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GOINGS ON SANTA BARBARA : Dark Verses : Robert Greenfield's poetry shows the effects of time spent in jails and psychiatric hospitals.

February 21, 1991|MAJA RADEVICH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Robert Greenfield says the melancholy element found in most of his poetry comes from the time he spent in psychiatric hospitals and jails.

"I feel those events, especially jail, deepened my experience and understanding," said the 52-year-old Goleta poet. "I learned that not everyone in the world is happy in making love every night."

Greenfield is one of the best known and most vocal of the poets in the Santa Barbara area.

He will be reading from his works at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Three other poets will also share their works: Barry Spacks, poet and visiting professor of English at UCSB; Gail Beede, poet and editor of ART/LIFE, and Linda Albertano, a Los Angeles poet and performance artist.

One of the poems Greenfield plans to read is "Eyes," about a beautiful woman with fascinating eyes who walks past him in a cafe he frequently visits.

"A lot of my poetry has to do with love--and my difficulty with it," he said.

"I have a deep admiration for woman, but then there's this nightmarish undercurrent."

Greenfield began writing poetry at age 30 while staying at a psychiatric hospital following a nervous breakdown.

Once he got out, he would visit UCLA, admire the women and write erotic poems to his favorites.

"I was shy then. I still am," he said. "So I would just hand them the poem and walk away hoping that some magic would come out of it. It never did."

Then, while moving into an apartment in Venice, Greenfield met and fell in love with a beautiful woman.

He sent her bundles of poems: she didn't reply.

He said he became convinced that she was being held captive in a room by the Mafia, so he would stake her out.

She called the police. This continued for five years, with Greenfield periodically being arrested and taken to jail.

One 10-month stay in jail he said was the genesis for the poem "Hotel California," named after the song of the same name.

The song was played over and over again on the radio during his stay.

Admission to the reading is free. 966-5373.

Wendy Doniger (O'Flaherty) will present a free lecture "Rachel & Leah and Jekyll & Hyde: Sexual Doubles and Masquerades" Monday at UCSB.

The late Joseph Campbell can be credited with sparking the latest national interest in mythology.

But while Campbell's research focused on the similarities between the world's myths, Doniger is also interested in the variations.

She said "the real fun begins when you find out how different a Chinese journey is from a French journey--how the goals are different, how the entire point of the story is different."

Doniger is working on a book about sexual doubles and sexual masquerades in myth, literature and film. She will lecture on these concepts with examples ranging from the Bible to Gothic fiction.

The 4:30 p.m. lecture will be at the University Center Pavilion. 893-3535.

Today at the University Center Pavilion, Rachelle Hollander will lecture on the role of science in society, the integrity of scientific research, and social influences on the development of science.

Hollander, program director at the National Science Foundation, will deliver the free speech at 4 p.m. 893-3535.

Winner of the Children's Album of the Year, John McCutcheon, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, will perform a family concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sheraton Royal Scandinavian Inn in Solvang.

His interest in the origins of American folk music led him to the Appalachians in the 1960s.

There he found sources of his music behind the plow, in the assembly line, in the kitchen.

He finds the strings that bind Americans together as a nation and presents these in his storytelling musical style.

Tickets are $15 per family, or $6 for adults and $3 for children. 688-9533.

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