August 23, 2014

Jill Waldron—A Topanga Life Writ Large­­

 

PHOTO BY ANTHONY VEREBES MESSENGER © 2014

Jill Waldron—A Topanga Life Writ Large­­

Jill Waldron with one of her beloved horses,Missy Holly. After a lifetime of showing horses, she now teaches others how to groom horses and drive a carriage.

Long-time Topangan Professor Jill Waldron, teacher, published poet, professional horse trainer and existentialist, leaves convention behind and lives in her own rural piece of paradise with two dogs and four horses.

Waldron is credited with turning quite a few young adolescent rebels toward more productive pursuits. In 1965-1968, she was teaching at the forefront of UCLA's Upward Bound program. The students were the offspring of La Raza Unita and the Black Panthers. She and her ex-husband, artist Raymond Keller, worked as a team, directing students in collage making and other art projects. Together, they were radicals reaching out to radicals and it worked.

From 1969-1998, Waldron taught an extensive number of subjects at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, including Poetry, American Literature, African Literature, Latin American Literature and British Literature.

PHOTO BY ANTHONY VEREBES MESSENGER © 2014

Jill Waldron—A Topanga Life Writ Large­­

Jill Waldron in her horse barn reminiscences about her full and interesting life in Topanga.

From 1974-1978, she hosted a show on KCRW Radio, "Poetry Now.” She was also part of a group called Hit and Run Poets that met in restaurants to read off-beat poetry. It was the late Sixties and Seventies, a time when blacklisting controversial types who didn't adhere to the so-called normal imprinted patterns was rampant.

Professor Waldron says, “During most of my publishing career I encountered a great deal of resistance to my academic and poetic publications from various authorities.” When she returned to

PHOTO BY ANTHONY VEREBES MESSENGER © 2014

Jill Waldron—A Topanga Life Writ Large­­

Jill Waldron shows off her funky house in Old Topanga, filled with the memorabilia of a truly interesting life.

Pierce College, she discovered the textbook she wrote and used had been ordered to be shredded. The ironic result was that she received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to teach teachers how to teach without a textbook.

The truth is that Waldron engaged her students and was an inspiration to many.

In 1973, Waldron bought her 1936 Salt Barn House in Topanga and moved in with her son Eric. The house has been renovated and transformed into a charming home, laden with antiques, books and amazing artifacts. It is a special experience to be on the inside of its wooden walls.

Her bedroom is a cozy loft that invites one to slip in for a little nap. The barn room is a separate building with Christmas trees and other ornaments up all year.

"Why not have Christmas all year," she said.

PHOTO BY ANTHONY VEREBES MESSENGER © 2014

Jill Waldron—A Topanga Life Writ Large­­

Jill Waldron lounges in a show carriage housed in her barn, a room cheerfully decorated for Christmas all year ‘round.

For Waldron life has been an adventure. What will she do next?

English 101

The room filled itself

with maroon…lush students

all curves of hips and thighs

and breasts and a curve of a

brunette bun at her neck

and the curve of her lips

the curved lip penciled

dark brown over and under

Spanish chestnut-glossed lips

and the curve of the eyeliner

under her eyes and the curve

of her earlobe being watched

by a guy in a maroon brushed

cotton L.L. Bean shirt who wore

thick glasses and his thin

blond hair parts in the middle

and it fell in a curve on his head

like the curve of his neck

like the curve of his part

like the curve of his chin

like the curve of his knuckles

so white in restraint

while behind him stood the

long black velvet dress

whose eyes and teeth curved

themselves toward her

own irises and tongue licking

itself over manicured teeth

Yes! The semester jolted

itself into spring ‘96 and

onto paper. At it again,

looking at my maroon

mock turtleneck

remembering when I would

have shown more of this body

in a classroom…age does that

makes one cover up

stay in darker corners

where the body is hidden

in blurred lines but not the mind.

The Cow Poem

Here I am calling myself we

not to be alone.

In addition to the freedom

of not being coupled, erased,

I find a cow's placid face

comfortable and loving.

In the meantime, the

straw so yellow and green

makes me feel safe. I sigh

before the words come to lie

and tell tales that the cow

cannot conceive.

And the stupid news makes large

what is small: little girls in strollers

attacked by bears, parents screaming.

In the several years before,

our ancestors knew death of children

as daily realities and

the nature of doom.

Next come the desperate

feelings which words will not contain.

The placid cow looks at me,

knowing something I do not.

An Island Apart

under the pen

"irresistible

and bittersweet"

those "looseners

of limbs," words

dogged, stark

let me down

the pages

again as I

stretch myself

toward my own end

and request

a reader to hear

my rough song.

Without venom

spineless

and reptilian,

the page

opens itself up.