Category Archives: Books


“Team Bukowski”: 1993 / 2022

Sunday, January 23, 2022 – 9:00 p.m.

The poet Carol Ellis gave me this T-shirt in 1993, shortly after I had read at the University of Redlands one spring afternoon with Fred Voss and Julia Stein. The group reading was a part of a conference on working-class issues. I can’t recall exactly why she gave me this particular T-shirt. Perhaps, in a conversation after the reading, I had mentioned that I had recently received a short letter from him in response to a letter I had sent care of Black Sparrow Press. I had noticed a shift in the tonal focus of his poems at the start of the century’s final decade. It had nothing to do with the quality of his writing, which remained at the same level of consistent candor for which he had become so well known. What I had noticed in particular was how his poems seemed to be taking seriously the idea that one should write every poem as if it were the last one a person might ever be able to write. That wouldn’t mean, of course, that the poem could not be funny or witty, or even amused at the seriousness with which the poem toyed with its impetuous logic; but it had better not entertain dalliances with the trivial. I didn’t know when I got the T-shirt that Bukowski was dying.

Earlier today, Cecilia Woloch teamed up with Pam Ward for a reading on Zoom. About 40 people showed up, half of whom were familiar from dozens of other events back when we gathered in public. Cecilia and Pam, in turn, had decided to pair up Charles Bukowski and Wanda Coleman in the first half of the program as a way of setting a mood for Pam’s reading from her latest book, BETWEEN GOOD MEN AND NO MAN AT ALL. At one point, either Cecilia or Pam asked people if they had ever met Bukowski. I was surprised at how few people seemed to have encountered him. I had the honor of publishing and meeting him. In fact, I arranged for an evening in the late 1980s in which poets talked about his importance to them. It was an improvised seminar of sorts, in that I didn’t assign topics to people. It was just meant to be a thoughtful celebration of his work. I’m working on a memoir, and I guess I should include my recollections of that evening and how it came about.

I don’t think anyone in the audience knew about David James’s chapter on Bukowski and Coleman in his book, POWER MISSES, nor I do think anyone had read Laurence Goldstein’s exceptional essay on Bukowski in POETRY LOS ANGELES. Far too serious criticism on Bukowski has been undertaken by those most qualified to do so, if he’s ever to break through the kind of dismissal of his work as happened in Camile Paglia’s “Break Blow Burn,” in which she claimed that she couldn’t find a single poem by Bukowski that could match the quality of the other poems she had chosen for commentary. How is possible that she never managed to read “The Souls of Dead Animals”?

I guess here’s another example of an essay that I need to complete before I can retire and let my literary conscience rest easy.


For some context of attitudes about Bukowski’s work after Black Sparrow had made him its best-selling author, here is an exchange between the editor of DURAK magazine and George Hitchcock, the editor of KAYAK magazine, in 1978.

DURAK, The International Magazine of Poetry
No. 1, edited by David Lloyd and D.S. Hoffman (Beverly Lloyd and Deborah Hoffman)

Page 32

Hitchcock: I have tons of poetic enemies. I mean poetry which I don’t care for and which I don’t think is doing anything. We’re getting a lot of that poetry. We’re getting poets who are highly venerated but I don’t care for — Charles Bukowski, for example.

DUrak: You don’t care for Charles Bukowski’s work?
Hitchcok: No. I think he’s terrible, but he has some talent. I was just reading the other day a Robin Skleton article: reading Charls Bukowski, he says, is necessary so people can see what would’ve happened to Henry Miller if he had gone to Paris. It’s easy to be cruel to Bukowski; he laps it up; he specializes in drunken readings and insulting everybody in the audience and all his contemporaries. He does have some talent, though. I just don’t like his taco, race track and whore stuff. I don’t like Ernest Hemingway for the same reasons. Each of us has his own prejudices and the best we can do is be honest about them.

Durak: Bukowski is an a=uthenic, working-class poet —

Hitchcock: Well, it’s authentic. It’s American, but it’s a part of America I do do without, quite easily. And since I was for twenty years a workingman and thus daily in contact with people just like that, it doesn’t thrill me to make that discovery. To the generation of young, middle-class people who are not exposed to working-class culture, Bukowski is a great discovery. I dare say he is, but, to me, he isn’t. He talks with not a great deal more flair than characters I worked with in the shipyard. That’s why he’s authentic, eh represents lumpen-proletarian America. It’s real and it’s true but the whole thing is fatiguing.


