Category Archives: Books


“Why go on without such a family”: Poets Reading at Page Against the Machine

After visiting three art studios in Long Beach on the first day of a weekend “Open Studio” tour, Linda and I sauntered over to Page Against the Machine. It was the shortest trip I’ve ever made to read poems in public. Less than a hundred and fifty yards. This gathering of poets was organized by the primary editor of BEAT, NOT BEAT, Rich Ferguson. It was a special pleasure to be reading with Eric Morago, the publisher and chief editor of Moontide Press.

Rich Ferguson asked each of the readers to start with their own poem and then read a poem by another poet in BEAT, NOT BEAT. After reading “Good Work, If You Can Get It,” I chose to read Cassandra Dallett’s “Jails Have ATM Machines Now.” I’d never heard of Dallett before encountering her poem in BNB, but her poem is one of the truly memorable poems I have read in recent years. From henceforth, I will never see a tube of chapstick and not think of Ms. Dallett’s poem. Rich Ferguson also asked me, toward the end of the evening’s presentation, to read one additional poem, Jack Hirschman’s “Path.” Other poems that were selected and read included Yvonne de la Vega’s “I Write and I Fuck”; Wanda Coleman’s “O Soul Concealed Below”; Larry Colker’s “Crossing Over (Exhibit 204)”; Gerald Locklin’s “Iceberg Lettuce”; and Holly Prado’s “For Poets in Autumn.”

Kevin Ridgeway read his “Social Distance” with such passion that I was too startled to take a photograph of him, but in the group photograph afterward, we stood alongside each other with gratitude for having been part of such a fine reading. The only thing that was missing is for Rich Ferguson to read his own poem, “When Brought In For Questioning.”

Rich Ferguson

Bill Mohr and Rich Ferguson

Clint Margrave

Luivette Resto


Aruni Wijesinghe

Peggy Dobreer

Joan Jobe Smith Voss

Eric Morago




(The bottom two photographs, as well as the photograph of Bill Mohr reading, are by Linda Fry.

All other photographs are by Bill Mohr.


“BEAT, NOT BEAT” Reading at Page Against the Machine Bookstore

This Saturday, June 3, I will be reading with several other poets at a bookstore I love to frequent in part because I so often walk past it as I am doing other day-to-day things. And, frequently, it is the case that the right book is waiting for me there. For instance, I mentioned to Chris just yesterday that I was working on a paper for the PAMLA conference, in Portland five months from now, about William Faulkner’s complicity with the revisionist account of the Civil War that goes under the rubric of “The Lost Cause.” Chris walked over to a shelf and pulled out a paperback that was spot-on relevant: “Confederates in the Attic.” I opened it up at random, and at the top of page 291 found a paragraph that I could easily imagine quoting in my paper. And there are still over 400 other pages to read. Just as Papa Bach Bookstore and Chatterton’s Book Shop were in synchronicity with my youth as a poet, PAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE is aligned with me as an aging scholar.

However, this Saturday evening will be about my poems, as well as those of several other poets, including the publisher of BEAT, NOT BEAT, Eric Morago. I hope to see you there.

2714 E. 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90814


Homage to Tina Turner (1939-2023) — David E. James

Soon after I published “POETRY LOVES POETRY,” I got a job as a typesetter at RADIO & RECORDS, an industry trade paper whose editorial and production facilities were in a ten story building in Century City. I had worked as a typesetter at other weekly newspapers, such as the Argonaut, but those weekly newspapers were local affairs. Radio & Records was not just nationally distributed, but also mailed overseas. I worked there for ten years, and during that time a number famous musicians dropped by to talk with editors. Michael Jackson took a break from his rehearsals to come by one night; Julian Lennon, and Tina Turner, who was the most surprising one of all. Tima Turner was much shorter than I expected. It was startling to realize how much energy must have continually been surging throughout her being in order for her to be so much more bigger than life on stage.

