The Fifth Street Theater Poetry Festival (1980)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Four years after the Valentine’s Day reading at Beyond Baroque, the Fifth Street Theater hosted a poetry festival that paired poets who wrote in English and poets living in Los Angeles who wrote in another language. It was the first event I know of in this area that gave immigrant poetry an equal share of prominence in a reading series. This would seem to be the kind of thing that was recently cited by the new poet laureate of Los Angeles as her primary interest. In setting up programming, she may want to look at this early example, which was curated by Paul Vangelisti. I have reproduced the programming as listed on the original program, but have also broken the lists into clusters of poets as they would have been seen at that point.

Paul Vangelisti (co-editor; co=publisher: Invisible City/ Red Hill Press)
Martha Lifson (Martha Ronk)
John Thomas (deceased)
Robert Crosson (deceased)
Robert Peters (deceased)
Dennis Cooper (editor and publisher: Little Caesar Press; now lives elsewhere)
Ron Koertge
Bill Mohr (Momentum Press)
James Krusoe
Harry Northup
Holly Prado
Leland Hickman (deceased) (1934 – 1991)
Wanda Coleman (deceased)
Peter Levitt (now lives elsewhere)

Of the poets writing in other languages, here are links to the writing of the four best-known of them:

Chungmi Kim – Korean
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/chungmi-kim
http://www.beltwaypoetry.com/poetry/poets/names/kim-chungmi/
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52903/my-sin
http://washingtonart.com/beltway/kim.html

Richard Exner – German (1929-2008)
http://www.independent.com/news/2008/dec/24/richard-exner-1929—2008/

Alurista – Spanish/English (born: Alberto Baltazar Urista Heredia, 1947)
http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/alur3.html

XICANO DUENDE: A SELECT ANTHOLOGY by Alurista

Gina Valdes – Spanish / Nahuatl (born 1943)

Gina Valdés – Omens


https://www.asu.edu/brp/backlist/poetry/GVal1p.html
https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2010/may/05/poetry-english-con-salsa/

Banaj Basu – Bengali
Nguyensa – Vietnamese
Cao Dong Knanh — Vietnamese
Saebang Lee — Korean
P.D. Sharma – Creolese-English
New Caribbean Man: Poems 1972 -1976 (Carib House, 1981)
Yuri Lechtholz – Russian
Kev Mak — Russian

Fifth Street Poetry Festival - 1

Fifth Street Poetry Festival - 2

Bao Phi’s “THOUSAND STAR HOTEL”

Friday, July 21, 2017

In addition to Michael C. Ford’s publication reading on Sunday, which was announced on this blog earlier this week, I would like to mention the following pair of readings by a poet visiting from Minnesota, Bao Phi, who will be reading from his second book of poetry, THOUSAND STAR HOTEL from Coffee House Press.

http://coffeehousepress.org/shop/thousand-star-hotel/
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/07/20/537580283/the-poet-bao-phi-on-creating-a-guidebook-for-young-asian-americans

BEYOND BAROQUE – 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291 (310) 822-3006
22 July Saturday 6:00 PM
BAO PHI AND SCOTT KURASHIGE: A READING AND DISCUSSION
Bao Phi will read from his second book of poetry, Thousand Star Hotel and Scott Kurashige will read from his book The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the Political Crisis Began in Detroit. FREE.

The Great Company — 1917 Bay St, Fl 2nd, Los Angeles, California 90021
23 July Sunday, 7:30 PM Doors, Show at 8 pm
Bao Phi: Thousand Star Hotel Book Release LA
Hosted by BEAU SIA
Bao Phi will be reading from his newly released book of poetry, Thousand Star Hotel, as part of his national book tour. Books for sale and author signing after. FREE and Open to the Public
NOTE: The entrance of The Great Company (where the reading will be held), is actually in an alley off of Wilson St. between Violet & Bay.

As for a notation on how I spent the day, I want to thank Amelie Frank, Janice Lee, Lynne Thompson, and Jessica Ceballos for their willingness to talk at length about the challenges of a life devoted to one’s own writing while at the same time helping other writers sustain their commitment to imaginative cultural work. Here are some links to their work.

https://www.tldrmagazine.com/single-post/2017/07/05/The-Wolf-Janice-Lee=
Janice Lee is the author of several books, including Damnation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013), Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015), and The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). After living for over 30 years in California, she will be moving to Portland, Oregon this summer to teach at Portland State University.

www.tldrmagazine.com
True Living; Documented Relentlessly – edited by Russell Jaffe.