Footnote: After teaching at several other colleges, including UC Modesto, Ellis has retired from the academic road show and now lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first full-length book of poetry, LOST AND LOCAL, won the Beyond Baroque poetry award and was published just a few months before the pandemic broke out. (Her writing, it should be emphasized, is nothing like Bukowski’s.) Fortunately, she was able to celebrate the book with a reading at Beyond Baroque before everything shut down.

Finally, let us hope that Beyond Baroque can resume a reading series by this summer. It would behoove that institution to announce some events to be held, if necessary, in the back patio area in June and July. The community desperately needs to have a sense that at least an occasional scheduled reading that reflects an articulated programming poetics is not that far in the future.


Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022); “The Art of Poetry” (POOL magazine)

January 21, 2022

I was at Elena Secota’s Third Friday of the Month poetry reading, which usually happens in the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica, earlier this evening when Peggy Dobreer announced that Thich Nhat Hang died earlier today. It was appropriate that I learn of this news from another poet, for it was the poet Peter Levitt who first mentioned his name and poetry to me, in Ocean Park, in the mid-1970s.

LINKS TO MEMORIAL SERVICES, FUNERAL, and Thich Nhat Hanh reading “Please Call Me by My True Names.”

Memorial Services for Thich Nhat Hanh

Memorial Practice Resources

Gratitude for Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, January 22, 2022:
8 pm eastern 5 Pacific, live streaming from Plum Village, carrying the teacher’s body to rest:


“Please Call Me By My True Names.

Please Call Me by My True Names (song & poem)

Deer Park Monastery was established by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to share the practice of mindful living.



Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master, Dies at 95


“You learn how to suffer. If you know how to suffer, you suffer much, much less. And then you know how to make good use of suffering to create joy and happiness.The art of happiness and the art of suffering always go together.”

“The peace we seek cannot be our personal possession. We need to find an inner peace which makes it possible for us to become one with those who suffer, and to do something to help our brothers and sisters, which is to say, ourselves.” (from “The Sun My Heart”)


Thanks to an invitation by my friend, Kathryn McMahon, years ago, I was able to attend a lecture by Thich Nhat Hang. Several years afterwards, I wrote the following poem, which first appeared in an issue of POOL magazine, edited by Patty Seyburn and Judith Taylor.


I wasn’t on a path or near a creek or lake.
In the gray light of a smoldering storm,
I heard the rotted wood of toppled trees
wait for my noise to loosen incandescent spores.

Once, hurrying through the thicket of a mountain,
I saw a glowing tube of threads like a mashed globe
suspended, taut, creased with undulant shadows.
A tent caterpillar, a man explained as sparks

from a fire pit decanted. But that name
did not suffice: those syllables only blurred
the motionless reverence of the tiny span
the chrysalis allowed itself as galactic cusp.

The next day a monk talked of cycles
of evasive desire. As he spoke, I rubbed
the small tear in a padded finger
of the left hand of my motorcycle gloves.

I’d hit the pavement hard, but jutted
back up. No broken bones, no lacerations.
I’m easily distracted: not much chance
to escape the sticky wheel of suffering.

As he walked past, he smiled delightfully,
though not at me as such. He had no other blessing
to disperse. Yet he’d grown up poor, I thought,
those teeth needed work when he was young.


The Night of the Living (GoDaddy) Dead

Saturday, January 22, 2022

It’s possible that those who are intermittent readers of my blog may not have noticed that there has no way to access the blog the past two weeks. It “headed south,” as the expression goes, and entered the Nocturnal Realm of the Living (GoDaddy) Deal. According to one of my oldest friends, Harley Lond, GoDaddy decided a while back to shift everyone making use of its services onto a new server. To put it mildly, things did not go well in the transition. Now, for some people such as the author of this blog, this was only a minor albeit exceptionally irritating inconvenience. It’s not as if I have a huge audience; but for someone such Harley Lond whose website (ONVIDEO) is a source of much needed remuneration, this snafu on GoDaddy’s part can hardly be easily excused. Mr. Lond had to spend dozens of hours on the phone trying to get GoDaddy’s customer representatives to solve the technical problems that GoDaddy seems not to have anticipated. A good chunk of that time was spent “on hold,” waiting for the handful of customer assistants to work their way through the queue line and help equally desperate bloggers and site owners.

