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