JESSICA CEBALLOS:
http://www.jessicaceballos.com/about.html

AMELIE FRANK:
http://www.home.earthlink.net/~pero/ameliefrank.html

LYNNE THOMPSON:
Three Poems (from Cultural Weekly):
Hammer & Pick
Lost Spirits
White Flight: Los Angeles, 1961
https://www.culturalweekly.com/lynne-thompson-three-poems/

Bill Mohr – San Diego Reader: Three Poems
https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2017/jul/19/poetry-imperial-beach-remains-remote-intolerable/

And, last but not least, listen to a poem by Gerry Locklin being read on The Writer’s Almanac:

The Writer’s Almanac for July 21, 2017

Austin Straus (1939-2017)

Thursday, July 20, 2017; 10:30 a.m.

I just received a call from Laurel Ann Bogen to inform me that the poet and book artist Austin Straus has died. Born in Brooklyn in 1939, Austin moved to Los Angeles in 1978, and immediately settled into an ongoing renaissance of poetry in Southern California. He was the founder and cohost of “The Poetry Connexion,” on KPFK-FM, from 1981 to 1996. His guests included many of the most prominent poets in Los Angeles.

His books of poetry include Laureate without a Country, Drunk with Light, and Intensifications. His late wife, the poet Wanda Coleman (1946-2013), and he collaborated on a sequence of poems celebrating their three decades of marriage, The Love Project: A Marriage Made in Poetry. His poems were reprinted in many anthologies, including “Poetry Loves Poetry,” Suzanne Lummis’sGrand Passion, Charles Harper Webb’s Stand Up Poetry, Steve Kowit’s The Maverick Poets, and Men in Our Time: An Anthology of Male Poetry in Contemporary America.

Austin considered himself to be primarily a book artist, and that work can be found in many collections, including Chapman College, Occidental College, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. However, his poems will also remain a steadfast part of the community of poets he joined almost forty years ago.

You can hear Austin reading some of his poems and being interviewed by Lois P. Jones on KPFK at:

Austin Straus on Poets Cafe

The poets who appeared in my anthology “Poetry Loves Poetry” (Momentum Press, 1985) who are now dead include:
Dick Barnes
Charles Bivins
Charles Bukowski
Wanda Coleman
Robert Crosson
John Harris
Bob Flanagan
Leland Hickman
Carol Lewis
Robert Peters
Peter Schneidre
Ed Smith
Austin Straus
John Thomas
Marine Robert Warden

“Suddenly // we are within the sound that we have made…”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ann Stanford, one of the Los Angeles poets whose work I quoted in Holdouts, has not appeared in any of the past half-dozen anthologies of Los Angeles poetry, even though her work has inspired many Los Angeles poets, including Harry Northup and Michael C. Ford. The title of today’s post comes from a poem by Stanford that Ford used as an epigraph in his 1977 chapbook, West Point, which recorded one of his many cross-country jaunts over the past half-century. I have dipped into this obscure publication for today’s title because I love her description of how consciousness itself both creates that liminal ripening of poetic sound and records the instant of enveloping transition. Embedded in attuned self-awareness, Ford is one of the very few poets who has an uncanny ability to sketch with accuracy on the palimpsest of nostalgia’s delicate aura. At the same time, his poetry has maintained its droll critique of American’s cultural proclivities, while not allowing us to indulge in the sentimentality of fantasy role reversal. “Would we really do much better if we were in charge?” The answer is yes, but Ford gently instructs us as to what it would require to attain that power. Perhaps the best place to study his suggestions is his 2014 recording from Hen House Studios, Look Each Other in the Ears. I believe that his volume of “Selected Poems 1970-1995, ” which was published by Amaranth Editions in 1998 under the title “Emergency Exits,” is also still available. That book did not include, however, any poems from West Point.

For a chance to hear Michael C. Ford read from his new book, set aside this coming Sunday afternoon and head to DTLA.

Sunday, July 23

4 PM

Michael C Ford’s Women Under The Influence
Book Launch & Signing.

Featuring readings by: S.A. Griffin, Mike Sonksen, Gail Wronsky, Jerry Garcia, Hannah Thompson-Garner, Paul Cummins & Surprise Guests!

$10 Admission includes Drinks.
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Produced by Susan Hayden & Alexis Rhone Fancher @the gorgeous Fine Art Bookstore of Michael Delgado.