For the most part, the customer reps tried very hard, but they were having to contend with a rip tide of flawed miscalculations on GodDaddy’s part. They were lifeguards whose own access to technology was barely keeping them afloat, letting alone enabling them to rescue those who had been jettisoned by the arrogant bureaucracy in charge of GoDaddy’s infrastructure. Whoever the VP of DNS might be should get a good talking’ to, as in being given his or her walking papers.

If I mischaracterized anything in this situation, I am more than willing to post a rebuttal from GoDaddy. In the meantime, I leave you with this image of how my readership cratered two weeks ago. The canyon of blank space between the blue bars represents the inexcusable demolition of my blog’s readership, which can only be attributed to glib assumptions on GoDaddy’s part that because we own the technology it will always do exactly what we want it to do.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to regain some of December’s momentum, but I can only hope that at least a few of my readers won’t have assumed that the complete absence of past blog entries meant that I had decided to play Prospero with “my book.” Perhaps most of them will eventually drift back into the habit of checking in on my blog, but in the meantime I am the one who has lost out, with no recognition of my loss from the corporate entity.

I look forward to sharing some new thoughts and links in the days and weeks ahead, assuming that GoDaddy will stop playing a fort-da, ping-pong game with my blog.


Robert Bly (1926-2021): Translator and Prose Poet

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

I saw a notice that Robert Bly died and wondered how many poets under the age of forty would be able to talk about a single one of his poems that are not found in anthologies published since 1980. I’ve only read one of the obituaries so far, so it’s hardly a large sample, but it’s my guess that very few if any of them will mention that he was one of the first poets in the early 1970s to write a significant number of prose poems. It’s easy to forget how little prose poetry was being written in this country fifty years ago. I’ll grant the limitations of the persona that often was piloting the narrative of the prose poems, but it must be conceded nevertheless that Bly’s work in that area helped acclimate a line-bound ecology in American poetry to the possible condensations available to a paragraph impacted by a poetic scouring.

His translations, too, will probably not get enough mention. It was thanks to Bly that I became aware of the work of Juan Ramon Jimenez, for instance. While obviously other poets, such as Clayton Eshleman, worked exceptionally hard to call attention to César Vallejo, very few translators were working on both Jimenez and Vallejo. Bly had a stronger ability to disown his own tendencies than most other translators of poetry back in the 1970s. I suspect that the growth of translation as a field will make Bly’s work recede into the discarded, but the influence of his translations on a generation of baby boomer poets will still be visible to those who read carefully enough.

Not enough can be said about his willingness to be public in his poetry about his opposition to the Vietnam War. Together with poets such as Allen Ginsberg (“Wichita Vortex Sutra”),the anti-war movement allowed poetry to demonstrate once again its cultural power at a moment of national crisis. Young poets may only be vaguely familiar with how poets ignited the opposition to the war in Iraq after the invasion had taken place and it seemed pointless to protest. We older poets saw that convergence of protest by poets and actual social consequences as simply a continuation of poetic efficacy upheld by figures such as Bly.

It’s possible that someone posted a tweet citing this article in which Bly’s “The Teeth Mother Naked at Last” was mentioned as a contextual political poem. I thought about it when I first read the article, but I tweet far less often than I write in my blog, so it didn’t happen. Now, however, it does seem appropriate to link that poem and this recent report of yet another atrocity by American imperialism.

Finally, let us not forget that Bly’s issues of “The Fifties” and “The Sixties,” though few and often far between as little magazine production goes, were immensely inspiring to many young poets just beginning to work as editors and publishers themselves.

I confess that I haven’t read a new poem by Bly in many years, or at least I’ve haven’t read a new poem that was a memorable experience, but several of the ones I read years ago still remain fresh in my memory: the one about the dried up corn cob, for instance, with its scathing rebuke of Christian belief in an afterlife. If you don’t know that piece, look it up, and then search for your equivalent.


