Category Archives: Books


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


(Free) Art, Dance, and Poetry Festival in West Hollywood: “Ladies of Courage”

Feeling cooped up by so much rain? — Months and months of it, in fact!
Then rinse it out with a weekend of sunshine and visual art, dance, music, and poetry!!!

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:

Co-Sponsored by the City of West Hollywood

Terry Wolverton, William Mohr, Gail Wronsky, Molly Bendall, Karen Kevorkian, Tom Laichas, Elena Karina Byrne, James Cushing, Kim Dower, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Tanya Ko Hong, Angela Peñaredondo, Lynne Thompson, Mike Sonksen, Laurel Ann Bogen, Hanna Pachman


Ladies of Courage performance highlights will include musicians Lady Zhe, Nathalie, Joy Orleans, and Steve Roach.

Dance companies:
Maura Townsend Dance Project and Caron Eule’s Euledance.

Projections on building walls will include works by Audri Phillips, Evan Weitzberg, and J-Walt Adamczyk.


“A major motivation for creating the Ladies of Courage festival is that the history of the world to a large extent has always been defined by the deeds of men and framed by wars. The contributions of women have been short changed. I wanted to do something to help correct that oversight and honor the courage and deeds of women. Women role models help young girls believe in themselves, show them what is possible, while helping young boys see women as equals. This is especially needed in these times when the rights of women are being so heavily encroached upon.”


Additional details and the complete list of performers and producers are available on and on Instagram via @ladies.of.courage. The Ladies of Courage festival is inclusive of all genders and diversity of people, as only with equality for all can there be true freedom.

About Audri Phillips, Eye Poet

Audri Phillips is an award-winning multi-media visual poet/artist with 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles directing, producing and creating content and 3-D animations for films, music videos, dance performances, meta verse projects, full dome shows, VR, NFTs and location based interactive immersive performances. Currently directing Robot Prayers, and acting as leading visionary and Founder of Ladies of Courage, Audri is grateful to the staff of the City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board for supporting the festival for March, Women’s History Month, and hopes to see you under a Poet Tree soon.


Brecht’s Critique of”Don’t Say We Didn’t Tell You So” (Elizabeth Warren’s Rebuke of the Latest Bailout)

Monday, March 13, 2023

It’s such a great feeling to watch a system falling over itself as it props up its “wealth management” portfolios. Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), which was the 16th largest bank in the entire country a week ago, seemed to have been doing quite well over the past three years. According to Elizabeth Warren, SVB’s profits rose over 40 percent since the start of this decade and its leadership was proportionately rewarded: Mr. Greg Becker, who has been the CEO of SVB since April, 2011, was paid $9.9 million last year, including a $1.5 million bonus for boosting bank profitability. At this point, I think it’s fair for the general public to have a look at his tax returns for the past ten years, not to mention a list of those political candidates whose election campaigns he has contributed to.

Not that something like this comes as any surprise to those of us who are familiar with how capitalism has set up its race track. By all means no good deed goes unpunished, and that includes how the “good deed” of the bank bailout of 2007-2008 comes full circle. For those who want the specific, pertinent detail, suffice it to say that SVB was at the trough when the “Troubled Asset Relief Program” (TARP) was taking care of the well-off. TARP provided an “investment” of $235 million to SVB to get things up and running again. This past week’s intervention by the government shows that when it comes to protecting the wealthy, there’s no hesitation about rewarding those who didn’t learn their lesson the first time.

“What is the crime of robbing a bank compared to that of founding one?” — “The Threepenny Opera” by Brecht and Weill

Perhaps that famous line should be amended:
“What is the crime of robbing a bank compared to that of bailing out one?”

Meanwhile, Governor Newsom of California refused last year to support an additional one percent raise for CSU faculty, even as inflation was running at triple the rate of the increase the CSU’s union had foolishly consented to.

Hey, you want to know what cuased the latest bank failure? — There you have it! It was those greedy college professors who caused this bank run. If they had accepted the zero percent raise that the chancellors on CSU’s Board of Trustees had offered back when negotiations on a new contract started, no doubt none of the problems that afflicted SVB would ever have happened. Shame on you, CSU professors.


Screening Now: An Alphabetical List of Several Dozen Films

One often finds lists of the “essential” films, the most important films, the Top 100, etc. Sometimes the rankings will take you from the bottom of the list to the top (100, 99, 98…..4, 3, 2, 1); others lists make you wonder how film number 88 could deserve to be so far away from the top 10.

I have set aside any estimate of the film’s comparative worth to other films other than to insist that the following films should be viewed by anyone who wants to have an understanding of how cinema has: a) shaped the social imaginary; and (b) had its reproductions of social life mutated by ideological imperatives far removed from the ticket booth window. My recommendation is that any young person just beginning to learn about cinema should watch the following films in alphabetical order. The advantage is that will be forced to shift one’s intellectual and emotional moodalities to fit the film’s temperamental poetics.