A.G. Geiger Fine Art Books
502 Chung King Court (at Hill Street)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

“His poems are alive and full of fresh phrases and words and insights… often dazzling bolts of images.” – Ann Stanford

“All the things I like in poems: original, serious, humous… a thrilling language-depth that only a true poet can achieve.” – Holly Prado

“Not only is he one of our premiere language artists, Ford is a writer who can bring to his readers a kaleidoscope of voices, all of which touch both the spirit and the heart.” – David St. John

“He’s one of the voices with an American sound of pure jazz.” — William Matthews

“Welcome to the work of a man who has devoted his life to poetry, who evidently, always knew the emergency exits. His is performance that is not sell-out entertainment. In his contagious, genuine enthusiasm, metaphorical intelligence, heartbreak and rebellion, he opens the sealed door to this poor world, a “Suburb of Los Angeles.” – Sharon Doubiago

“How would you feel if your father smoked pot?” (circa 1970)

July 15, 2017

“How would you feel if your father smoked pot?” (circa 1970)
(or, “Don’t Bogart That Joint, Dad. Pass It Over to Mom.”)

Buttondown Collar PS - 2

This advertisement appeared almost a half-century ago in a student newspaper. Under the guise of stimulating thinking, its lead question asks “how would feel….” The blending of the initial rhetorical emphasis (“how would you feel…”) and the purported value of “thinking” is quite intentional. This appeal to an emotional outcome of a supposedly rational consideration of drug laws is a standard tactic of those who wish to repress the Dionysian exploration of consciousness in any form whatsoever.

One also might reflect upon the stereotyped image of the older generation: did the advertisers expect young people to imagine their fathers being so up-tight as to keep their collars buttoned down, even as they are halfway through their joints?

It is still difficult for me to believe that the cultivation of marijuana will become legal in large swaths of the United States. I would caution those who might take this shift to be a permanent alteration in the consciousness of the American electorate to remember that this country is on the verge of making abortion, once again, a felony. The individual’s right to control her body has been under relentless attack for several decades, and we see the consequences. The shift in drug regulation could also turn out to be a temporary alleviation of repressive state control, unless we are more vigilant than we were about reproductive rights. Let us remember that many people have gone to prison for the possession of marijuana in the past, and if Jess Sessions and his friends have their way, such will be the law of the land again.

In the meantime, I choose not to light up. Or to light up when you least expect it.

I would also call for a Democratic member of Congress to introduce an amendment to the current Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that would make a doctor’s prescription for marijuana a mandatory part of any health insurance policy sold in the United States. Just so we can do a head count to remind ourselves of how temporary this respite might be.

I am curious if anyone can guess the name of the sponsor of the ad. Trust me that there’s more than a touch of irony involved. Feel free to send me your guesses at William.BillMohr@gmail.com.

The Stoner Park Poets Picnic (Part Two)

PICNIC - Big Group

A slight different arrangement than the previous group shot. If anyone recognizes the other people, please write me.

Just now, working on this post, I remember that there was another poet’s picnic about four years earlier. It was in a park on the east side of town, and I remember Eloise Klein Healy, Deena Metzger, and Lee Hickman being at it along with enough other people to play a baseball game. I also remember that while I was playing centerfield, I tore my pants diving for a fly ball; and one of the other poets lent me a t-shirt so that the rip wasn’t too revealing. At the Stoner Park picnic, we played some soccer, which had a sad ending. The poet Blake Latimer broke her ankle about a half-hour into the game, and had to go to the hospital for a cast.

Scott Wannberg - Carol Lewis

Julia Norstrand; Carol Lewis; Scott Wannberg

Carol Lewis was one of my favorite poets in the scene at the time. I don’t believe she ever had a full-length book of poetry published. She was a thoughtful presence in the early years of the Beyond Baroque poetry workshop, and had poems in my 1985 anthology, “Poetry Loves Poetry.”

PICNIC - TRIO - BEST

Dennis Cooper; David Trinidad; Rick Lawndale (on guitar)

Bill Mohr - Bookstore T-shirt - 1

Bill Mohr, wearing an “Intellectuals & Liars” bookstore t-shirt

Bill Mohr - Green Shirt - 1

(costume change)

PICNIC - Big Group

Blog copyright Bill Mohr (c) 2017

The Stoner Park Poets’ Picnic (1980)

The reading of “5 Editors” at Papa Bach in 1974 and the large group reading that took place on Valentine’s Day, 1976, at Beyond Baroque were definitive moments in the resurgence in the poetry scenes in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. By the late 1970s, another groundswell of poetry magazines based in Los Angeles caught the West Coast still off-guard. No one was expecting Los Angeles to be the home base for so many activist editors. By the end of the decade, yet more editors were showing up, and their work provided the basis for many subsequent scenes to understand how complicated any account of Los Angeles must inherently be.