PLEASED TO MEET YOU, BEASTMASTER 666: Jack Skelley’s Hybrid Undercurrents of Sunset Blvd.

“PLEASED TO MEET YOU, BEASTMASTER 666”: Jack Skelley’s Hybrid Undercurrents of Sunset Blvd.

by Jack Skelley
(Illustrations by Brian Walsby)
Fred & Barney Press, 2021

Laurence Goldstein’s POETRY LOS ANGELES: Reading the Essential Poems of the City (University of Michigan Press, 2014 is without doubt the best book-length commentary about poems that use Los Angeles as a trope. Goldstein’s concisely eloquent phrasing, acute analysis, and knowledge of the city make the book a pleasure to read, even when the subject of a given poem focuses on the grimmest aspects of the so-called counterculture of the 1960s. In Chapter Two, “Hollywood: Here and Everywhere,” for instance, Goldstein contextualizes David Wojahn’s harrowing poem about Charles Manson’s aborted songwriting career as a postmodernist version of Yeats’s “Second Coming.” Instead of vatic apocalypse, however, Wojahn’s music producer protagonist, Terry Melcher, makes history (Wojahn’s italics) a matter of a speech act in popular culture. As Goldstein points out, though, Manson’s conversion of Yeats’s sphinx-like monster into “Beastmaster 666” is not meant to be more profound than any other ideological stick-figure taunt. It is merely a “verbal prop, the sign of a hostile attitude marketable to a bored and rebellious counterculture.”

If it turned out to be a house that Melcher leased in which Manson’s followers carried out his orders for mayhem and carnage on August 8, 1969, it was in the residence of a much better-known pop culture figure that Manson first wrangled an abbreviated audition in the corporate music industry. For several months during the previous year, Manson and his entourage had informally squatted at the Sunset Boulevard home of Dennis Wilson, a singer in the Beach Boys band. The relationship between Wilson and Manson is the focus of a long, documentary-style story with a poetic coda by Jack Skelley that has been published by Fred and Barney Press in Culver City. It is heartening to see Skelley’s return to literary projects, after the long imposition of having to work as a journalist and public relations specialist.

First, though, a bit of literary history: Skelley was part of the Dennis Cooper “gang” at Beyond Baroque that was recently featured in an exhibit at the Huntington Library as part of “MADE IN L.A 2020.” The choice of Manson as a subject for Skelley’s return to literary work is perhaps not without a link to that brief but notorious scene in Venice, California that also included the late performance artist/poet Bob Flanagan as well as poets such as Amy Gerstler and David Trinidad. Skelley’s initial literary successes were as a poet published by Cooper’s small press venture, LITTLE CAESAR. Skelley’s first book of poems, Monsters, was one of the notable first books of poems published in the United States in the early 1980s, and he also became renowned for his adaptations of Kathy Acker’s writing. In addition, Skelley was in bands such as Planet of Toys and Lawndale. Many, many, many, many, many years later (cf: “Flanagan’s poem “Fear of Poetry”), Skelley’s selection of a notorious criminal responsible for several murders as one of his eponymous characters brings to mind Dennis Cooper’s novels, which have been primarily concerned with serial killers or at the very least draw upon our familiarity with such real-life instances.

In contrast with Cooper’s homosexual domain, Wilson’s and Manson’s mise-en-scene in Skelley’s rendition is thoroughly heterosexual and patriarchal in its gender dynamics. “Sexy Sadie,” the opening scene of DWCM reads almost like a parody of a scene that one might imagine at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion a half-century ago. Though it would seem to be the case that Wilson ended up encountering Manson only because of a brief dalliance with two of his followers, whom he picked up while they were hitchhiking, it is difficult to feel sorry for Wilson, whose id has been done no favors in return for attaining success in the music industry. Like those who win millions in a lottery only to die emotionally and financially destitute, Wilson’s life only takes a turn for the worse after serving as a host for Manson’s parasitical self-absorption.

Skelley’s book itself feels like a truncated Elizabethan tragedy in which acts two, three, and four have been lost. The first three scenes of Act I all take place in the late 1960s, whereas the last two scenes all occur in the final month of Wilson’s life. This temporal collage works to Skelley’s advantage: one doesn’t feel the need to have the intervening years filled out. If they are blotted out, it is because they are obscene in the etymological sense of the word: that which is kept off-stage because mimesis will only harm the viewer.

