Category Archives: Books


The Vinyl Aura Reading: Michael C. Ford and Bill Mohr

TWO POETS – BILL MOHR will have the honor of reading
7:30 p.m.
Dizzy on Vinyl Records
3004 East Seventh Street
(between Redondo and Temple Avenue)
Long Beach, CA 90804
MICHAEL C. FORD — The legendary poet of the Spoken Word Movement
(LANGUAGE COMMANDO — Grammy nominated recording; EMERGENCY EXITS: Pulitzer nomination; LOOK EACH OTHER IN THE EARS)
Accompanied by live music
FREE (along with refreshments!)


Blog Table of Contents Highlights

Monday, October 23, 2023

Here are some of the people and subjects I have written about in this blog during the past few years, wit a few occasional contributions by guest writers. Reviewing this list takes my mind briefly off the fact that the Department of Motor Vehicles has outdone itself again in providing mediocre service to those whose taxes support its ineptitude. This time, a “major hardware catastrophe” has led to a complete and total shutdown of 100 offices across the state, including the one in Long Beach, where I have now twice gone to get my license renewed. No one at the DMV, of course, will accept any responsibility for this disaster, nor will anyone associated with this collapse pay any penalty to compensate those who face more than just “inconvenience,” but actual loss of money and professional reputation.

Hold-Outs: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance, 1948-1992 by Bill Mohr (University of Iowa Press, 2011)

Doug Knott — Poet, Actor, Producer — R.I.P.
Amy Uyematsu (1947-2023)
Sesshu Foster on Amy Uyematsu
Chatterton’s Bookstore: The Legendary Forerunner to Skylight Books
Papa Bach Bookstore – Los Angeles AND Jackson Hole, Wyoming
“Spin, Spider, Spin” – Patty Zeitlin’s Songs for Children
Brian Jones and the Fiftieth Anniversary of “The Last Time”
“He, Leo: The Life and Poetry of Lew Welch” by Ewan Clark
Murray Mednick’s THE COYOTE CYCLE — The Documentary Film
Paul Vangelisti Reviews “OUTLAW THEATRE”
Tim Reynolds, Poet and Translator (1936 – 2022)
Linda Albertano (1952-2022) and Jean-Luc Godard
Anacapa Review’s Third Issue
“The John Ford Chapel” — a poem by Harry Northup
The Garden City Horse Sculpture
Barbara Maloutas (1945-2023)
Homage to Tina Turner (1939-2023) (by David E. James)
Mark Weiss: “A Suite of Dances” (forthcoming from Shearsman)
Songwriter Poets in Search of Vinyl Classics
Kate Braverman (1949-2019): Poet and Novelist
Laurence Goldstein — Poet, Scholar, Professor, Editor (1943-2023)
“A Day of Poetry at the Downtown Los Angeles Public Library”
“Why go on without such a family”: Poets Reading at Page Against the Machine
Audri Phillips and the “Ladies of Courage” Project in West Hollywood
“The Social Imaginary” and A.I. (aka “Airbrushed Intelligence”)
Tom Verlaine (1949-2023); Patrick McKinnon (1957-2021)
Poetry Project 2023 New Year’s Day Reading: Complete Schedule
“BEAT, NOT BEAT” Reading at Page Against the Machine Bookstore
“The Moon and the Night and the Men” — John Berryman
The Collected Poems of Eugene Ruggles
John Harris, In Memoriam
Epigrams: Post-Modern and Regressive
Beyond Baroque’s Tribute to Poet-Actor Harry Northup, 9/16/23; 2 pm (PST)
John Macrae III, NYC Publisher (1931-2023)
Bob Flanagan – On the 20th anniversary of his death
A tribute to Jay Hopler by one of his many readers (Alison Turner)
48 Hours: Northup, Voss, and Mohr
PINBALL WIZARD — a novella by Michael Meloan
“I Wanna Be Loved By You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe” (including “Labials” by Bill Mohr)
PLEASED TO MEET YOU, BEASTMASTER 666: Jack Skelley’s Hybrid Undercurrents of Sunset Blvd.
The “Beat, Not Beat” Anthology Reading at Beyond Baroque, May 20
BACKSTORY: “12 Angry Men” at the Victory Theater (featuring Bill Mohr’s monologue “Whose Gun”)
Five Poems by Mark Salerno
“Team Bukowski”: 1993 / 2022
Two Video Links: Oriana Ivy and Holly Prado
Clayton Eshleman — Poet; Editor; Translator (1935 – 2021)
Cornelia Street Cafe and Jackie Sheeler (1957-2018)
John Harris, In Memoriam
Peter Schjeldahl: Poet and Art Critic (1942-2022)
Jim Krusoe: a review of HOTEL DE DREAM
Happy 50th Anniversary, Chatterton’s and Skylight Bookstores
Pumping Thoughts during a Turn-Around Trip to San Diego
Mike Sonksen and Mike Davis
At 75, Backing Up a Quarter-Century
The UC Collision Course with Grad Students
TONIGHT: “Coalescence” Poetry Reading in Long Beach
From Columbine to Buffalo: How can we not live in fear …. and regret?
New National Poet Laureate — and the Overlooked….
“La mirada aguda y generosa”: Pruebas Ocultas (Hidden Proofs) by Bill Mohr
Poetry Project 2023 New Year’s Day Reading: Complete Schedule
Cecilia Woloch reports on the Ukraine from Poland
“Shadow Ball: New and Selected Poems” by Charles Harper Webb
Part Five of the Interlitq Anthology of California Poets
Peter Robinson and the “Inspector Banks” Novels
Happy Birthday, Ron Padgett!
Either/Or Bookstore and “Barbarian Days”
Five Editors Reading their Poetry at Papa Bach (1974)
Ennio Morricone and Steve Erickson’s “AMERICAN STUTTER”
Gerald Locklin (1941-2021)
“Metaphors Be with You” — Peter Shneidre’s Illuminati Press
Gail Wronsky: Interview in POETRY FLASH
Tim Reynolds, Paul Blackburn and the Archive for New Poetry
Lewis Warsh (1944-2020): “Leaning against a door frame”Greg Kosmicki: “Whenever I Peel an Orange”
Domenic Cretara — Masterful Artist and Extraordinary Teacher — R.I.P.


