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'Bodyscapes': Love, Fashion, Women

May 04, 1997|DENNIS McLELLAN DENNIS McLELLAN..BD: TIMES STAFF WRITER

As a child growing up in postwar Germany, Ute Margaret Saine wrote her first poem when she was 8.

"I wrote a poem for my brother's birthday April 30, sort of a spring poem," she recalls. "Then my father got hold of it and said all the meter is wrong and the rhymes are wrong. . . . So it should have discouraged me, but it didn't."

Saine, a Spanish professor at Chapman University in Orange, has been writing poetry ever since.

Now, her first book of poetry has been published by Santa Ana-based Pacific Writers Press, the tiny publishing house run by novelist and UC Irvine professor Alejandro Morales.

"Bodyscapes" ($12) is a collection of 78 poems, including one in Spanish. Subject matter ranges from love to fashion and the human body--"the matches and mismatches" between the two--to how women have been represented through the ages.

One poem, "Lot's Wife," begins, "The woman, no name, no life, except/the function: mother, wife. . . ."

Lot's wife, says Saine, "doesn't do anything bad, but all of a sudden she is turned into a statue of salt. I question why that would happen. I feel that women are still not considered as equal human beings. We have made progress, but we're not quite there yet, and we may be going backward."

Saine, 54, says she doesn't write long poems. "The Gardener," a poem in "Bodyscapes" that delicately deals with her being molested as a toddler, originally "was very long, but I just cut, cut, cut. I don't write poems that are over one page in length if I can help it."

Adds Saine: "I think most people write poetry--at least I do--when it's something I can't deal with in a rational way like writing an essay. I just kind of explore it in a very personal way. That's when I write poetry, when I feel I can't say it any other way."

Saine says the title of her book refers to how people "view the landscape as a body and the body as a landscape."

Saine, who speaks seven languages, says she always wrote her poems in German until seven years ago "because I always believed you could only write poetry in your native language."

But, she says, she always would tuck her poems away in drawers because she didn't have anyone to share them with.

She stopped writing poetry in German in 1990 after Orange County poets Julian Palley and Florinda Mintz asked her to help found PEN Orange County. "I decided, well, now I have a group of poets to share my work with and I had better write in English."

For information about purchasing "Bodyscapes" (Pacific Writers Press; $12), call Pacific Writers Press at (714) 832-6778.

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This week:

* Kathleen Duey, author of the "American Diaries" series of historical novels for middle-grade girls, will speak and sign at 1:30 p.m. today at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Martin J. Smith, author of "Time Release," will sign at 1 p.m. today at Coffee, Tea & Mystery, 13232 Springdale St., Westminster.

* A science-fiction discussion group led by former Cal State Fullerton professor Willis McNelly will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Poet Lawrence Schulz, author of "Say It Strong," will read at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Gypsy Den Cafe and Reading Room at the Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

* Poets Eleanor Bresemann Domachowska and Vatz Gazinski will read at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Don Bradley, author of "Freemasonry in the 21st Century" and "Angels in a Harsh World," will speak at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Nori J. Muster, author of "Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement," will sign at 7 p.m. Friday at Different Drummer Books, 1294 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

* The Southland Fiction Writers will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble in the Irvine Spectrum, 31 Fortune Drive, Irvine. Open to published and unpublished fiction writers. For more information, call (714) 854-0493.

* A used-book sale will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Newport Beach Public Library, 1000 Avocado Ave.

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Send information about book-related events at least 10 days before event to: Dennis McLellan, O.C. Books & Authors, Life & Style, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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