I wish I had had a copy of my anthology with me at work when she dropped by unannounced. I do remember that a photographer took a group photograph of the workers in the production room standing with Tina, but we never saw a copy of it. If I had had a copy of PLP, I would have shown her a poem written by David E. James in her honor, which I reprint in recognize the significance of her impact on our culture.

The Fourth Confrontation With Tina Turner

when among the many changes she performs:
Somethings got a hold on me
we share the ecstasy of her possession
& in the relief of her confession we accept
complicity we acknowledge that
through the power of her persuasion
she has made herself credible in all her self
representations the pretender to all parts
in the drama of loving we see her face
to face with the perfection we have found
in her perfect simulation

each morning she retrieves her role
form the heap of clothes on the chair by her mirror
where it lies wrinkled & small
belying what it will gain
with the strutting of her stuff
though itself without depth it defines
the extent of her occupation
she has put it on so many times
that it seems custom made
& tailored to her extreme habit
it is tight like a stocking
she smoothes over her calves
& through the tautness of her thighs
bracing her legs & pushing down
to accommodate it to her essential motion
which begins as she learns forward
slipping into it with a shake through her spine
that allows the fitting play
of her breasts her shoulders & her arms
at last stretching its web
from the spaces between her fingers
it is exactly superficial
& epidermic in its response
to the flex of her bodys dance
she moves absolutely within it
it contains her so completely
you wonder if she can breathe in it
it grips her like a nightmare

where she continuously relives
the opportunity of Annie Mae Bullock
naïve in St Louis & 17
she traded for the image
heralded now by posters on the streets
her apostasy was a churching
& from Ike she took her proper name
& began the history of her own
substantial fabrication the deliberate framing
of a being more intense in which to live
an act replete with arrogance & risk
that she observes over her cheekbones
as from behind her eyes she wakes
into the dream of her personal show

she puts on her face & her final smile
in the mirror is a sigh of recognition
to the public front she beholds
that it becomes her
the assumption is complete
that for her reality will always lie
in a confrontation with Tina Turner

— David E. James

(reprinted by permission)

Anthologies Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Books

The “Beat, Not Beat” Anthology Reading at Beyond Baroque, May 20

(Brendan Constantine)

(Kennon B. Raines)

On Saturday afternoon, May 20, Beyond Baroque hosted a reading for the anthology of Beat and Beat-associated poets that was published last yearly Eric Morago’s Moontide Press. The anthology was primarily edited by Rich Ferguson, but three other poets also provided editorial guidance (Alexis Rhone Fancher, S.A. Griffin, and Kim Shuck). Most of the best-known poets in this anthology who were in the original contingent of Beat writing are dead (Bob Kaufman, Diane di Prima, Jack Hirschman, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti). Of those who read at the Six Gallery in 1955, only Gary Snyder is still with us. The roll call in this anthology of those who have passed also includes some of the most famous poets who have lived and worked in Los Angeles, such Wanda Coleman and Charles Bukowski. Ferguson’s anthology also features contemporary poets such as Douglas Kearney, Brendan Constantine, Kim Addonizio, Ellyn Maybe, Will Alexander, and former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass.

I have to admit that the subtitle of this anthology continues to puzzle me. “Screwing on the Beat Tradition.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but “screwing on” is a phrasal verb that reeks of mid-20th century slang. If one were to imagine some hipster character in a play or novel set in 1962 recounting his sexual exploits, he might say, “My girlfriend and I were screwing on the couch when we heard someone breaking into the house next door.” I understand what the editors mean by the “Beat Tradition” part of the subtitle, but the screwing part remains opaque.

