).”

Mistura Bankole, the Napa county winner, advanced to the California State contest. Each champion at the state level will receive $200 and compete virtually for the national championship, at a date to be determined this spring. To learn more about the California Poetry Out Loud contest, visit To watch the Napa County 2022 Poetry Out Loud contest, visit

The following is a poem near and dear to my own heart, as it was written by my favorite, local contemporary poet, James B. Earley (Jim). We were co-workers at Robert Mondavi Winery for 18 years. Jim was Mr. Mondavi’s personal chauffeur and dear friend. Jim is a prolific poet with many of his pieces published in print: A Vision of Home (1989) and A Summer’s Sultry Evening and Other Short Stories (1995-96), and online at


Napa Valley’s....claim to fame

Within that fame so many names

This bejeweled place…we know

....Visionaries…made it so

Prunes would be the scene instead

.....Rows and rows of drying sheds

The Paradise we’ve come to know

…Life would not have deemed it so

Had not those dreams of yesterday’s

....Kindred souls who paved the way

Spectacular fields…..of robust vines….

Now home to World’s prestigious wines

...Born of struggles…….waged in strife

Gratitude ‘tis owed...their way of life

…Which…in turn...this new day bred

Absent the prunes…and drying sheds

Author’s Note:

Dedicated to the treasured many.


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