The most compelling portion of the story is in part three, in which Manson is given a monologue that might well serve as an audition monologue for any actor brave enough to give it full-throated utterance. One can easily imagine Arthur Brown’s hit song “Fire” playing in the background. Skelley has given Manson an equally operatic intensity. As with Milton’s Satan (not to mention Mick Jagger’s), Skelley’s Manson is hard to take our eyes off as his rant breaks water like a shark fin.

When I finished Skelley’s “Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson,” I felt as if I had read a major novel. For those who believe compression can be equal to any epic, this book should find its way to the pile of books on your nightstand, though you should turn on your bedstead lamp only if you prefer to have your nightmare before you fall asleep rather than in 3D REM.

You can order a copy of this book at:
Fred & Barney Press
10768 Northgate Street
Culver City, CA 90230

CONTENTS PAGE FOR “Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson”:
“Sexy Sadie” – Summer, 1968. 14400 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades
“Apple Pan” – Fall, 1968. 10452 Bellagio Road, Bel Air
“Rise” – Spring, 1969. 10050 Cielo Drive. Benedict Canyon
“Birthday” – December 4, 1983, 14400 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades
“Reverb” – December 28, 1983. Marina del Rey
“Epilogue Remix: Beach Boys Villanelle”

(Note: The Hammer Museum provided the other half of the exhibition space “Made in L.A.” In the case of Beyond Baroque, Its complementary programming included interviews with Dennis Cooper, Amy Gerstler, Sheree Rose, David Trinidad and Benjamin Weisman, as well as Jack Skelley interviewing “Beyond Baroque” installation creator Sabrina Tarasoff.)

Finally, here is an interview with Jack Skelley by Michael Silverblatt of KCRW’s BOOKWORM:

Background information:


“Metaphors Be with You” — Peter Shneidre’s Illuminati Press

Sunday, November 7, 2021

In the 1980s, bumper stickers were still fashionable enough that one could market a clever one and make a little money. I have no idea of whether poet and publisher Peter Shneidre made any significant profit on my favorite bumper sticker of that period: “Metaphors Be with You.” Given his hand-to-mouth existence as a West Coast independent press publisher, even a tiny profit would have been helpful. In any case, not many bumper stickers from forty or so years ago still have a shelf life. Several years ago, however, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center appropriated Peter Shneidre’s wistful aphorism for a T-shirt, so someone at L.A. leading literary arts center must have believed in its continuing pertinacity. Although the cinematic catch-phrase it is based on has begun to recede into a cultural footnote, Shneidre’s benediction still has a poignant caress lingering in its intonation and I am pleased to see it still in circulation. It would be nice if he got credit for it.

Of all the poet-editors in Los Angeles since World War II, Peter Shneidre has probably received the least critical attention. I would have loved to have given Illuminati Press more attention in HOLDOUTS: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992, but the University of Iowa Press insisted that I cut one-fourth of the manuscript after it had been assessed and provisionally approved by two outside readers. Fortunately, one can at least point future scholars toward a cache of archival material that will deserve extensive quotation in any literary history of Los Angeles poetry that will provide a more comprehensive account of late 20th century endeavors. Here, for the Academy’s consideration, is a list of some of the titles and authors that Shneidre published:

Laurel Ann Bogen — Do Iguanas Dance in the Moonlight (Photo by Lisa Powers) — copyright 1982, 84, 87 — $7.95 — 49 pages, 32 poemsl, including “The Night Grows Teeth”; “I Eat Lunch with a Schizophrenic”; “The VW Guide to Rock Collecting”; “Guarding the Fire” (For Anya Cronin); “Three Years Later I Still Send Anonymous Postcards to You” (Pages 15-16); “Last Postcard to Harley” (Page 37)
LAUREL ANN BOGEN – “The Projects” (Although Laurel Ann Bogen is primarily known as a poet, “The Projects” is nine prose pieces.) 1987

Kate Braverman – Hurricane Warnings – 1987 – 39 –poems – 87 pages

Tom Clark – Property – June, 1984

Michael C. Ford — Goddess Latitudes – The Great American Grab-Bag of 1945 – 2 American Plays