The reading at Beyond Baroque included several stand-out performances. Brendan Constantine’s poem, in particular, radiated an effusive wit and command of imaginative counterfactuals that was spellbinding. Perhaps it’s time for the County of Los Angeles to have a poet laureate, too, and I would be pleased to hear that Brendan had been selected for that honor at some point in the future. Another poet who stood out is also someone who will soon have her first book of poems published by MoonTide Press, Susan Hayden. Her poem, “She Said,” reminded me of Strindberg’s great one-act play, “The Stronger,” in how it used a monologue by another character to create a self-portrait of the narrator. Perhaps the most surprising revelation of the afternoon was the performance of Kennon B. Raines, who stood in for the late Linda Albertano by channeling the exuberant vibrations that still linger in Beyond Baroque’s reading space from Albertano’s years of performing there. I was completely unfamiliar with Raines’s work, and Ferguson and company deserve applause for bringing her into the fold. There was no question but that she deserved a place alongside some of the most senior poets on the scene, such as Harry E. Northup, Michael C. Ford. and Laurel Ann Bogen. Not far behind that trio in acclaimed longevity were other poets such as Sarah Maclay and Steve Abee. If the Beat Tradition continues to reverberate in California more than any other region in the United States, it is in part because of the efforts of a publisher such as Eric Morago, whose MoonTide Press is rapidly becoming a respected heir of the small press tradition in Los Angeles that was embodied by such projects as Paul Vangelisti and John McBride’s Red Hill Press, Dennis Cooper’s Little Caesar Press, Doug Messerli’s Sun & Moon, and my own Momentum Press. Social agitation was not far from the minds of those present, and Richard Modiano’s revisitation of the theme of revolution was especially stirring. I had never heard several of the poets in person before: in particular, it was gratifying to have a chance to meet Richard Loranger, whose work I have long been familiar with, and to applaud in person poets such as Nicelle Davis, Bob Branaman, Milo Martin, and Daniel Yaryan. I was not the only poet from Long Beach: Kevin Ridgeway joined me in the final group photograph, along with the fine musical duo, Petty Chavez, whose song about Eurydice concluded the afternoon’s enchantments.

I wish that Rich Ferguson has given himself permission to read an extended piece. Given his dual role as the book’s primary editor as well as continually in motion M.C. for the event, I would have thoroughly enjoyed hearing a reprise of the poem he read at the Los Angeles Public Library event that Lynne Thompson organized about eight months ago. My own reading of “Good Work, If You Can Find It” was a peculiar experience. I was about a fifth of the way through the poem when the audience decided it was over and began to applaud. Not just a few people, the whole crowd produced a solid seven-second burst of clapping. Well, who was I to argue with them? “It ain’t over, until it’s over,” said Yogi Berra, and this seemed to be a case in point. As a bit of balm, I deeply appreciated Eric Morago’s tribute to my influence on him as one of his teaches back when he was an undergraduate as well as a MFA student at CSULB.

Finally, a short comment about the missing in BEAT, NOT BEAT. Even though BEAT, NOT BEAT includes a couple hundred poets, it is rather astonishing to realize that poets such as William Witherup, Mary Leary, Michael Hannon, John Thomas, and Bruce Boyd were left out. Does not Eileen Aronson Ireland deserve a page, too? The omission of John Thomas is especially puzzling, given that his widow, Philomene Long, was included. (In fact, Philomene Long was represented by her twin sister, Penelope, at the BB reading.) Well, omissions are inevitable, I suppose, and I myself know the pang of retrospective regret. I can never forgive myself for leaving Scott Wannberg out of POETRY LOVES POETRY.

(Harry E. Northup)

(Richard Loranger)

(Petty Chavez)


Robert Patrick — Playwright Extraordinaire (1937-2023)

I woke up this morning to the news that Robert Patrick died a week ago in Los Angeles, where he had been living for many years. I can find no evidence that the Los Angeles Times took note of the passing of this very important playwright. Perhaps the publication of an obituary in the New York Times will shame the local paper into assigning a writer to work up their own version, but I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s been a long time since the L.A. Times had knowledgeable critics at the level of Dan Sullivan and Robert Kirsch.