Linda Fry and the Long Beach Open Studio Tour

Friday, October 20, 2023

Linda Fry’s Art Studio
613 Molino Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90814

(Hye-Sook Park, an artist Linda has known for almost 40 years, visited Linda’s studio yesterday, October 21st.)

Linda’s new studio on Molino Avenue (between Sixth and Seventh Street) in Long Beach will have her work on display this weekend (Oct. 21-22) as part of Long Beach’s annual Open Studio tour, from 1 pm-5 p.m. At the end of this past April, we moved out of Loft Studio in San Pedro, where we had worked since January, 2019. The first year was really wonderful. The studio space was engorged with light and we felt like we had found a community of artists who were more than worth the trek through a bridge construction project that never seemed to end.

Just as a very fine ensemble of paintings had been wonderful hung on the main gallery walls, however, the pandemic blew a whistle just as the opening reception was about to take place: no one ever saw it except the artists, and even we only got a brief glance at it. The next year and a half was in survival mode, especially since I had to teach on-line. One saving grade, in addition to brief, furtive visits, was that eventually we began to meet Alexis and Jim Fancher for dinner at our studio. We’d eat take-out food from Senfuko and laugh and talk about films and poetry.

Jana Vandenberg, who lives across the street from us, volunteered last winter to convert her garage into a studio space for Linda. With the advice of Cody Lusby, Jana did a fabulous job of transforming an aged garage into an all-out working space; this month marks the beginning of Linda’s formal residency. Please come out and celebrate with us. If you need directions, I’m at


Blue Collar Review: Latest Issue featuring Fred Voss and Bill Mohr

Thursday, October 19

Yesterday’s mail contained the latest issue of BLUE COLLAR REVIEW. In addition to the print version, PARTISAN PRESS also has a website that features a half-dozen or so of representative poems in the issue. I am very pleased to be featured once again on-line in this issue along with a poet I recently read with at PAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE in Long Beach.I have read with Fred many times, including the University of Redlands in 1993 and the Long Beach Museum of Art in the late 1990s, as well as events organized by Suzanne Lummis for her Los Angeles Poetry Festival.