Laurie Fox – Sweeping Beauty, or Notes on Cinderella (1982, 1984, 1986)

Janet Gray – “I Hate Men” – 1984 and 1987 – 4 pages – 3rd edition
Janet Gray – Flaming Tail Out of Ground near Your Farm – 1987– 40 poems

James Krusoe — ABCD – September, 1984 — 225 copies
Jim Krusoe – HOTEL DE DREAM — August 2, 1988
(This was Jim Krusoe’s final published book of poems. From this point forward, he concentrated on novels and short stories. It was around this time that he founded the SANTA MONICA REVIEW, which has become one of the best known literary magazines in the country. The current editor is Andrew Tonkovich.)

Greg Kuzma – A Horse of a Different Color – 1983 (all prose poems) – 62 pages

Lyn Lifshin – Raw Opals – 1987 – 51 pages – 37 poems

Suzanne Lummis– “Idiosyncracies”

Nichola Manning – All Down to a River — 62 pages – 1984 — $4.95

Herbert Morris — Afghanistan – (1984) 225 copies, May, 1984

F.A. Nettlebeck — Americruiser 1983 – 50 pages

William Pillin — To the End of Time – 1980 – 43 pages
William Pillin – Another Dawn — 1984

Jerry Ratch — Lenin’s Paintings — – 10 pages –

Tall Tales chapbooks
Laurel Ann Bogen
Jascha Kessler
Laurie Fox
Charles Webb
David Trinidad
Jack Skelley
Gerald Locklin
Amy Gerstler
Richard Meltzer

In addition to literary magazines such as MARILYN and ORPHEUS, Peter Shneirdre also published three issues of a magazine with a name meant to echo a famous New York literary publishing house.

NUDE ERECTIONS — #1 – 1984
NIchola Manning, Bill Mohr, Robin Carr, Richard Meltzer, Amy Gerstler, Gerald Locklin, Bob Flanagan, Jack Skelley, Janet Gray
Janet Gray, Douglas Goodwin, Henry Rollins, Nichola Manning,
NUDE ERECTIONS — #3 – 1986
Charles Bukowski, Dave Alvin, Nichola Manning, janet Gray, LA Bogen, Doug Kbott, Kenneth Funsten, Steve Richmond

Finally, it should be noted that Peter was a fine poet whose work appeared in many magazines and outlets, including Exquisite Corpse, Santa Monica Review, Paris Review, Antioch Review, Shenandoah, Western Humanities Review, and Rolling Stone. His poems also appeared in my anthology, “POETRY LOVES POETRY” (Momentum Press, 1985).


Homage to Amy Uyematsu (born 1947)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

While the cake at my recent party read, “Happy Birthday to Everyone Born in 1947,” I was primarily thinking of Emily Dickinson’s census-taking in “I reckon — When I count at all,” which is to say, poets are in first place!

Today, I especially want to point your attention to a poet in Los Angeles who was also born in 1947: Amy Uyematsu. Amy was at the forefront of student struggles for justice and equity even as an undergraduate at UCLA in the late 1960s. The effect of her efforts is, in fact, visible in a recent book: MOUNTAIN MOVERS: Student Activism & The Emergence of Asian American Studies

(See also:

Two months ago, a group of poets got together to honor Amy by taking turns reading their favorite poems by her from the six volumes of her published poetry:
30 Miles From J-Town
Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain
Stone, Bow, Prayer
The Yellow Door: Poems
Basic Vocabulary
That Blue Trickster Time

Here is the link to that reading:

Amy Uyematsu’s poems also appeared in the first installment of a survey of Caliornia-based poets that David Garyan edited for Interlitq. The other poets included : Rae Armantrout, Suzanne Lummis, Glenna Luschei, Bill Mohr, Paul Vangelisti, Charles Harper Webb, Bruce Willard, and Gail Wronsky.

