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Big Creek Poetry Pot
Mort's Big Creek Poetry Pot



Excerpt from Striking Through the Masks
P. 228

On Big Creek Pottery

It was a time of extraordinary creative energy in Santa Cruz. Handicrafts were thriving, especially in Davenport, a small hamlet in the north end of the county, which had become the virtual center of the ceramics’ world in America. Al Johnson was teaching pottery at the university and throwing pots at his Big Creek pottery studio; and Bruce and Marcia McDougal’s pottery school down the road offered courses by world-renowned pottery figures, one of whom, Daniel Rhodes, came to live in the area in the 1980s. Marcia was the housemother, so to speak, to the thirty or so students who attended the six-week course. It wasn’t long after I discovered Big Creek and the school that I was visiting both on a regular basis. At Big Creek I spent several afternoons reading poetry and discussing the world with Al while he and his assistants threw pots. Bruce and Marcia became special friends over the years, and I often entertained the students at the school with poetry readings while also cooking gourmet meals for everyone on the premises. On several occasions, I read at the McDougals’ Christmas craft show, writing poems on the surfaces of platters, plates, pitchers, and vases. Bruce specially prepared the surfaces of the pots ahead of time, and immediately after I incised my poems with a wooden pencil, we sold the piece to the highest bidder. An hour or two before I began, Bruce made sure to fuel my creative inspiration with cup after cup of mulled wine.



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