Here’s the link:

I wish that the California Faculty Association had as much gumption as the editors of BLUE COLLAR REVIEW.


Upcoming CFA Vote on CSU Faculty Strike

October 9, 2023

Writers, actresses, actors, nurses, and auto workers have all either been on strike or are still on strike in 2023. It may not be long before faculty at the California State University join their demands for an equitable care of the nation’s wealth. Negotiations between the California Faculty Association (CFA) and the Chancellor’s Office revealed an enormous discrepancy: the CO insisted that faculty take a pay cut. Technically, it wasn’t a reduction in salary. after all, the CO offered a generous “raise” of five percent. The problem, of course, is that inflation has been a double-digit number. Mediation failed and now the CFA is waiting for the fact-finder’s recommendations, which are not likely to favor the CO, especially since the CSU is sitting on a “rainy day fund” of EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS. Unlike previous sets of negotiations, the CFA has decided not to wait until after the fact-finder’s report to hold a referendum on taking a job action, up to and including a strike.

This is hardly the first time that such a vote will have taken place. In 2012, for instance, the CFA called for a vote, and by chance — on the very day that Ron Silliman was visiting the campus to give a reading — I walked to the polling booth and cast my vote just as a reporter and photographer for the college’s newspaper were taking the pulse of the turnout. Without any hesitation whatsoever, I thrust my ballot into the air. If you can’t see that it’s marked “yes,” I assure you that it was.

Over ten years later, inflation has eaten into my earnings, much as it has other workers. Despite receiving glowing reviews of my work on campus and two promotions, my base salary is only ten percent more than it was 18 years ago, once inflation is accounted for. That amounts to a little over a half-percent “raise” per year since 2006. Given the massive difference between then cost of trying to buy a house in Long Beach between 2006 and 2023, I hardly feel as if the “deep appreciation” of the CSU Chancellor’s Office for the hard work of faculty is anything more than lip service.

In the past, the CO has always waited until the last moment to change its mind and improve its offer enough to win the CFA’s approval. My guess is that this time the CO will force the CFA to go on strike in order to maintain our equity in this system. The CO will want to make it look like the CFA selfishly put the economic stability of its membership over the educational needs of students. However, while the students will miss a few classes, demonstrating that workers have the power to change the conditions of their employment is one of the most important lessons we can pass on to them, regardless of their major.

Update on October 22nd: I heard the past week that a tentative agreement has been reached. If so, and the CFA has accepted the five percent pay raise offered by the Chancellor’s Office, I can only say that the CFA would demonstrate how it is one of the weakest unions in the nation. Everyone else is going out on strike and winning far larger increases. It is inexcusable for the CFA to agree to what amounts to a pay cut.


Linda Fry’s Open Studio in South Rose Park (Long Beach)

Saturday, October 7, 2023

After slightly over four years at studios at the Artist’s Co-Op on Gladys Avenue in the Zafateria section of Long Beach as well as at the Loft in San Pedro, Linda has relocated to a studio right across the street from where we live in South Rose Park. Long Beach has nurtured a series of open studio tours over the past decade and Linda’s studio will be open on the weekend of October 21-22. l am including the link to the LBOST website, at which one can find maps to the studios, a complete list of participating artists, and the weekends they will be showing.

613 Molino Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90814
OCTOBER 21-22, 2023


In celebration of Long Beach Arts Month as well as the National Arts and Humanities Month, your local artists will be opening their studios to visitors for the Long Beach Open Studio Tour (LBOST) during 4 weekends in October. Each weekend is a different area of Long Beach, CA.


1. Artspace 3232 – Painter / Sculpture / Mixed Media
2. Joanna Branch – Mixed Media
3. Angelica Fegley – Painter
3. Lance Carlson – Painter
3. Katie Stubblefield – Painter
3. Lisette Thierry – Jeweler
4. Linda C. Fry – Painter
5. Cody Lusby – Mixed Media
6. Marka Burns – Mixed Media
6. Mic Burns – Mixed Media
7. Mike Biagiotti – Mixed Media
8. Melinda Rasch – Mixed Media
9. Ross Sonnenberg – Mixed Media
10. M. Danko’s Black Box MicroGallery
11. Tonya Burdine – Painter
12. Dylan Mortimer – Mixed Media
13. Amelie Simmons – Painter
14. I.Angelov – Painter
15. 690 Coronado – Sculpture / Mixed Media


