Author, poet comes 'home' to speak in Portola ValleyRashani Rea, known as Tori Harris while growing up in Portola Valley, will present a talk, "The Importance of Place," and sign her book, "Beyond Brokenness," at a 7:30 p.m. event on Monday, Feb. 23, at the Portola Valley Library.
Ms. Rea, who now lives in Hawaii, is returning to town as part of a six-week book-signing tour in the United States and Canada. "Beyond Brokenness" is one of five books published by Ms. Rea. Her presentation will examine the impact of growing up in Portola Valley several decades ago.
A poet, musician, artist and Dharma teacher, Ms. Rea lived in Portola Valley until she was 14, attending schools in the Portola Valley School District. Her father, George Harris, was a painter who also taught art history and related courses at Stanford, and her mother, Christina Harris, was a poet and artist, Ms. Rea says.
Inspired by Martin Luther King and Joan Baez, Ms. Rea became a social activist as a girl, she says. In the early 1960s, she raised money for equal housing opportunity in the Bay Area. She began a school project to raise money to buy a washing machine for a Korean orphanage, inspired by what she learned from two Korean orphans who had just arrived in Portola Valley, she says.
Before moving to Hawaii, where she offers retreats at her home on the big island, she lived in France, and for some time worked with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a renowned writer and researcher in the field of death and dying.
"Beyond Brokenness" is a personal story that explores grief and the path from it leading to equanimity and joy. It has collages and poetry, including a major poem that was set to music and performed in the Royal Opera House in London, Ms. Rea says.
Former Ormondale teacher Robin Toews, now retired, is helping to spread the word about her former fourth-grade student's library program. As an 8-year-old, Ms. Rea "wrote lovely poetry, and drew and painted beautifully," Ms. Toews writes in an e-mail.
"She is lively, enthusiastic and very talented," she says. "She has a presence developed from working with poets and seers, and gives workshops on self-fulfillment ... where she lives and throughout the world."
The event is free. The library is in the Portola Valley Town Center at 765 Portola Road.