One will note a much larger percentage of comedies in this list than is usually featured. These kinds of lists all too often attempt to establish their cultural gravitas by invoking the most solemn aspects of human awareness. In canonical assessments, laughter is regarded as self-indulgence. I have further pushed against the expectations of this kind of listing by including films that are “pop” culture fare. In doing so, sI remember a book by Anthony Burgess in which he didn’t hesitate to include Ian Fleming as among the authors that he would include in a top 100 novelists survey.

I like to think that the late Elmore Leonard would enjoy reading my list, even if he would not be willing to sit through all, or even most of, these films. No doubt he would wonder why “Seven Samurai” isn’t on the list. The default list that shadows mine should be fairly obvious to anyone who knows cinema as well as I know poetry. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of cinema or even to possess more than an amateur appreciation of this art form. I can already hear the hoots of disdain for many of my choices. All the better! You are indeed entitled to jeer if you, in turn, can finish reading the list and then immediately provide me — without consulting any books or referring to any other lists — with the titles of three films as different as “Little Fugitive”; “Mare’s Tale”; and “Freeze, Die, Come to Life.” The three films must come from three different decades. If you can do that, then send me your list and I will post it in my blog. I reserve the right to post a list, even if you can’t meet that criteria, so send along your choices.



Aguirre, The Wrath of God

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Apollo 13

Au Hasard Balthasar

Bad Sleep Well, The

Battle of Algiers, The

Bed, The (1968; James Broughton)

Being John Malkovich

Belle et La Bete, La

Best Years of Our Lives, The

Bicycle Thieves


Black Panther

Black Stallion, The


Blazing Saddles

Blue (1993; directed and written by Derek Jarman)

Blue Angel, The

Burmese Harp, The

Casino Royale (remake, with Daniel Craig)

Children of Paradise

Citizen Kane


Dark Crystal, The

Defending Your Life

Dîner de Cons, Le (Dinner Game, The)

Do the Right Thing

Don’t Look Now

Don’t Look Up

Dr. Strangelove

Escape from Alcatraz


Field of Dreams

Fish Named Wanda, A


French Connection, The

Freeze, Die, Come to Life

Get Out!

Godfather, The (Part One)

Godfather, The (Part Two)

Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, The

High Noon


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the first version)

Jules and Jim

Killer of Sheep

King of Masks

L.A. Confidential

La Dolce Vita

L’ATALANTE (Jean Vigo, who also directed Zero du Conduit)

Little Fugitive


Man in the Moon, The

Man with a Movie Camera

Mare’s Tale

Midnight Cowboy

Mighty Aphrodite


My Life as a Dog




Nine to Five

Onion Field, The

Only the Lonely

Open City

Over the Edge

Pee-Wee’s Great Adventure

Passion of Joan of Arc, The


Player, The


Salt of the Earth

Seance on a Wet Afternoon


Sleepless in Seattle

Some Like It Hot

Sopranos, The

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring

Station Agent, The

Straight Outta Compton

Sullivan’s Travels


Sunset Blvd.

Taxi Driver

Terminator, Part I

Terminator, Part 2

Truman Show, The

Usual Suspects, The


Wizard of Oz



Kevin Opstedal sent me the titles of some films to add to this list this morning, and I am wasting no time in doing so. Thank you, Kevin. “Repo Man” was a title I thought of adding shorting after I posted the list, and I heartily second his nomination. In Kevin’s iteration, he suggests watching them as trilogies.

Three films/Two sets (nominated by Kevin Opstedal)
Cisco Pike (1972)
The Wages of Fear (1953)
Down By Law (1986)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Repo Man (1984)
The Killing (1956)


Taryn Boyle nominated:

Tampopo – Juzo Itami
Cria Cuervos – Carlos Saura
The Mirror – Tarkovsky
Our Little Sister – Hirokazu Kore-eda
Léon: The Professional – Luc Besson


John Macrae III, NYC Publisher (1931-2023)

John Macrae III worked for almost a half-century in NYC as a publisher, first at E.P. Dutton, and then at Henry Holt. Macrae came from a family that had not only accumulated capital but had regarded itself as a major generator of cultural capital. As the numeral after his name indicates, his grandfather and father had dynastic ambitions, and John III left an imprint on NYC publishing in both a literal and artist sense.

It’s hard of rme not to think of Macrae as someone who represented the NYC publishing establishment that the small presses on the West Coast in the 1970s were hoping to undermine. Yet he was far more than a conventional member of the ruling class whose education at Harvard betokened a life of privilege that I could not imagine, even if I were to indulge in stupendous fantasy. Macrae was far more adventurous as a person than as a publisher, and it is for his willingness to speak up for those who took enormous risks in challenging dictatorial authority. Is there anyone working for a major company in NYC right now who takes the kinds of chances he did? Not that I know of.