Pct 7 – 8
1. Tina Burnight – Ceramics / Mosaics / Mixed Media
1. Lisa Wibroe – Mixed Media
2. Micro Gallery 23 | Jeremy Woodard
3. Micro Gallery 17 | Heather Ross
3. Dave Clark – Mixed Media
3. Kathryn Heaton – Ceramics
5. Angie Crabtree – Painter
5. Ziyi Tan – Painter / Drawer
6. Norm Zeigler – Painter
7. Adrien Edwards – Painter
8. Loiter Galleries
9. Mark Morale – Painter
10. Michele Rene – Painter

October 14 – 15
1. Michelle & Mathew Ohm – Drawer/ Ceramicist/ Textile/ Mixed Media
2. Jaime Sabatte – Mixed Media
3. Gregory Navarro Pickens – Painter
4. Bob Rosenfield – Wood Worker/ Sculpture
5. Joe Devinny – Wood Worker
5. Joyce Carol Watanbe – Jewelry
6. Nadine Wener – Painter
7. Ghermayn Baker – Wood Worker / Furniture
8. Philip M. Smith – Enamel / Mixed Media
8. Robin K. Smith – Jewelry / Toy Design / Mixed Media
8. Jaime Sandberg – Photography
8. Carol Kron – Jewelry
8. Carin Jacobs – Costume Design
9. Susan Hartman – Painter
10. Jacob Briggs – Painter
11. Andy Dickson – Painter
12. Billy Mitchell – Ceramicist

October 28 – October 29

1. Sin Confections – Culinary/ Chocolatier
2. Angela Willcocks – Painter/Drawer
3. Annie Clavel – Painter
3. Maureen Vastardis – Painter / Photographer
4. Amy Bauer & Richard Hecht – Fashion Designer / Painter
5. Ramon Rodriguez – Wood Worker/ Painter/ Mixed Media
5. Debbie Rodriguez – Drawer/ Graphic Designer
6. Sarah Arnold – Painter
6. Ann Bridges – Painter
7. Dave Conrey with Michele Morgan – Mixed Media / Painter
8. Andrew Pisula – Wood Worker/ Mixed Media
9. Betsy Lohrer Hall – Mixed Media
10. Sayon Syprasoeuth – Mixed Media
11. Dorte Christjansen – Drawer/ Painter
11. Lisette Thierry – Jeweler
12. Tom Harmon – Wood Worker
12. Louise Ivers – Photographer
13. John White – Painter
14. Donald Tiscareno – Painter
15. Bill & Joan Heynen – Wood Sculpture
16. Kris – Ceramics
17. Carol Bliss
18. Gil Cabble – Wood Worker


“The Social Imaginary” and A.I. (aka “Airbrushed Intelligence”)

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

I was recently reading about the design process of an album cover of a popular band in the mid-1980s. Apparently, since photoshop would not become available for a couple more years, the designers had to use an airbrush in order to give each member of the quartet the same homogenous “glow.” It wasn’t long after reading that article that I realized how “Artificial Intelligence” really should be categorized as “Airbrushed Intelligence,” since nothing A.I. can generate, on a creative level, has any character or substance. To say it lacks “duende” should be so obvious that it doesn’t need saying, but the whole point of modernity is that “all that is solid melts into air.”

“Airbrushed Intelligence” erases and manipulates. The only thing it can facilitate is the production of what Norman Klein calls in THE HISTORY OF FORGETTING the “social imaginary,” which will only become more alluring to the naive once it is linked up with VR headsets. Not all of us will succumb, however. My one brief experience with a VR headset made me realize that those who are not easily hypnotized find the images presented to be unbelievable. One of course recognizes what one is seeing, but it lacks credibility.

Unfortunately, even as we have just seen how a very tiny minority can disrupt the possibilities of political compromise in the House of Representatives, it will take only a very small number of people to become entangled with A.I.V.R. to completely destabilize the fragile equilibrium of our trust in each other. How can our rationales for agreeing on a shared set of presuppositions ever maintain any cohesiveness when they are subjected to an always already dilution of their rough-hewn entryways? A.I. wants only to suppress the material conditions from which our ideas emerge, and unless we demand an accounting that inordinately taxes that process, we will end up empty-handed, begging for another chance to attain some unmodified and unmodifiable identity.


