Not long after losing her husband in 1998, Patricia Dugger found a new calling in life — poetry.
Just prior to his death, her husband would drive his wife to late-night poetry meetings with the Carlsbad City Library Magee Park Poets. Shortly after, Dugger was published for the first time and her husband got to see the work before he died.
“I found [poetry] as sort of a new focus in my life,” Dugger, 87, said. “It’s like my husband introduced me to my new life.”
The longtime Cardiff-by-the-Sea woman has since joined multiple local poetry clubs — including being one of the first members of the Full Moon poetry group, which will hold a reading Jan. 14 with Dugger and three other local poets.
Dugger, who was named Encinitas’ poet laureate in 2005, said she enjoys reading poetry often, but she doesn’t write her own poetry every day.
But when inspiration hits, she’s hard to stop, said the author of three poetry books.
“I write about everything,” she said, adding that she’ll look for prompts by hearing or seeing something interesting that might be included in a poem.
Cardiff, where Dugger settled with her family in 1952, has inspired her because of how long she has lived in her home and how close she is to the ocean, she said.
When asked whether her writing tended to be fiction or non-fiction, Dugger, who is influenced by poets like Tony Hoagland and Ted Kooser, said she believes “fiction doesn’t relate to poetry.”
“Once, my granddaughter asked me, ‘Nana, is this true? Did this really happen?’” she said. “I told her, ‘Honey, it’s somebody’s truth.’ I do make up stuff. Once in a great while, I’ve had maybe five poems that have been gifts that sort of just slid out of my mind.”
The most important criteria of a successful poem is that it evokes emotion, she said.
For Saturday’s reading, Dugger said each poet will have about 20 minutes to read their work. Patrick Brady, Darius Degher and Jim Babwe will also read.
Dugger expects to read about a dozen poems and offer background information for each one, which is something she said she has never done before.
The free event, presented by 101 Artists Colony and taking place at 540 Cornish Drive, will begin at 6 p.m., with seating starting at 5:30 p.m.