Sullivan was the lead theater critic for the L.A. Times in the 1960s and 1970s, and he certainly knew and appreciated Patrick’s work. It might have been just a 99-seat theater on Pico Blvd., but Sullivan was there in 1974 to review the Burbage Theater production of “Robert Patrick’s Cheep Theatrics,” (“Cheep” is not a typo, by the way), directed by Ivan Spiegel and performed by a cast that included Julie Kavner and yours truly.

I remember that Patrick happened to be in town as we were in rehearsal and he dropped in on the theater. We sat on the stage and listened to him talk. I was too star-struck to hear what he was saying. He moved about the stage in a manner that said, “This is where I am most at home,” and he exuded a confidence in his comedy as being as enduring as the work of Aristophanes. He didn’t make that claim. He didn’t need to; the plays themselves had that insouciant aplomb.

“Cheep Theatrics” was a selection of short plays from a collection by that title, and in Ivan’s hands, we had considerable fun in staging them. In Sullivan’s view, we were were a little too emphatic, and needed less enthusiasm and more restraint. Even so, I remember that audiences truly enjoyed the sense of festivity as well as the poignancy of a love story told in reverse.

At a certain point in my youth, I began to realize that my talents were even more limited than I had suspected, and that I had to make a choice between poetry and theater. I chose poetry, but I still miss theater very much. I think I made the right choice, but hearing of Patrick’s death makes me remember all over again how hard that choice was to make. There are thousands of actors and actresses and directors who count their chance to be part of Patrick’s distinguished production history one of the special moments in their artistic lives. It is we who mourn the most. The best memories are no different than any performance in needing the preparation of repetition; and may our recollections rehearse in pleasure. R.I.P., Robert Patrick.


Anacapa Review’s Third Issue

Volume 1, Number 3

ANACAPA REVIEW, Vol. 1, No. 3 (May, 2023) issue
features a dozen poets: Bill Mohr, Lynne Thompson, Sarah Maclay, Alison Luterman, Linda Neal, Kyra Spence, Peter Cooley, Patricia Nelson, Gail White, Susan Raney-O’Brien, Matthew Thorburn, Adrian T. Quintanarus, and Alison Luterman.

Also, I will be reading along with a group of poets who appeared in BEAT, NOT BEAT, an anthology edited by Rich Ferguson, this coming Saturday on Zoom. The event will be broadcast by Beyond Baroque, starting at 4 p.m. In addition to co-editors S.A. Griffin, Alexis Rhone Fancher, and Moon Tide Press’s Eric Morago, poets will include Natasha Dennerstein, Nelson Gary, Richard Loranger, Ellyn Maybe, Richard Modiano, Mike M. Mollett, Briana Muñoz, Harry Northup, Marc Olmsted, Suzi Kaplan Olmsted, Terry Wolverton, and Daniel Yaryan.


L.A. Times Book Festival Poets Reading List

The L.A. Times presented its annual book festival at USC this past weekend and the line-up included both the first poet laureate of Los Angeles, Eloise Klein Healy, and the current one, Lynne Thompson, as well as the current poet laureate of Pasadena, Ron Koertge. I wish I could have attended either Saturday or Sunday’s presentations, but Linda and I are having to move out of our studio in the Loft in San Pedro due to the rent doubling. Our last day there will be April 30th.

Even if I had been free, however, I would have preferred a line-up that featured a larger percentage of poets as eminent as Will Alexander, Kathy Fagan, Patricia Smith, Gail Wronsky, Pam Ward, and Saeed Jones, all of whom have attained canonical relevance. Putting together a poetry festival is always a tortuous proposition, however, and the choices of curators inevitably exclude certain poets decade after decade. The one advantage that such curators have is that almost no one takes any notice of the snubbing of certain poets; such amnesia is one of the major side-effects emanating from mainstream verse. At this point, any poet based in Los Angeles who has not been part of the line-up of poets in the L.A. Times book festival is either a wretched writer or someone whose body of work is too perplexing to be absorbed by any other than an extremely hermetic audience.