“He, Leo: The Life and Poetry of Lew Welch” by Ewan Clark

“He, Leo: The Life and Poetry of Lew Welch” by Ewan Clark
Oregon State University Press, 2023

In the early 1980s, a poet living in the Lone Pine-Bishop area of California invited poets working in the California Poets-in-the-Schools program to take part in a poetry festival. I’m not sure how she managed to get so many local schools to sign up as sponsors, though at the time the PITS program was still enjoying the benefits of poetry being a regular part of elementary school curriculum. Among the poets invited was Kit Robinson, whose choice of model poems included Lew Welch’s “After Anacreon,” which had been featured in Donald Allen’s NEW AMERICAN POETRY. I knew of Kit as a poet associated with the Language poets, and it surprised me that he was so enthusiastic about Welch. Perhaps, however, one thing that makes Welch such an intriguing figure is how he commands the attention of poets interested in very different templates.

Although RING OF BONE had been published just a few years after Welch had pulled the same “disappearing act” as Weldon Kees had done in the previous decade, Welch’s work has not subsequently gained the same kind of posthumous traction that Kees has achieved. Perhaps, some might argue, Kees produced a more substantial body of work. Even if one were to subscribe to that assessment, Welch has been massively underappreciated and I wish Clark’s book could have spent more time on Welch’s poems. Just now, for instance, reading “Song of the Turkey Buzzard,” I noted that one obvious comparison would be to Robinson Jeffers’ “Hurt Hawk.” For all I know, someone has written of it. If such is the case, it’s not mentioned in this book, and it would make a stronger case for Welch if it had been. I remain among those who admire Welch’s meditative lyrics. There are not that many poets who intermingle disparate complexities of emotional registers without indulging in rhetorical display.

That Welch deserves a biography might seem to the remnant of his surviving audience to be beyond dispute. On the other hand, it’s doubtful that anyone else will ever bother to put in the work needed to further bolster Welch’s standing in the Beat movement. Excellent biographies inevitably make a case for a sequel, and Clark’s biography is unlikely to inspire anyone to take on that task. Fortunately, Clark’s thorough inquisitiveness has at least filled in the story of Welch’s life sufficiently enough by including a large cast of Welch’s friends. Not least among the contextual evidence that Clark presents is his reminder that Welch took part in several important readings in the Bay Area. Welch, like Jack Spicer, was not in town for the famous Six Gallery reading, but Welch headlined several other readings with poets who participated in that reading, and his linkage with them as a peer deserves to be taken seriously. On the whole, Clark’s devotion to his poetic hero ends up rewarding his readers at unexpected junctures in Welch’s life; Clark is particularly superb at sketching the factors affecting those choices, including the crucial influence of Welch’s extended indulgence in psychoanalysis. On the literary side, Clark also digs up unexpected connections between Welch and other poets. How many contemporary poets would ever guess that Marianne Moore, for instance, was an ardent admirer of Welch’s poetry? I, for one, would never have suspected that Moore reviewed Welch’s work or corresponded with him.

In regard to the next point I want to make, I’m not certain that Clark had much of a choice. Sobriety would have saved Welch from his deplorable fate, and I confess that I find myself dismayed at how much Welch’s first biography ends up being a cautionary tale about excessive use of alcohol. I suppose if we can put aside his “expense of spirit in a waste of shame,” we can console ourselves with the knowledge that his best poems have the power to renovate our own lives and prevent us from succumbing to the stultifying psychic paralysis that is so endemic to American culture. Nevertheless, some readers will probably end up sighing as I did: “If only Welch had not spent so much of his youth living and working in Chicago on a job that forestalled his maturation as a poet!” Those were choices he made, nevertheless, and Welch’s endgame countenance and persona can no more avoid the consequences than those who lived more conventional lives.