Among the most important editors were Dennis Cooper and Jack Skelley. Cooper’s Little Caesar magazine and Little Caesar press easily rank in the top 50 of all small press projects in the period between 1960 and 1990. Skelley’s magazine, Barney, was one of the rare magazines that accomplished more in its four issue run than other magazines manage to do in a dozen issues. David Trinidad and Amy Gerstler also had significant, though brief, projects at this time, too. One summer day found this new generation gathered at Stoner Park, along with two of the older editors, for a picnic.

Here are some photographs, never before shared, of “L.A. poets in their youth.” All photographs in this post were taken by me, and are (c) Bill Mohr. Group photograph (c) Cathay Gleeson.

Jim Krusoe - PICNIC - 2

Jim Krusoe holding court on a picnic table. In the background, one can see Dennis Cooper, David Trinidad, and Jack Skelley. I believe the man sitting on the bench in the foreground is Marshall Davis.

Dennis Cooper - Breaking on Camera
“Breaking on Camera”: Dennis Cooper, wearing a “My Aim Is True” t-shirt

Scott Wannberg - 1

From left to right: Joe Safdie; Julia Norstrand; (unknown person); Scott Wannberg, in red T-shirt, “McGovern 72”). Joe Safdie, it should be noted, went on to edit a poetry magazine after he moved to Northern California.

Picnic GROUP - 1

Standing, from left: David Trinidad; unknown; Amy Gerstler; Manazar Gamboa; Dennis Cooper; Rick Lawndale (with guitar); Jack Skelley; other figures in the back row, unknown); front row; kneeling, Bill Mohr; and two unknown individuals.)

High Bid/Low Bid: Donald Trump, Jr.’s Implausible Naivete

Thursday, July 13, 2017 (updated on Friday, July 14, 2017; updated again, Sunday, July 16, 2017)

“I” and “Them”: Donald Trump, Jr.’s Roll-Call of Retail Politics in the Glowering Tower

In his interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity, Donald Trump, Jr. claimed that his meeting with a person acting on behalf of the Russian government was nothing more than an exploratory encounter. “I wanted to hear them out and play it out.”

The pronouns in this assertion are crucial: “I” and “them.” The former is deceptive, while the latter turns out to be accurate. Let us note that Sean Hannity did not correct Mr. Trump, Jr.’s use of the singular pronoun in the subject of that assertion. At least two other American citizens, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, were known to have been at the meeting in addition to Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, and Rinat Akhmetshin, who has been identified as a Russian lobbyist whose background might include training as an intelligence officer. Mr. Hannity should have corrected Mr. DT, Jr. immediately: “You mean, ‘We wanted to hear them out and play it out,’ don’t you?”

The most important question for Donald Trump, Jr. is “What exactly were the three of you planning on giving them in return for the information about Hillary Clinton that was purportedly going to be dangled in front of you? ‘Play(ing) it out,’ after all, means only one thing in this context: payment of some kind for services rendered. So what was your high bid going to be, beyond which you were not willing to cough up? What was the low bid you hoped they would accept?”

Surely, Mr. Donald Trump, Jr., you don’t expect me to believe that Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and you showed up at this meeting without ever discussing or considering what would be asked for in return? Paul Manafort is a man who knows about getting paid for services rendered, and Jared Kushner is hardly a man who believes in selfless devotion to non-profit NGOs. Each of you perfectly understands that in politics, in which “money is the mother milk,” nothing on a scale of international importance is going to handed over in service to the ideals of the public good.

Surely, Mr. DT, Jr., you were not expecting to be given this information for free? “Opposition Research” is expensive, and the more valuable and damaging it is, the more expensive it will be. So what was your budget, and how is it you arrived at that budget? How could you not have calculated the bottom line in advance of the meeting? Surely you understood that the amount of money and effort already expended by the providers of this information would be a sum that would need exponential repayment in order to compensate them for the risks they took in engaging in dubious practices themselves, for as you well know — all espionage ultimately involves blackmail and bribes. Or did you honestly believe that this information had been turned up by someone in Russia who merely typed the words “dirt on Hillary Clinton” into her computer’s browser, and presto! It all popped up without having a pay a single ruble to a hacker.

