Category Archives: Books

Books

The Black Crowned Night Heron of the Archive and the Memoir

December 29, 2022

This past year I worked on an article on William Carlos Williams’s influence on West Coast poets that will appear in the next issue of the William Carlos Williams Review. I am hoping to meet the editor of this special feature issue of the WCW Review, Mark Long, at the MLA convention in San Francisco next week. Long first approached me about the article a year and a half ago, and I demurred, feeling that I wasn’t sure I had enough to say that hadn’t already been commented upon. However, by chance, I had served as an outside reviewer for a book on Harold Norse, and I also had some knowledge of a magazine in Los Angeles that Williams had been in touch with in the late 1940s. It turned out that I had enough to say to make it worth the effort, and I do want to thank Mark Long for his encouragement and knowledge of the subject during the months in which I devoted myself to this topic.

I have also finally begun to get my own literary archive down to the Archive for New Poetry at Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego. In 1996, ANP acquired the archive of Momentum Press, which was a finished part of my life, but my own literary undertakings were very much a work=in-progress. Now, the William Mohr Papers are formally underway; I have delivered almost three dozen boxes and overside items to ANP in the past five months, and I plan on taking another dozen boxes down in mid-January 2023. The items include correspondence, holographs, full-length manuscripts, journals, photographs, rare books and magazines, and reading flyers. One of my favorite reading flyers is this one:

Given the company I keep in the quartet of photographs on the flyer, one would little suspect that it was a low point in my life. I was working 30 hours a week as a typesetter for RADIO & RECORDS, an industry newspaper in Century City. I was barely making enough money to pay rent, buy food and pay back taxes on the job I had had before as an incredibly underpaid artist in residence for the California Arts Council. I had edited and published POETRY LOVES POETRY the year before, however, and had managed to get considerable attention for the five dozen poets I had included. I still regret, however, the absence of several poets in that volume, in particular Scott Wannberg, Manazar Gamboa, and Linda Albertano.

The next ten years I worked as a typesetter would be very difficult ones. On one hand, I would get letters of rejection from the NEA with incredibly sarcastic comments on the poems I submitted for a creative writing fellowship. On the other hand, an editor would write me from a magazine such as Sonora Review and comment in a post-script to an acceptance letter, “I don’t understand why you’re not internationally famous.”

I appreciated the compliment very much, but let’s face it: as much as I had aspired to be a local version of Ferlinghetti or Pound, I was hardly even at the rank that Paul Vangelisti’s achievements had attained. Nevertheless, as I have worked on the portion of my archive concerned with the 1970s, I have thought about the people I knew and the choices I made and I have been working on an archive of those tender, bewildering, and rambunctious years.

Recently, I saw a bird for the first time, and I think of this chance encounter as a symbol of reconciling the relationships I had all those years ago with a warmth and affection I have not always granted myself or others.

May your new year be equally endowed.

Books

Doug Knott — Poet, Actor, Producer — R.I.P.

December 24, 2022

The recent passing of Linda Albertano was a dispiriting moment in the Los Angeles art and poetry world; and the end of the year has brought news of yet another grievous loss. Doug Knott, one of the best poet-actors I have ever encountered, died last night. My understanding is that his wife, Janet, and S.A. Griffin, a long-time collaborator with Doug in the poetry performance group, CARMA BUMS, were at the hospital in his final hours.

I’ve been to many plays over the years and one of the most memorable was a one-man show by Doug Knott, “The Last of the Knott.” It was done in a small theater in Santa Monica and deserved a much larger venue. I am very happy in retrospect that I wrote about it in my blog so that Doug how much I enjoyed it.

As befits a poet who became an important contributor to the development of performance poetry in Los Angeles, Doug had an odd personal trajectory. He started out as a lawyer inn the so-called counter-culture after getting his law degree from Harvard in 1970. In the early 1980s, however, he moved to Los Angeles and started producing poetry readings and other alternative diversions at outlets such as the Lhasa Club. He joined up with Scott Wannberg and S.A. Griffin to become a founding member of the Lost Tribe and Carma Bums and went on a national tour with them.

Many of the comments about Doug have mentioned his book SMALL DOGS BARK CARTOONS and that he had several chapbooks. One of those chapbooks was published by Pat Cohee as part of the Laguna Poets Series. HOLDING PATTERN, which was number 122 in that series, features a photograph of Doug’s mother in a Piper Cub airplane. I would like to quote what Pat Cohee wrote on the back cover: “Each and every poem in this book is pure magic. Doug finds the perfect, uncanny metaphor to evoke the feelings and intuitions which inhabit his “holding pattern.” I challenge any poet to write as well.”