One odd thing about the book itself is that it lacks any blurbs. While I am not a huge fan of such promotional gestures, they are often the only kind of critical response that a book receives, and Clark’s biography of Welch deserves to find its way to library shelves as well as the bedstead pile of general readers who remain curious about offbeat literary history. As such, therefore, here is my blurb:

“When the so-called Beat Generation first ruptured into public visibility, Lew Welch was far from being at center stage. During the decade and a half following the publication of “Howl and Other Poems” and “On the Road,” however, Welch reconnoitered with Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen and proceeded to produce a poignant body of work. Along the way, he was featured in some of the most important readings in the epicenter of the San Francisco scene and collaborated with Kerouac on a sequence of poems. While Ewan Clark’s biography does not flinch from recounting Welch’s false starts, it also delineates his vivid contributions to the chorus of Beat writing. In honoring Welch’s accomplishments as well as acknowledging his flaws, Clark makes the reader care about this poet as a triumphant survivor, at least in his poems, of one of America’s most turbulent periods of cultural renewal.” — Bill Mohr


Kevin Opstedal wrote me after reading my entry on Welch, and with his permission I am adding a paragraph from his letter to this blog entry.

“Welch has been a very important poet to me ever since I first stumbled across his poems when I was in high-school in the mid-seventies. Since then, he has always been in the core rotation of poets I continually return to for inspiration & instruction. A poem such as “Wobbly Rock” is a masterwork, as is “The Song of the Turkey Buzzard.” He was also very important to other poets I have respected & was lucky to know personally, including Lewis MacAdams, Joanne Kyger, Philip Whalen, & Bill Berkson. Joanne was one of the editors of The Turkey Buzzard Review (a magazine published in Bolinas in the 70s) the title being an homage to Welch. I never got to see him read in person, but according to Joanne his readings were true performances. She told me once about a reading she was to give with Welch in the 60s. The organizers of the reading wanted Joanne to read after Lew. As Joanne related to me, Lew would sing & often cry during a reading & there was just no way anyone could follow that, so she insisted on reading first.” — Kevin Opstedal


Born and raised in Venice, California, and currently residing in Santa Cruz, Kevin Opstedal is a poet whose more than two dozen books and chapbooks include four full-length collections, Like Rain (Angry Dog Press, 1999), California Redemption Value (UNO Press, 2011), Rare Surf: Vol. 2 (Smog Eyes, 2006), and Pacific Standard Time (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016).The late Lewis MacAdams observed that Opstedal’s poems “are hard-nosed without being hard-hearted.” Among other anthologies, Opstedal’s poems appeared in CROSS-STROKES: Poems between Los Angeles and San Francisco, edited by Bill Mohr and Neeli Cherkovski.


Upcoming Events: Readings and a Conference

The autumn equinox this year hit its mark this past Saturday, September 23, at 6:50am GMT. Although the five weeks leading up to that date have been more busy than usual, I have somehow managed to keep most of my projects on schedule. I recently made another trip, for instance, down to UCSD with boxes for my archive, which is now being processed; and the long-forestalled reading I gave with Fred Voss at Page Against the Machine bookstore was a delight. I’ve heard Fred read many times over the years, but this was the best I’ve ever seen him.

After several years of not giving face-to-face readings, I have two solo events coming up and one group reading:

October 16 — Sacramento Poetry Center
November 16 — Poetry Center at Davis
December 11 — Magra Press poetry reading (Downtown Los Angeles)

I will also being giving a paper at the PAMLA conference in Portland at the end of October.

My chapbook, DISPLACEMENTS, should be out from Magra Press by mid-November, at which point I am supposed to have my chapter for a multi-author volume on “Literary L.A.” turned in. I was tempted to start teaching only one semester a year starting in 2023-2024, and devoutly wish I could have done so. As usual, financial pressures controlled that choice, but this will indeed be my last full year of teaching.

I look forward to my upcoming partial retirement as a chance to be more regular in posting on this blog!


