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Poems to Make You Laugh & Cry

Monday, January 4, 2021 - 6:00pm

Please join us for Poems to Make You Laugh & Cry, a special virtual event honoring the late local poet Peter McLaughlin. To evoke Pete, poets and writers who loved Pete will read their favorite poems. We'll start with Good Times editor Steve Palopoli reading "Shopper's Corner," Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz David Sullivan will read "I Wish I Was Billy Collins," Wellstone Books Publisher Steve Kettmann will read "Middle Age," novelist and Soho Press publisher Bronwen Hruska will read "The Woman of My Dreams," and Wallace Baine, local author and man of letters, will read ... whatever he wants. 

Register for this free Crowdcast event here.

This is a free event. The book may be preordered below. 
You can make a donation to help support Bookshop Santa Cruz here. Thank you!

McLaughlin's posthumous book, I Wish I Was Billy Collins, is part standup comedy, part painfully revealing self-exploration—a tender, heartbreaking, hilarious book of poems about the male condition in the 21st Century.

These are poems to read and reread and then to read aloud to friends. Even nonplussed strangers will smile knowingly after being ushered into Pete McLaughlin's world, laughing at his manic, self-deprecating take on the grim horror of waking up to find yourself a divorced middle-aged dude living by yourself with a cat, one given to fits of projectile vomiting.

The poems range from a riff on the yearning of an "Angry Prius" who just wants to get out in the fast lane, one time, and drive all-out "mercilessly tailgating all comers, / even senior citizens," to the revelations of "Middle Age," about being picked up by a woman in her sixties who "plays teasing, exploratory footsie beneath the tablecloth/her unblinking green-light eyes/locked mercilessly onto mine/she winks knowingly, her big toe somehow in my pocket now.

Pete McLaughlin grew up in San Francisco and was a standout runner in high school and at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, before earning his teaching credential. He was an elementary school teacher and a high school coach for years before moving to Santa Cruz, California, where he often played his trumpet alone on the bluffs looking out at the pounding Pacific.


I Wish I Was Billy Collins: Poems by Pete McLaughlin By Pete McLaughlin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780960061556
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Wellstone Books - December 8th, 2020