Here’s the link to that anthology issue:

Other resources include:

My thanks to Phil Taggart for providing the following link:

“Pandemic Postscript” and more – Poetry by Amy Uyematsu
on Eastwind – Politics and Culture of Asian Americans
Introduction: I’ve been writing poetry since my involvement in the early Asian American movement of the late 60s. Japanese-American and Asian-American themes have been important in much of my writing through the decades. While I also take on many other topics – among some of my favorites, are stones, women, culture – my anger about racism and white supremacy continues to fuel poems. During the pandemic, that anger has become rage as we’ve witnessed more racist killings of blacks and the global Black Lives Matters protests, and as we Asian Americans are experiencing anti-Asian hate at an unprecedented level. As a writer, I’ve been propelled to write protest pieces and rants about what’s going on. “Pandemic Postscript: Or Are We Becoming Too Visible” was written back in April, 2020, when anti-Asian acts were just beginning to be publicized. “THIS IS,” a rant against white supremacy and white domestic terrorism, was written a week after the January 6 insurrection. Back in 1968, the Third World Liberation Front was a leading force in students getting ethnic studies and more relevant education at San Francisco State. That Third World unity – coalitions between people of color and progressive whites – is as necessary as ever; in “Viral Briefs for the Farce of July,” I try to convey some of our common history as people of color….

the rest of the article is at this url

“Pandemic Postscript” and more – Poetry by Amy Uyematsu


Happy Birthday to Everyone Born in 1947

October 31, 2021

Yesterday afternoon and evening I threw a closing reception for Linda’s exhibition of paintings on the third floor of the Loft in San Pedro. The event also served as a birthday party for me. I had not hosted a birthday party for many, many years. My 70th birthday, in fact, hardly registered as anything more than just another vaporous increment in a life that constantly surprises me with its resilient prolongation. I decided that there wasn’t much point in putting off a formal gathering much longer, and so I sent out invitations.

This time, though, I had a motive beyond self-glorification. I wanted to attract people to the Loft to see Linda’s paintings, and a birthday party seemed to be the best possible lure. I hired a neighbor, Jana, to cater the event, which featured some of the best vegetarian chile that even the meat-eaters said made them want second helpings. I also commissioned another birthday from Stephany, who works at Gusto Bakery in Long Beach, and arranged for a “surprise guest,” the comedian Rachele Friedland to perform.

Guests arrived in two waves. The first batch showed up between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and included Alexis Rhone Fancher and her spouse, Jim, as well as Logan Esdale and Laura, and Laurel Ann Bogen and a poet friend, Marie Chambers, who also provided some astute art advice. Family relations showed up, too: my brother-in-law, Vince and his friend Marcie, arrived early. Fred Voss and Joan Jobe Smith took in Linda’s paintings, too, while the party was getting underway. The bulk of the guests showed up starting in the late afternoon: Anthony Seidman, Nylsa Martinez, Harley Lond, Paul Vangelisti, Will Slattery, Tommy Thomas, Jonathan Yungkans, Suzanne Allen, Peggy Dobreer, David Diaz, A.J. Urquidi, Marie Thibault, Rene Trevino, Neil Hultgren, and Karen and Dan Loveless, both of who drove all the way from Thousand Oaks! A neighbor who lives a block away showed up, too, and so did his companion. Several of those I’ve just named also brought along companions to fill out the studio space for Rachele’s performance. A fair number of people sent regrets at having come down with a cold, but at least we are beginning to return to the old days of the garden-variety viruses. Old age has its impediments, I am quickly learning. Afterwards, I thought to myself of at least a half-dozen people to whom I thought I had thought I had sent invitations, but didn’t have time to follow up on when I didn’t hear back. Perhaps I had somehow slipped up and never gotten one off to them in the first place? If so, forgive me.

Rachele Friendland gave a wonderful performance in which she blended some of the material that is at the core of her performance with some new lines. The final two minutes were especially acute in being both funny and poignantly rueful.

Since the paintings Linda showed were too large to negotiate the Loft’s staircase landings, we used the hydraulic elevator earlier this afternoon to haul her paintings back to the studio space on the second floor. I want to thank everyone who made this event possible and I’m sorry that I didn’t have enough time to talk with each of you individually.


Winners of the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize: 2021

Over 1800 poems were submitted to the 2021 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, and each one had the author’s name meticulously removed from the manuscript and given an anonymous identification page. About one out of every 20 poems was selected as being worthy of the attention of the finalist judges: Clare MacQueen, Mariano Zaro, and Alexis Rhone Fancher. All three chose four poems that deserved to be ranked as among the very best they read this year for this award. Each of these twelve poems will appear in an issue of Cultural Daily during the next dozen days, beginning with John Amen’s poem today.

