Barbara Maloutas (1945-2023)

Shortly after noon today, Paul Vangelisti gave me a call to talk about various topics, including the disappearance of box scores from daily newspapers. We are not alone in missing that pleasure. I think particularly of a poem by the late Tom Clark, “Baseball and Classicism.” You can find it at this blog post:

“Baseball and Classicism,” by Tom Clark

And for those in protest:

Toward the end of our conversation, Paul mentioned that he had to head over to Beyond Baroque for a memorial service this afternoon for Barbara Maloutas, a poet and book artist who worked at Otis College of Design for many years. I had not heard that she had died, so the news startled me.

I first met her when I was teaching a free poetry workshop at Beyond Baroque from the summer of 1993 to the summer of 1995. Barbara was obviously not a novice writer, but on the other hand she seemed reticent to get her poetry out into the world. I recollect that several of the poems had references to life in Greece, but she never provided any personal background that explained her attachment to those images. In general, I remember how the other members of the work always talked about one of her poems, after she had passed it around and read it, with respect and curiosity. To an unusual degree, each poem she wrote seemed to be already in anticipation of the poem that was yet to come. There was a foundation of clam inevitability to her writing. She seemed undaunted by the “youth culture” that permeated “po biz.”

Douglas Messerli’s PIP (Project for Innovative Poetry) has an obituary that gives further details about her life. According to this obituary, it was indeed around 1994 that she began writing poetry in earnest.

It is certainly not unheard of for an older poet to finally begin getting their work out in books; indeed, several women have done so in recent decades, and Barbara is one of them: swas almost 60 years old when her first full-length book, “Practices” (New Michigan Press/Diagram; 2003). That volume was followed by “In a Combination of Practices,” (New Issues, 2004), Coffee Hazilly (Beard of Bees, 2007) and “the whole Marie” (2008 Sawtooth Poetry Prize winner). In 2011, “Of Which Anything Consists” appeared from New Michigan Press.

I hope that future anthologies of Los Angeles-based poets make certain to include a generous selection of her work.

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