Publishers don’t merely empower authors; they themselves are authors of the books they bring into the world. Verily, verily, I say unto thee that “the author is dead” might well have convinced some people with its blunt assassination. No one, however, ever said “the publisher is dead,” for quite good reasons. Macrae’s life is a perfect example of why no one dared to hint at the collapse of the role of the literary imprint, even as ever larger corporations enveloped a company such as E.P. Dutton.


Audri Phillips and the “Ladies of Courage” Project in West Hollywood

A couple months ago, I got a phone call from an artist I’ve known for over 30 years. I can easily verify that we first met before `1993 because that was the year that VEHEMENCE, my spoken word CD, was released by New Alliance Records. Audri did the cover art for it without asking for any payment. She also produced art for a subsequent collection of recordings that New Alliance never released.

I’m not sure what the exact occasion might have been at which we first met, but I was the guest poet in an artist critique group that visited each other’s studios back in the early 1990s. Audri is still working as an artist and as an organizer. Her latest project is “LADIES OF COURAGE,” which will be a weekend of visual artists and poetry at a park in West Hollywood. It will take place on Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and March 26.

Although the West Hollywood cultural affairs department has given her a grant of %5,000 to help produce this event, all of that money has been channeled back to the city in terms of permits and infrastructure.

Instagram is: ladies.of.courage (no dot at the end just around the of)
The Go Fund Me link:
Facebook location for Ladies of Courage


March 25-March 26
West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood, California.

Mapping buildings and walls has become in recent decades a very exciting and inspiring art form. The works that are projected will be only limited by the creativity and imagination of the artists involved. Some pieces will provide interactivity with the audience. One wall will be dedicated to a projection of names of ladies of courage. Several buildings that rim the park have walls facing into the park, The Abbey Restaurant and Night Club and the Ariana Rug Company. From Sunset until 10 pm each night there will be animations and videos projected onto these walls. There will be original music and dance.


Seven large beautiful well spaced trees in the park will be designated by banners and given the name of a lady of courage. During the daytime hours from 2pm until sunset on each day we will schedule poets and musicians to perform original works under the seven trees. A dance performance will also be scheduled. Attendees will be given a map of the tree locations and schedule of performances so they can wander freely from tree to tree. Our largest seven sponsors will be invited to each sponsor a tree.

About Audri Phillips
Audri Phillips is a visual poet, immersive media specialist, 3D animator based in Los Angeles. Starting out as an oil painter, she was quickly drawn to time based art and computer animation. She is a pioneer in using computer animation/art in experimental film work, exhibiting both her paintings and films. A resident artist of Vortex Immersion and c3:Center for Conscious Creativity for the past 6 years she has been creating interactive performances with dance companies and musicians as well as works and performances for fulldome theaters, which have been shown in festivals worldwide. In the past several years she has taken her talents into the creation of VR/AR with the understanding of how 180 and 360 work and play together. She leads the Abstract Media Workshop and the Hybrid Reality Workshop in Los Angeles as well as writing online articles for Intel. She learned many of her animation and technical skills working in the visual effects/entertainment industry in Los Angeles CA. for over 20 years.

The poets who will be reading include:
Molly Bendall
Michelle Bitting
Laurel Ann Bogen
Shonda Buchanan
Elena Karina Byrne
Ramney Campbell
Brendan Constantine
James Cushing
Amy Davis
Kim Dower
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Amelie Frank
Kate Gale
Tanya Ko Hong
James Jones
Traci Kato-Kiriyama
Karen Kevorkian
Tom Laichas
Suzanne Lummis
Sarah Maclay
Holaday Mason
Bill Mohr
Leslie Monsour
Carol Muske-Dukes
Phoebe MacAdams Ozuna
Alicia Portnoy
Beth Ruscio
Andres Sanchez
Brian Sonia-Wallace
Mike Sonksen
Susan Suntree
Lynne Thompson
Jimmy Vega
Pam Ward
Jessica Wilson
Terry Wolvertov
Gail Wronsky