I want to extend a special note of congratulations to Sean Thomas Dougherty, whose work I first became familiar with when he read as part of a panel of poets addressing working-class culture at an academic conference in Long Beach. I believe the panel was organized by Renny Christopher, and Dougherty’s performance of his poems remains among the very best readings I have ever attended. It does not at all surprise me that he wrote a poem worthy of this prize, and I hope this award helps to call more attention to his writing.

Here are the winners and finalists for the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, 2021:

Winner & 3 Finalists Chosen By Judge Clare MacQueen:

WINNER: “Mourning Jewelry (San Francisco, February 2021)” – Rebekah Wolman


“Self-Portrait as Wine Glass” – Angele Ellis

“Duck” – Jen Karetnick

“LDR” – Jennie Miller

Winner & 3 Finalists Chosen By Judge Mariano Zaro:

WINNER: “In the Room Next Door How Many People Have Died” – Sean Thomas Dougherty


“Uprooted” – Trish Hopkinson

“Elsewhere Meanwhile” – Laurinda Lind

“The Ropes” – Michele Herman

Winner & 3 Finalists Chosen By Judge Alexis Rhone Fancher:

WINNER: “No Longer July” – John Amen


“Leap of Faith” – Beth Copeland

“There Will Be Birds” – Susan Jewell

“You Should Probably Date Me” – Matthew DeGroat

And this is a list of semi-finalists:

Rasha Abdulhadi
Jeff William Acosta
Marissa Ahmadkhani
Chukwuebuka Alu
Owen Auman
Erica Bernheim
Onastasia Beshara
Marisela Brazfield
David Capps
Laton Carter
Martin Cossio
Judy Crowe
Bill Cushing
Colin Dardis
Steve Denehan
Obed Ebenezer
Joshua Effiong
David Egede
Michael Emmanuel
Jesse Fleming
Jean Golden
Gael Granados
Brynesha Griffin-Bey
Manar Haseeb
sheldon Herman
Beatrice Hussain
Obasiota Ibe
David Icenogle
Wendy Ingersoll
Luke Johnson
Soon Jones
Judy Kaber
Flyn Kerr-Munley
Yessica Klein
Don Krieger
Aondosoo Labe
Norma Laughter
Helene Lois
Burtola Longchar
Zachary Lussier
Katie Manning
Jeremy Martin
Abuchi Modilim
Joanne Monte
Maggie Morris
Lisa Mullenneaux
Erin Murphy
Natasha Moses Mwampashe
Akinola Olupayimo
Mayowa Oyewale
Mandira Pattnaik
rob plath
Vanessa Poster
Jessica Purdy
Bill Rector
Ana Reisens
Alun Robert
Natasha Saje
Simran Singh Rathi
Lanette Sweeney
Marianne Szlyk
Kelly Grace Thomas
Sarah Totton
Emma Trelles
Sherre Vernon
Sean Winn

At random, I picked a name from the semi-finalist list, just to see what might pop up about them and their poetry. Here is what I found on the poet Katie Manning.

Katie Manning, Ph.D., is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She teaches a variety of writing and literature courses, specializing in poetry and women writers, with intersecting interests in linguistics, 19th century British literature, and 20th – 21st century American literature. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is available from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, december, The Lascaux Review, Kahini Quarterly, and many others. Find her online at

Congratulations to everyone on this list. As all of you can see, anonymity did not preclude talent and hard work from catching the attention and approval of the judges.



Thursday, October 28, 2021 — 6:45 p.m.

The foul stench first reported in Carson several days ago is now permeating the South Rose Park area near Temple and Seventh. Linda and I first noticed the odor about an hour and a half ago, and it has now permeated our residence, despite our best efforts to close up everything.

Given that the temerpature got close to 90 degrees today, shutting up the house is the last thing one wants to do right now.

Students wrote to me today and asked for me to respond to their poems. I hope they understand that it is impossible for me to focus on their poems right now. I am developing a headache and have no idea of when this situation will abate.

It’s one thing to have to teach on-line for almost two years.

To be forced to breathe something that resembles hydrogen sulfide goes beyond the acceptable for which an apology from public officials suffices.