2023 Edition of the L.A. Times Book Festival Poetry Line-Up

Elena Karina Byrne and Marty Williams, Emcees Poetry Stage

Roger Reeves, Reading from ‘Best Barbarian: Poems’
Robert Wood Lynn, Reading from ‘How To Maintain Eye Contact’
Cynthia Hogue, Reading from ‘instead it is dark’
Courtney Faye Taylor, Reading from ‘Concentrate’
Mark Irwin, Reading from ‘Joyful Orphan’
Monica Youn, Reading from ‘From From’
Jill Bialosky, Reading from ‘Asylum’
Kien Lam, Reading from ‘Extinction Theory’
L.A. Times Book Prize Poetry Finalist Roundtable:
Anthony Cody, Cynthia Parker-Ohene, Marwa Helal, and John Evans
Will Alexander, Reading from ‘Divine Blue Light (for John Coltrane)’
Kathy Fagan, Reading from ‘Bad Hobby’
Poetry Reading: “The Los Angeles Times” and other works by Shandela Contreras
Matthew Shenoda, Reading from ‘The Way of The Earth’
Katerina Canyon, Reading from ‘Surviving Home’
Christopher Soto, Reading from ‘Diaries of a Terrorist’
Patricia Smith, Reading from ‘Unshuttered’
Cynthia Parker-Ohene, Reading ‘Daughters of Harriet: Poems’
David Baker, Reading from ‘Whale Fall’
Dana Gioia, Reading from ‘Meet Me at the Lighthouse’
Marwa Helal, Reading from ‘Ante body’
Anthony Cody, Reading from ‘The Rendering’
Jacqueline Osherow, Reading from ‘Divine Ratios’
Donna Sprujit-Metz, Reading from ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’
Brenda Cardenas, Reading from ‘Trace’
Eloise Klein Healy, Reading from ‘A Brilliant Loss’
Douglas Manuel, Reading from ‘Trouble Funk’
Melissa Studdard, Reading from ‘Dear Selection Committee’
Poet Gail Wronsky and Artist Gronk Present “The Stranger You Are”
Doing the Work: Talking with Chowdhury Prize Recipient Victoria Chang
Boris Dralyuk, Reading from ‘My Hollywood and Other Poems’
Saeed Jones, Reading from ‘Alive at the End of the World’
Stuart Dischell, Reading from ‘Lookout Man’
Los Angeles Poet Laureate Lynne Thompson, Reading from ‘Fretwork’
Vandana Khanna, Reading from ‘Burning Like Her Own Planet’
Pam Ward
Ron Koertge
Jessie Kim


Laurence Goldstein — Poet, Scholar, Professor, Editor (1943-2023)

On Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from Nancy Goldstein that one of my most cherished friends had died this past Sunday. A cherished friend is one who is irreplaceable, and most certainly at this late stage in my life, there is no one quite like him that I anticipate meeting and bonding with. Larry had enormous reserves of intellectual acuity, and it amazed me that someone could sustain that capacity and be such a kind and generous person. Larry Goldstein was the most modest man of accomplishment in his field I ever met, and I profoundly regret that I did not have a chance to get to know him earlier in my life.

I suppose some of the delay in not getting to know him until around ten years ago was due to my late-blooming as an academic. Larry had already been a professor for three and a half decades when I got my first tenure-track appointment, and the fact of the matter is that we traveled in different circles for most of our lives, though these circles were orbiting like twin planets at diametrical points around the same sun. That sun was Los Angeles poetry, which Larry loved and cared about more than any editor or critic outside of those living in Los Angeles. His book, POETRY LOS ANGELES, was not listed on the recent compilation published by the Los Angeles Times of essential books about Los Angeles, but for me it is THE book that I would love readers interested in West Coast poetry to start with.

