Portrait Of An Artist: Modesto poet Gordon Preston

Name: Gordon Preston/Poet

Age: 58

City of residence: Modesto

Daily job: Intervention reading teacher

Family: Wife of 35 years, Colleen O'Brien Preston, an administer for the new Kaiser Modesto Medical Center; two sons, Andrew and Colin, grads of Modesto High, MJC, UCLA and UCSB

Background: I was born in New York and my parents moved us to California for the higher educational opportunities. I studied at San Diego State, 1968-73

Arts experience: While in college in the off-set printing era, I edited an off-campus poetry magazine named Cafeteria and began to be published and participated in poetry readings (even on the radio); Then in Modesto I was a member of Calif Poets-in-the-Schools. At age 54, my first book, a limited edition of poetry, "Violins," was published by Finishing Line Press (Georgetown, Ky.). I hosted poetry readings at the Mistlin Art Gallery, 2004-07, and was assistant editor of hardpan, another journal of poetry. Now, my first book-length manuscript of poems is out in fierce competition at several publishing houses and university presses.

Advice for young performers/artists: Keep at it. As you see from above, it takes a lifetime to grow into your art so that there are no regrets. You can live your art without being an "award winner."

Favorite music/art/performance: "Nutcracker" at the Gallo Center

Life plans: Continue writing and giving more readings of my work

How do you reach people unfamiliar with the arts? Invite them to an art gallery and/or a poetry reading.

What would surprise people about your art? Some are comfortable reading my work, others just take-it-or-leave-it; this is what takes getting used to, as an artist out in the public.

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