Patty Seyburn – “Ode to the Santa Ana Winds”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Back in the winter of 2006, I applied for a tenure-track teaching job at CSU Long Beach, which was conducting a search for creative writers to replace Gerald Locklin and Elliot Fried, both of whom had started teaching only part-time after decades of work in the academic trenches. The school ended up hiring three one fiction writer, Lisa Glatt, and two poets, myself and Patty Seyburn. I was familiar with Lisa’s work, since she had been published in PEARL magazine, but I was not at all familiar with Patty’s work, nor was she acquainted with mine. Over the years I have gotten to know her work and appreciate the way she can take a topic that has a public presence and write a poem that does not yield to gratuitous sentiment even as it flaunts its accessibility. Today, the L.A. Times ran one of her poems in the Opinion section, and even though it is not a “typical” poem of hers (though it would be hard to say what is “typical” of her poetry), I still savor how her leap toward the metaphorical apposition of “frenzied bacchanal” stamps this homage as having been filtered by none other than her sensibility. Her writing often imbibes of what might be categorized as feminist devotional, and there is a through-line between her work and Anne Bradstreet that deserves critical attention. On the other hand, would a reader be mistaken in comparing her deftness as a poet with someone such as Howard Nemerov, whose book SENTENCES I was reading just yesterday? Seyburn’s poems always keep me slightly off-balance, and if you enjoy that sensation as much as I do, rest assured that a search in your browser will quickly yield many more links to her poems.


“Dizzy on Vinyl” with PLASTIC HORSESHOES at Vine on Fourth — Closing show, tonight!

Punk music and performance art were fellow travelers in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Los Angeles; among the most prominent of the artists who integrated the poetics of each genre was Johanna Went, whose extraordinary performance at Beyond Baroque I was lucky enough to catch back then. The most recent example of the intermingling of punk and performance art has been taking place at a bar in Long Beach, California called Vine. The proprietor of a record store, “Dizzy on Vinyl,” less than a mile away from that bar, has been leading a band of musicians called PLASTIC HORSESHOES in a raucous celebration every Tuesday night in January, starting at 9 p.m. and ending promptly at 10. Tonight, January 31, is the final performance.

I caught last Tuesday’s show, which included several costume changes by Dizzy in the course of “unhitching his trailer” and unpacking his suitcase: “This is not mine. This is not mine.” This show was not the first time I had seen Dizzy perform, as he had presented a version of it in the small side-room of his record store late last year; but the bar’s full length was made use of during the course of the show, with Dizzy twirling his suitcase in a perpetual wind-up motion like a clock recording, absorbing, and discharging simultaneously perfect time of all 24 hours. No doubt, on several continents on this planet, a couple thousand other musicians were equally embedded in their grooves that night; but for those fortunate enough to be in the presence of a relentless artist in Long Beach last Tuesday, there was no other place they’d want to be.

Vine 2142 E. Fourth LB 90814
Dizzy on Vinyl 3004 E. 7th 90804


Tom Verlaine (1949-2023); Patrick McKinnon (1957-2021)

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Tom Verlaine (1949-2023)

I was driving north on Cherry Avenue in Long Beach yesterday afternoon listening to music on KCRW’s late afternoon show when an announcement was made at the start of a new set of songs: “We learned about an hour ago that Tom Verlaine of the band Television died today.” And they played one of Television’s songs in his honor.

Much of the commentary on Verlaine emphasizes that his music was not easy to categorize. Indeed, the contumacious deviancy from the strictures of commodified composition that marks Verlaine’s work is precisely what so many young musicians find inspiriting about his legacy. Of course, it came with the usual price tag, which Verlaine once summed up in a response to a reporter’s request for a description of his artistic life: “struggling not to have a professional career.” But if influential fame was the only major compensation that Verlaine attained in a half-century of relentless effort, it came with the intimate friendship of other artists. The percentage of people who get to collaborate with their equals is very small. Any other career marks the amateur, and to that extent Verlaine was a consummate professional.


Patrick McKinnon (1957-2021)

If most young writers and artists head to a “big city” in order to be part of the formation of a scene that will at least partially contextualize their projects, there are always a handful wo will move in the opposite direction.

I passed through Duluth, Minnesota once in the mid-1980s. My first wife, Cathay, and I had visited her father and her siblings in Bismarck, North Dakota and then driven up into Canada and headed back to Minneapolis-St. Paul to catch a flight back home to L.A. There was something about Duluth’s “vibe” that was different than I expected, and I remembered thinking how it would be the kind of town I would pick to move to if I were ever in a witness protection program.

Patrick McKinnon’s bio on the back of his full-length collection, CHERRY FERRIS WHEELS (1990), says that he moved to Duluth in the late 1970s in order to get away from the increasingly dense population of California. McKinnon became known not just as a poet, but also as an editor of POETRY MOTEL, one of the unflinchingly underground magazines to emerge in the last century. McKinnon himself had hundreds of poems published in dozens of magazines. It is dismaying to realize how little attention has been given to CHERRY FERRIS WHEELS since its publication over 30 years ago. This collection of poems is easily one of the 500 best books of American poetry published in the past century. It might even be in the top 200 books.

McKinnon was born in 1957 in San Francisco and died in Duluth in 2021, age 64. I missed the announcement of his passing when it happened, but having very recently learned of it, don’t want to neglect acknowledging his accomplishments as a poet and editor. For those who want to read a tribute that is equally enthusiastic about his work, here’s the link:


Paul Vangelisti’s Exile

Thomas Mann book