Your statements make it sound as if you showed up just to find out what information was available, and if so, then and only then would you inquire about the price. Once again, I find that incredibly implausible. If a piece of real estate you are very interested in becomes available, something you explicitly say “you love,” you know down to the penny what it might be worth in the long run, and you have a fairly solid idea of how you would assemble and package the funds that would pay for it. “Opposition research” on Clinton was prime political real estate, and as always it’s location, location, location. In this case, the location is Moscow, and going into this meeting, you knew perfectly well who the escrow company was.

Or did you think you would play the role of naïve amateurs? Were you planning to say, “Oh, did you want something in return for this information?” If so, what you expecting them to ask for? Please don’t tell me, under oath, that you weren’t expecting them to ask for anything in return.

With high stakes negotiations foremost in your anticipation of a positive outcome, how can you characterize your participation in this meeting as anything other than scandalous? To get to the bottom of your apprenticeship in espionage, how much money was available in a slush fund drawer at the Trump Tower to serve as a down payment on this information? Or was it already in an attaché case next to one of you? It’s hard not to imagine well experienced entrepreneurs showing up for a potential game-changing appointment not prepared to do business. It’s always possible, of course, but since your good friend and colleague Jared Kushner failed to list this meeting on his list of contacts with foreign nationals when he applied for his security clearance, you’ll forgive me for suspecting behavior that you would not wanted recorded and broadcast, unedited, on a reality TV show.

And now for the “them” part of DT, Jr.’s statement: “I wanted to hear them out…” If Mr. Hannity had noticed the plural, he would have expressed curiosity as to why Mr. Trump did not say, “I wanted to hear her out.” If he had done so, perhaps his stature as a journalist might improve slightly, for Mr. Trump’s response that someone else representing the interests of Vladamir Putin was in the room in addition to Ms. Veselnitskaya would have been a notable scoop. In point of fact, another person accompanied her, and Mr. Rinat Akhmetshin was not present simply to be a quality control monitor of the refreshments that were served. Was Mr. Akhmetshin on the phone, too, to the same extent that Paul Manafort was alleged to be? If so, his phone as well as Mr. Manafort’s, should have their activities at the time of this meeting made a matter of public record.

These are questions that I would like one of the Senators from California to ask Mr. Donald Trump, Jr. when he shows up to testify in Congress about the meeting of Manafort, Kushner and himself with Natalia Veselnitskaya and the person assisting her in these negotiations.

Finally, I find to my amazement that Charles Krauthammer and I agree on something, and I would urge all readers to read what a profoundly conservative voice has to say about this matter:
“What Donald Jr. — and Kushner and Manafort — did may not be criminal. But it is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor. I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.” — Charles Krauthammer

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bungled-collusion-is-still-collusion/2017/07/13/68c7f72a-67f3-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-e%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.31143767e1e9

FOOTNOTE: In my fourth paragraph, I wrote: “Paul Manafort is a man who knows about getting paid for services rendered…” For more details about the employment history of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and how he was compensated for his lobbying efforts on behalf of the former President of Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovych, and his Party of Regions, see the following article:

It has been alleged that Mr. Yanukovych absconded with at least one billion dollars during his political career, before he was forced out of office. One possible indication of the presence of an “off-the-books” political economy is that the Party of Regions reported less money being spent for its operations than Mr. Manafort reported receiving as income. There is no proof whatsoever at this point Mr. Manafort was aware of this discrepancy or that he knowingly took money that might in some way be tainted. Mr. Manafort, however, is manifestly alert to the correlation of work done and compensation paid upon demand.

Grand Jury Indictment Time for the Trumpsville Express

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Next Stop for the Trumpsville Express: Grand Jury

Mr. Trump’s supporters no doubt believe that those who object to his agenda are simply “sore losers.” To lose an election is indeed no fun, for the consequences are real. One might very well, for instance, also lose one’s health insurance. I most certainly expect my spouse’s premium to increase significantly by 2018.

Let us remember, though, that Clinton won the popular vote. She lost the electoral college, but that outcome merely reaffirms the racist, misogynistic legacy of the so-called Founding Fathers. The election polls were not completely inaccurate: they predicted that a much larger number of people wanted Clinton to be President. The margin of Trump’s defeat in the accumulated total of enfranchised citizens was almost 3,000,000 votes.

Trump knew from the start of his candidacy that Hillary Clinton was going to be more successful in winning the popular vote. Trump also knew that the effects of the popular vote can be manipulated, since it is diluted by the tilted playing field of the electoral college. Unlike George W. Bush, however, Trump did not have a friend in Florida who might help him squeak out a victory on the state level and thereby secure the White House.