For those who are unfamiliar with Doug’s poems, you can find them in two anthologies: THE OUTLASW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY and GRAND PASSION: THE POETS OF LOS ANGELES AND BEYOND. For an example of his work in video poetry, simply type WINGS THAT WHICH TAKES FLIGHT into your browser.

Thanks to a message from Phil Taggart, I can also share with you two links:

An interview with David Starkey
Creative Community 2.0 – Doug Knott

Doug Knott at the EP Foster Library on March 1, 2018
www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bLL7R4MSqY

On a personal note, my wife Linda just came in and showed me a photograph of our wedding in which a large number of poets gathered at the end of the day to pose with us as an ensemble. Holly Prado, Harry Northup, Brooks and Lea Ann Roddan, Phoebe MacAdams, John Thomas and Philomene Long, and Laurel Ann Bogen and her dear friend, Doug Knott.

The last time that many of us

Books

Part Five of the Interlitq Anthology of California Poets

David Garyan, a poet born, raised, and educated in Los Angeles, has been living in Italy for the past several years and doing more to promote international recognition of West Coast poetry than anyone since Paul Vangelisti and John McBride did INVISIBLE CITY magazine and Red Hill Press in the 1970s. Among other projects, Along with publisher Peter Robertson, Garyan has been editing a multi-part anthology of California poets, the fifth increment of which has just been published in INTERLITQ (International Literary Quarterly).

http://www.interlitq.org/californiafeature5/index.php

The following poets are featured in this latest assemblage: Millicent Borges Accardi, Kim Addonizio, Marjorie R. Becker, Jacqueline Berger, John Brandi, James Cagney, Carol Moldaw, Kosrof Chantikian, Brendan Constantine, James Cushing, Kim Dower, David Garyan, Valentina Gnup, Troy Jollimore, Judy Juanita, Paul Lieber, Rick Lupert, Glenna Luschei, Sarah Maclay, Jim Natal, Judith Pacht, Connie Post, Jeremy Radin, Luis J. Rodriguez, Gary Soto, Cole Swensen, Arthur Sze, Charles Upton, and Scott Wannberg (In Memoriam).

I know the work of about two-thirds of these poets. What makes their adjacency in collection particularly interesting is that it generates an interesting theoretical “game”: which poets would you pair up in a reading series? If I get enough suggestions for a ten week reading series, two poets per week, I will run the imaginary schedules along with my own pairing up. Send your reading rotations to William.BillMohr@gmail.com (William DOT Bill Mohr….)

I hope all is going well for all of my readers. If any of you believe in the power of sending Healing thoughts out into the universe, our fellow poet Doug Knott could certainly use that energy right now. Hang in there, Doug. We need you here in Los Angeles!

Books

Ah-Ha! Just as I Guessed: Dissension between the Striking Workers and the Grad Students Union Leadership

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The news that not every UC graduate student who went on strike is thrilled about the “breakthrough” tentative agreement hardly comes as a surprise to me. As I said in my last post, I was hoping that some graduate students would take a close look at the fine print of the proposed contract and realize that just because their union’s leadership claims that the new contract represents an “historic” moment in the labor done in the education industry, they must accept what they’ve been offered.

I hope that the vote is close enough to send a message to the union’s leadership that next time they had better do a better job negotiating on behalf of those they represent.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-18/dissension-brews-among-striking-uc-graduate-student-union-members-over-tentative-agreement

Dissension brews among striking UC union members over tentative agreement
By Teresa Watanabe. Staff Writer Dec. 18, 2022 5 AM PT

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-18/dissension-brews-among-striking-uc-graduate-student-union-members-over-tentative-agreement

Books

Tentative Agreement between UC and grad students

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16

The L.A. Times and the Long Beach Press-Telegram have reported that the grad students who are striking at the University of California will vote next week on whether to accept a tentative agreement in which they would get less than half of what they were demanding when they went on strike. My guess is that the agreement will be confirmed. I also bet that those who urge the students to accept this agreement won’t point out how inflation by the year 2025 (when the agreement expires) will eat into around 15 percent of these gains. The raise the strike has won is significant, but it would only truly be meaningful if it were tied to the rate of inflation.

The lack of any accountability for inflation in the contract the California Faculty Association agreed to is what makes the contract recently agreed to so disheartening. As I noted back when the CFA held a binding referendum on that “team-friendly” contract, I voted “no,” and one of the reasons is that I knew the professors could have gotten more if we had first demanded arbitration and then voted to strike. The union’s betrayal of those who were planning on retirement in the next three years was especially egregious.