One can find obituary statements at the following links, though I would like to add to it that Larry was a very, very fine poet, and it is his poems I look forward to spending my free time with in the weeks and months to come. One of his colleagues at the University of Michigan, Alan Wald, commented on this aspect of his life in an announcement composed for the Department of English at UM: “He was a poet and scholar of the highest intelligence and character.” If Larry was able to give assiduous precedence to other poets during his decades of work as editor of Michigan Quarterly Review, it was no doubt because at the core of his awareness he knew the value and heft of his own poems, and that they would continue to hover in other’s imaginations long after anyone could hear him read the poems out loud, in person. We now have the person of his poems to keep us company, though that hardly suffices for what his family and friends would prefer: the unmistakable gift of himself.

Laurence Goldstein – January 5, 1943- April 16, 2023


BACKSTORY: “12 Angry Men” at the Victory Theater (featuring Bill Mohr’s monologue “Whose Gun”)

A considerable number of poets in Los Angeles have been involved with theater, film, television, and radio drama over the years, including Harry Northup, Suzanne Lummis, Jack Grapes, Viggo Mortensen, Beth Ruscio, Paul Vangelisti, Michael Lally, Robert Peters, Murray Mednick, Wanda Coleman, Rob Sullivan, and Alexis Rhone Fancher. That list is only partial, of course, and is meant only to suggest the variety of poets who work in other mediums.

In recent years, The Victory Theater Center, in Burbank, has been exceptionally open to poets in a bimonthly series called “BACKSTORY,” in which Carl Weintraub and Adele Slaughter choose themes based on movies and bring together an ensemble of writers and poets to address these themes, no holds barred.

This coming Sunday, the classic film “12 Angry Men” will serve as the context for a sequence of monologues and poems that had a rehearsal on Thursday, via Zoom, that was as exciting as any poetry reading I’ve ever been to. I hope you can attend in person, but it will also be broadcast on Zoom.


BACKSTORY: 12 ANGRY MEN – Sunday, April 16th – 7:30 p.m.

Augustus Britton
Rashim Cannad
Gerald James
Leon Martel
Robert McDowell
Bill Mohr

Hosted by Carl Weintraub

The Victory Theatre Center
3326 West Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505

Bill Mohr’s monologue is entitled, “Whose Gun.”


Poetry Reading Festival Schedule: March 25 and 26

Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26
at West Hollywood Park
647 N. San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA.
2 p.m. – 10 p.m.
A Joyful All-Inclusive Arts Celebration of Women

Full schedule at:


Saturday, March 25

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m

LIGHT TREE (closest to stage)
Lynne Thompson
Karen Kevorkian
Shelly Holder

3:20 – 4:20
Pam Ward
Terry Wolverton
Bill Mohr

SKY TREE (north end of park)
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Kate Gale
Hanna Pachman
Amy Rasch

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Jen Cheng
James Evert Jones
Amelie Frank

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Brendan Constantine
Ron L. Dowell
KIm Dower

5:50 – 6:50 p.m.
Susan Suntree
Phoebe MacAdams
Jimmy Vega

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Suzanne Lummis
Laurel Ann Bogen
Gedda Ilives

5:50 – 6:50 p.m.
Alicia Portnoy
Molly Bendall
Gail Wronsky

DAY. TWO – March 26

3:15-4:15 p.m.
Amy Shimshon-Santo
Jessica Abughattas
Luivette Resto

3:20 – 5:20
Leah Zahner
Poet Astrid

3:15 – 4:15
Leslie Monsour
Lynda V.E. Crawford
Amy Elisabeth Davis

4:20 – 5:20
Deborah Scott Studebaker
Tom Laichas
Nancy Woo

5:45 – 6:45 p.m
Brin Sonia-Wallace
Bryn Wickerd
Rita Ray

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Tanya Ko Hong
Michelle Bittiing
Alexis Rhone Fancher

4:20 – 5:20 p.m.
Traci Kato-Kiriyama
Allison Hedge Coke
Carolina Rivera Escamilla