Boonville Poet Bernadette Restuccia
On Thursday, June 20, at 7:30pm The Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz Reading Series will feature Boonville poet Bernadette Restuccia. The reading will take place at the Arena Market cafe and will begin with live improv jazz and an open mic with jazz improv; the reading will conclude with more live improv jazz.
Ever since she was a little girl in suburban New Jersey, Bernadette wrote poetry. Frequently feeling out of place, her journal was her sanctuary and her best friend. In sixth grade in a Catholic elementary school, her first taste of public speaking was reading from the Bible at church. At the podium, as nervous as she was, she knew there was something important beginning. “It just felt right to be up there. It was an immediate gut reaction. I enjoyed speaking in front of a group of people, and that fact was more powerful than the fear of it.” In high school she was involved in a public speaking club that travelled the county and competed in tournaments. She mostly read poetry and once had the honor to read her own poetry that had just recently been published. “That’s when I realized the power and the vulnerability of speaking in front of a group of people,” she remembers. “I was on the edge of my seat, I couldn’t get enough.”
While studying Literature and Philosophy at S.U.N.Y Purchase College, Bernadette became a regular at the Open Mic series taking place at the college. Eventually she became a regular performer, blessed with a lot of support from friends and classmates. The college was primarily focused at the time in the visual and performing arts programs that offered both a creative and kinetic community of inspiration for her writing. She took classes in poetry and performance, and also participated in a study abroad program in Italy where she got to take a workshop class on poetry. Among the pastoral settings, and keen awareness of her Italian heritage, inspiration continued to be alive and well.
After graduating college, she made a bold decision to travel the country. This decision proved to be a profound rite of passage that lasted for five years. She travelled and spent time in twenty eight states, camped and hiked in forests, beaches, and canyons. She lived and worked on Organic vegetable and fruit farms and intentional communities for a season at a time. She also did her share of frolicking at festivals and concerts; music and dance being two of her other great loves. During these five years, Bernadette sent out group emails regularly (before Facebook) to family and friends, sharing stories and discoveries of her travels. Spanning from in poetic reflections on nature, to eccentric characters she met, and synchronistic moments, Bernadette shared a world with her ninety four recipients that some of them wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.
After five years of a nomadic lifestyle, she found Anderson Valley and eventually had a son named Jaden. Once Jaden entered kindergarten, energy for creative projects seeped back into her life. She started producing poetry again and reciting at local open mics, The Anderson Valley Grange Variety Show, the Not So Simple Living Fair in Boonville for the past two years at their cabaret evening, and other county celebrations. She is also an actress with the Anderson Valley Theater Guild and just recently finished her fourth production with the Guild. She also performed in a “Women’s Authentic Monologues Performance” directed by Ellen Weed.
One of Bernadette’s major focuses in her poetry is unity. In her words, “Through history there has always been tactics to keep humans separate from each other. In an age of social media and overwhelmingly triggering propaganda, we all need to embrace the humanness that connects us; the heart that is in all of us. There is so much power available to us if we decide to stand up together to achieve it. These strategies of separation are carefully organized to keep us from this power. We can only change the world together.” Nature is also a powerful motivation in her writing, because, as she says, “When we are in tune with the powerful truths and miracles of nature we realize the reality of being earth citizens.” These powerful themes are integral to life, and Bernadette believes they are the key to a better future: “To just do what we can, in our families, our friends, our social circles, our communities, to connect through our hearts, this will help. We need to all do our parts to reach out and connect. In a time of adversity and isolation, we can nurture connection every day, we can make a difference.”
Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz is supported by The Third Thursday Poetry Group, many anonymous donors, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.