I applaud the grad students for this minor victory, but if they continued the strike and demanded an inflation adjustment clause, I would applaud them ever more fervently.

Onward!

Striking workers reach tentative deal with UC

Books

Glendale Poet Laureate — Now Accepting Applications

Los Angeles County was the first county in the United States to exceed ten million people in population. By comparison, the state of Georgia had an estimated population of 10.8 million in 2021, That state gets two people to represent its interests in the U.S. Senate. L.A. County gets…. no, I don’t want to go there. It’s too painful to consider the disproportionate representation.

It can be said that no one with the so-called qualifications of Herschel Walker would ever get close to 40 percent of the popular vote in Los Angeles if he or she were to run for county-wide elective office. It says a lot about the brand-name loyalty of the GOP in Georgia that Walker could receive over 48 percent of the vote (over 1,700,000 votes). Fortunately, Reverend Warnock received around 100,000 more votes. The election NEVER would have been that close in Los Angeles County.

Georgia turns out to have 159 counties, and by population the city of Glendale, California would rank number 13 in Georgia were it to be considered a county. In other words, being the first poet laureate of the city of Glendale deserves at least as much respect from the entire population of the County of Los Angeles as one would give to a large county in Georgia, but with added context that Glendale has a library and art gallery that any city in the entire state of California would be happy to have available for its residents’ edification. I’m not sure that any cultural center in the 13th largest county in Georgia would be something that even Bakersfield or Hanford would particularly envy.

All of this is a preamble to the announcement by the City of Glendale that it is accepting applications to be its first poet laureate. The job pays $5,000 a year, so it’s obviously a part-time undertaking, but the honor is one worth applying for, should one be a resident of Glendale. If that doesn’t seem like a fair honorarium, by the way, one can always move to a very modestly sized county in Georgia and see how much the local taxpayers are willing to subsidize the art of verse.

The deadline for the post of Glendale’s first poet laureate is January 20th, 2023.

https://www.glendaleca.gov/Home/Components/RFP/RFP/3124/2961

Books

Twitter and the Oath of Office

Monday, December 5, 2022

Donald Trump’s latest example of J.L. Austin’s “speech act theory” showed up on Twitter the other day as a self-fulfilling Q&A:

********
“So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!
10,987 Reposts 30, 444 likes

7:41 a.m. December 4, 2022

************

Trump’s claim of “fraud” is based on Twitter’s refusal in 2020 to condone a misinformation campaign about a laptop owned by President Biden’s son, Hunter.

Debating with someone who is delusional risks succumbing to a fool’s errand, and yet Mr. Trump came perilously close to having his followers succeed in an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States a mere two years ago, so one must address this latest attempt to instigate rebellion.

It is almost infinitely unlikely that Mr. Trump would be able to perceive the contradictions in his statement, but let us humor a madman for a moment. Assuming that over 81,000,000 voters are willing to hand over the White House to someone who only got slightly over 74,000,000 rates, what exactly does Mr. Trump think will be the first thing he will be asked to do? He would be expected to place his hand on a Bible and say, “”I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Of course, maybe he’s planning to revise that oath: “”I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States to the best of my ability.” As in the days of telegram: STOP.

Perhaps Kevin McCarthy should shore up his chances of being elected Speaker of the House by promising to introduce a bill revising the oath of office as his first bit of business? After all, what’s the point of the last ten words of the current oath of office if it has been eviscerated by a man who cannot seem to remember that he himself suppressed information in the 2016 election? Did Donald Trump not have his lawyer convey “hush money” to an actress named Stormy Daniels? What was the point of that “hush money” if not to deceive the electorate? By Trump’s logic, should not an entirely new election have been immediately held, with that knowledge included in the discussion of the public sphere? How likely is it that a “new” election in December, 2016, would have resulted not just in Hillary Clinton once again winning the popular vote, but scoring a massive electoral college victory?

The saddest part of all this reprehensible behavior on the part of Mr. Trump is that there will be a new election in 2024 and that several million people will vote for him in primaries held to determine the final candidates for the office of the President of the United States in a term to begin in 2025. The question of the wording of the oath of office on January 20, 2025 remains up to debate. The “loose ball” theory of speech acts is bouncing higher than ever.

Books

“Pathways to Peace”: Greenly Art Space 12th Anniversary Fundraiser

“PATHWAYS TO PEACE”: December 3 to December 18, 2022

The Greenly Art Space in Signal Hill is holding its 12th anniversary Fundraiser event starting today, December 3 (4pm to 7pm). A portion of the proceeds from the admission fee of $10 will go to towards ameliorating the plight of refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Greenly Art Space is coordinating this effort t with the Seoul-based International Women’s Peace Group. (IWPG).