But he did have a “friend” in Russia. Maybe not a Facebook friend, but a friend nevertheless who understood the peculiar allocation of political power in the United States even better than Hillary Clinton. Vladimir Putin was quite cognizant that Clinton would win the popular vote, but he also calculated that all he needed to do was to help Trump tilt just enough states to win the Electoral College, and his puppet would be in the Oval Office.

Contrary to repeated public denials of any collusion with Russia, the e-mail exchange involving Donald Trump, Jr. and his extended circle of contacts in Russia reveal an individual intent on making use of the intelligence gathering services of a foreign power run by people who authorize the murder of their political opponents.

Mr. Donald Trump, the winner of the Electoral College vote, does not seem to understand that a vast number of middle-class taxpayers in the United States do not trust Vladimir Putin, and that anyone who demonstrates an eagerness to engage in “quid pro quo” arrangements with him is ethically suspect. The Magnitsky Act must remain in effect until Mr. Putin and all of his associates are brought to account for their actions in the World Court.

It is time for a prosecuting attorney to begin to make plans for a presentation to a grand jury and for indictments to be handed down. Given how anyone mentioned in these e-mails is likely to be called as a witness, those attorneys who are “ambulance chasers” cannot help but hear the sirens. Sad!

I doubt those of us who oppose Trump’s regime will be able to remove him from office, either by impeachment or by shaming him into resignation. There is no reason, however, why his son should be exempt from the maximum term in prison, should he be found guilty of breaking the law. While members of Congress probably yearn for a moment in the spotlight, such cross-examination should not be used to stall the momentum of a judicial proceeding.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/desktop/latimes/default.aspx?pubid=50435180-e58e-48b5-8e0c-236bf740270e

Two Crucial Los Angeles Poetry Readings in 1976 and 1980 (Part One)

July 11, 2017

A PAIR OF READINGS (1976 and 1980) — PART ONE

Along with Papa Bach Bookstore and Chatterton’s, Beyond Baroque became known for its variety of poetry readings as well as other events in the mid-1970s. At one point, I proposed to Jim Krusoe that Beyond Baroque hold an evening in which poets would read their favorite children’s stories. I believe that I read “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse.” The success of that evening led to other “special theme” nights.

One of the most important readings in the mid-70s was the “cover” evening in which poets read other poets. I use “cover” in the same sense that musicians will do a “cover” of a song. We all agreed that we would not read any of our own poems. Towards the end of the long evening, though, Jack Grapes couldn’t resist the temptation to underline the punch line of his own classic stand-up metapoem: “I Like My Own Poems Best.” The audience reaction was a mixture of sighs of disappointment (rather like a crowd at a baseball game seeing a perfect game ruined in the bottom of the eight inning by a bloop single) and laughs conceding the piquant irony of Grapes’s audacious prank. The list of poets who read at this event gives a quick census of the diverse communities beginning to emerge in the mid-1970s. One would note that it is hardly the homogenous community that the new poet laureate of Los Angeles fantasizes as being the poetry scene in Los Angeles at that time.

Friday, February 13, 1976 – Beyond Baroque
“An Old Fashioned Valentine: Poets reading their favorite poems by other poets.
Ameen Alwan, Georgia Alwan, Michael Andrews, Kate Braverman, Wanda Coleman, Dennis Ellman, Michael C. Ford, Jack Grapes, Joseph Hansen, John Harris, Eloise Healy, Leland Hickman, Dennis Holt, James Krusoe, Peter Levitt, K. Curtis Lyle, William Mohr, Harry E. Northup, Holly Prado, Frances Dean Smith, Otis Smith, Paul Vangelisti.

Beyond Baroque , 8:00 p.m.

LISTED BY AGE:
Joseph Hansen
John Harris
Frances Dean Smith
Leland Hickman
Ameen Alwan
Georgia Alwan
Harry Northup
Holly Prado
Michael C. Ford
Jack Grapes
Eloise Klein Healy
James Krusoe
Dennis Holt
K. Curtis Lyle
Otis Smith
Paul Vangelisti
Wanda Coleman
Michael Andrews
Dennis Ellman
Bill Mohr
Peter Levitt
Kate Braverman

Indeed, the extent to which other voices besides those of white males were beginning to be heard and given formal recognition can be found in a poetry reading series that was held at the Fifth Street Theater just a few years after this Valentine’s Day reading.