48 Hours: Northup, Voss, and Mohr

Sunday morning, September 17, 2023

On Friday morning, Linda and I drove down to the University of California, San Diego with another increment of material for the Archive for New Poetry. After handing off the boxes, Lynda Claassen, took us to lunch along with Nina and Carla, who have been in charge of cataloguing my material, after which we went over in detail some of the cassettes and CDs I had brought alone. Carla, in particular, had questions about my use of the Compugraphic 7500 typesetting machine to produce some of the material that she has encountered so far. The trip down was exceptionally quick: an hour and a half. The return took an hour longer, but I was so happy about getting these boxes out of my workspace at home that the drive seemed far less onerous than usual. I have delivered over 50 boxes up to this point, and am finally heading down the home stretch. Other L.A.-based poets whose archives are at UCSD, by the way, include Harry Northup, Holly Prado, Lee Hickman, Paul Vangelisti, Doug Messerli, Dennis Phillips, Mark Salerno, and Bob Crosson. Wanda Coleman’s archives are at UCLA, along with those of Stuart Z. Perkoff. Among other poets who appeared in POETRY LOVES POETRY and whose papers are archived include Dennis Cooper, David Trinidad, and Ed Smith (all at New York University); and Bob Peters (University of Kansas). Both Momentum Press and Cahuenga Press (which I was a co-founder of along with Cecilia Woloch, Prado, Northup, MacAdams, and Cushing) have their papers at UCSD, too.

The next morning I had to begin work on the final draft of what I was going to say at the “Tribute to Harry Northup,” for S.A. Griffin had specifically asked me to talk longer than five minutes, if that’s what I needed in order to give a proper, formal introduction to Harry, who would speak at the end of the tribute. That event, which had been in the planning stages by Susan Hayden and S.A. Griffin before the pandemic started in 2019, went very well, although technical problems unfortunately prevented Laurel Ann Bogen from being part of it. I myself and S.A. Griffin also had difficulties logging on. I have no idea, however, of what excuse Jim Cushing and Celeste Goyer had for being late and barging into the conclusion of the program; not that I was surprised at Cushing’s rude grandstanding. While he is a very fine poet and has written eloquently as a critic about L.A. poetry, he seems unable to put his personal grievances against me to the side in service of the community.

There are two poets I wish could have been part of this tribute to Harry Northup: Suzanne Lummis and Joe Safide. The former is the editor whose anthologies during the past quarter-century have been assiduous about including Harry Northup’s poetry; Safdie’s essay on ENOUGH THE GREAT RUNNING CHAPEL (Momentum Press, 1982), which appeared in POETRY FLASH forty years ago, should be required reading by anyone who admires Northup’s writing.

Finally, I would like to add my recollection of an instance of Harry Northup’s kindness, which several people spoke of yesterday. In 1983, my car broke down one afternoon when I was in Rowland Heights in the San Gabriel Valley. I was teaching for the California Arts Council, trying to survive on about $7,500 a year take home pay as an “artist in residence” for the CAC. After I had the car towed to a repair show run by an Ethiopian mechanic who proved to be very patient about me paying the repair bill, I called Harry and asked if he could give me a ride home. Without hesitation, he offered to do so, and he then drove out all the way to Rowland Heights and got me home, and then went back home himself. An eighty-mile round trip, done on the spur of the moment, with no hesitation to help out a fellow poet. Perhaps Harry doesn’t even remember this, but such a recollection brings to mind the only lines of Wordsworth’s that have ever truly resonated for me: “That best portion of a good man’s life, / His little, nameless, unremembered acts / of kindness and of love.” It does nothing to diminish what Harry did for me to name it. Thank you again, Harry. I was more desperately sad back then than you might ever have suspected.

No sooner was the Zoom event over than I had to take a quick shower and head over to Page Against the Machine to read with Fred Voss at 6 p.m. This was the fifth time, I believe, that I have given a reading with him as one of the featured poets, and I was more impressed than ever. Fred gave in my opinion the reading of the year: column, funny, poignant, his themes enlivened all who attended, which included several of my former or current students.


Tribute to Harry Northup
Hosted by Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center and Quentin Ring
Organized by Susan Hayden and S.A. Griffin
This event also featured George Drury Smith, the founder of Beyond Baroque, which is turning 55 years old in 2023, Amy Gerstler (who read in a perfectly modulated voice Harry Northup’s “the images we possess kill the capturing”); David Lloyd Glover; Jack Skelley; Amelie Frank; Jeannette Clough; Adam Saroyan; Courteney Bailey; Beth Ruscio; Bob Beitcher; Jennifer Clymer; Corinne Conley; Michael C. Lord; Richard Modiano; Cushing; Goyer; Holiday Mason; Sarah Maclay; Gail Wronsky; and Pam Ward.