Full Disclosure: this exhibit includes two paintings by Linda Fry.

If you can’t make the show today, Greenly Art Space will also be open 11am-2pm, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or by appointment by calling 562-533-4020.

This exhibit is supported in part by a grant from the California Arts Council.

GREENLY ART SPACE
2698 Junipero Avenue #113
Signal Hill, CA 90755

562-533-4020

www.GreenlyArtSpace.org

Books

The UC Collision Course with Grad Students

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

I remember a Major League Baseball season where the unthinkable happened: the World Series was cancelled because of a players’ strike.

I believe that final exams are scheduled to start this coming Saturday, December 3, at UC San Diego. Will they be cancelled if the strike is not settled soon? Even if it were settled tonight, what kind of exam could be given that would be fair to students?

My sympathies are with the grad students. I worked as a teaching assistant at UC San Diego between 1997 and 2004. I also graded huge stacks of papers for large sections of other classes, too. Dr. Stephen Potts, who taught a class in adolescent literature on a regular basis, was one of the professors who provided me a way to make a little extra money. I needed that extra money because T.A.s were paid a pittance for the work they did, which was considered 50 percent employment by UCSD, while working as a grader was considered a 25 percent increment in one’s work load. I was supposed to be working on my dissertation as much as possible, but in reality the dissertation took a back seat to work that was very underpaid and always demanding my immediate attention.

I recollect that about twenty years ago the graduate students formed a union and threatened a strike, but a new contract was negotiated before anybody had to walk off the job. I’m glad I wasn’t faced with a choice about crossing picket-lines because I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the leadership of the union and its failure to communicate with rank and file members. It’s hard to feel solidarity when you feel disrespected by your own leadership. There was no sense of anyone in charge of the union being willing to listen to its membership.

Despite my lingering skepticism that anything has changed in the union’s culture, I’m pleased to see that the union is finally holding the chancellor’s feet to the fire. This is week three of the largest academic strike to ever take place in the United States. The California Faculty Association (CFA), the union I used to belong to at CSU Long Beach, could learn a few things about how to improve the economic conditions of its membership. Instead, as I pointed out in a blog post several months ago, the union went for a quick deal and a token raise, which has since been obliterated by inflationary pressures. Essentially, we ended up with a pay cut.

In the meantime, at least, I am somewhat consoled by the knowledge that younger academic workers are not backing down or settling for a token improvement in their conditions.

Onward!

“President Drake, it’s getting late, UC needs to negotiate.”

UAW Strike Enters Third Week: UC Responses, Negotiation Updates, and A.S. Support

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Hundreds-of-striking-UC-student-educators-17617082.php

Books

The “Silver Lining” to the War in the Ukraine

The “Silver Lining” to the War in the Ukraine

I suppose there are situations in which no one benefits, but the horror in the Ukraine is not one of them. One would think by now that the James Bond film franchise would have reached its limits of enduring popularity, but Bond appears to be on a roll that will exceed even the longevity of The Rolling Stones.

Come to think of it, that might be a potential in-joke down the line. Whoever the next Bond is finds himself (or herself — “Bond. Jessica Bond.”) stalking a villain who has purchased choice aisle seats near the front row to enjoy the umpteenth live performance of “Sympathy for the Devil.” As Bond works his way through the crowd, as the culmination of yet another spectacular chase scene, the audience includes quarter-second glimpses of all the living actors who have played Bond enjoying the show.

In any case, both the novels of John LeCarre and the James Bond franchise will benefit from Vladimir Putin’s nefarious endeavors in the Ukraine, which hasn’t exactly gone according to plan in the past nine months.

Hollywood’s facsimile empire aside, the war between Russia and Ukraine is a catastrophic policy decision on Putin’s part. There is no chance of long-term domination of Ukraine as a subjected country in a new Cold War. Nevertheless, Putin will fight on, even as a certain Tsar refused to concede during the Russo-Hapanse war of 1904-1905. Putin may manage to regroup during the coming winter and even gain the upper hand in Ukraine, but what Europe and the United States, and China, too, have learned about Russia’s military capacities will profoundly affect the next quarter century of global power struggles.

The Ukraine War is merely the opening act of a massive “skirmish” over nascent polar naval routes as the North Pole’s ice cap shrinks. Bond has never had an “adventure” at the “top” of the world. Get your parkas out before you head to the movie theater. It will be a chilly evening out.