Statement by Bill Mohr:
When I was appointed the first poetry editor of Papa Bach Bookstore’s nascent literary magazine in the Fall of 1971, I hustled off to the Wednesday night Beyond Baroque poetry workshop, and encountered a number of poets whose work I selected for the first issue, including the poet-actor Harry E. Northup. When I started attending the workshop on a regular basis, Iquickly discovered that, even among this group of maverick poets, Harry Northup’s voice stood out for its impetuous clarity. “Here,” I remember thinking to myself, “is a poet impatient with any hint of predictability.” Harry went on to appear in my own poetry magazine, Momentum, and to become one of the first poets published by my publishing project, Momentum Press. Along with books by Jim Krusoe, Lee Hickman, Holly Prado, Alicia Ostriker, and Jim Moore, Harry Northup’s Eros Ash and Enough the Great Running Chapel remain emblematic of that period in Los Angeles poetry.

In getting Harry’s writing out into the world. I want to mention someone who was crucial to Harry’s maturation as a poet. Yes, as Harry has often mention, Lee Hickman turned him on to poetry when they were both young actors in New York City, but Hickman also did something in the early 1980s that was beyond astonishing. I had proposed to Harry, when he inquired about publishing one of his manuscripts that we do a large book of his work, but I desperately needed a typesetter even more familiar with Harry’s work than I was. Fortunately, Lee Hickman drove over to Beyond Baroque and in a mere dozen hours typeset almost perfect copy of 200 pages of dense, lyrical poetry. The smallest room on the second floor of Beyond Baroque, where that work was done, remains consecrated in my memory as the place where Harry’s poems initially attained in print culture the visibility they had so long deserved. It is fitting, therefore, that Beyond Baroque has been the host for this event, for the attachment between Harry and L.A.’s oldest literary venue is not just a matter of the affection of his audience and readership; rather, Beyond Baroque has served as an instance of how its facilities have given his words a permanent place in the ongoing legend of a perpetual renaissance on the West Coast of the United States. Today we have gathered together as poets living and working in Los Angeles, but the radical quality of Harry’s poetry should not be limited to some myopic understanding of the so-called “local.”

It should be said that Harry, in particular, is one of the authentic heirs of Jack Spicer’s poetry and poetics. I might well be the only one today who mentions Jack Spicer, but I would be remiss if I did not mention him. Harry’s poems, in Enough the Great Running Chapel, for instance, exemplify Spicer’s proposition that only the poem in series is a transmission worth fully absorbing; and, like Spicer, there is in Northup’s poetry an utter refusal to submit to the blandishments of commodified poetics or the careerism that marks so much contemporary work. The antinomian spirit of American poetry radiates throughout Harry Northup’s work. I myself remain especially fond of sequences such as “I Cut My Mind Open In an Esso Station” or “The Lord Is My Preposition.” Harry has no idea of how often I have thought of his line, “sweetzer and sunst let me out poor sold torn patience.” His is a street-level metaphysics: only Harry Northup knows how to make a poem dolly down the aisle of a bus, tracking the progression of a passenger toward that which most repulses him; and only Harry Northup can turn from that gritty scene and allow us to find succor in his own love for his poet-spouse, Holly Prado.

Finally, in this era where the blurb on the back cover of a book has replaced insightful, extended commentary, it can be a jolt to realize that once upon a time a Los Angeles poet received not just brief notices, but substantial reviews. It was a special thrill for me to hear from Jim Cushing today, for he wrote one of the two best reviews that Harry has ever received, and I wish to thank him for it again.

I think at this point we have waited long enough to hear from the poet himself. I wish he could see us in a room together, giving him a standing ovation.



Post-Script: I’m not quite sure, in retrospect, how so much ended up getting schedule during Rosh Hashanah. Originally, Fred Voss and I were going to read at PATM much closer to Labor Day, but Fred proved not to be available for that date, and so Chris (the proprietor of PATM), and Fred and I chose a date as close to Labor Day as possible, which turned out to be Sept. 16. It was after that reading was set up that I was asked to be part of the tribute to Harry, which I was informed was also going to be on the 16th, at the end of a week in which I was writing a full-length letter of recommendation for a colleague who is applying for a Fulbright award, the deadline being this weekend. Oh, yes, and four days to teaching at CSULB.