Category Archives: Poetry Readings

“Route 66 through the Eyes of Poets”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tomorrow evening, seven Los Angeles poets will gather at the West Hollywood library for a follow-up reading to last year’s “Sunset Blvd. through the Eyes of Poets.” Sticking with a vehicular trope, Kim Dower selected Route 66, the subject of a famous song that has been reworked quite often over the years by a variety of musicians and bands.

The event is free, and starts at 7 p.m. Each poet will read for seven minutes.
The reading will feature Laurel Ann Bogen, Elena Karina Byrne, Brendan Constantine, Yvonne Estrada, Bill Mohr, Lynne Thompson, and the poet laureate of West Hollywood, Kim Dower.

625 N. San Vicente Blvd.
Wednesday, April 25

I will reading a poem that was published in Rob Cohen’s fine magazine of the 1990s, Caffeine, in addition to debuting a new poem, “The One Exception,” that I finished revising a few weeks ago. It’s the first “stand up” poem I’ve written in some time, and I’m looking forward to reading it very much.

Debacle at Beyond Baroque

The Debacle at Beyond Baroque on Saturday, April 21st


Santa Barbara poet and former punk rock singer, Matt Mauldin, will read from his debut, Patterns of Reconciliation – poetry with personal, social & spiritual themes. Kerry Tepperman Campbell is an award winning author and educator based in the San Francisco area. She is the recipient of the 2017 Blue Light Award, and the 2016 New Millennium Poetry Prize. Don Kingfisher Campbell is the founder of POETRY people youth writing workshops, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, leader of the Emerging Urban Poets writing and Wednesday Afternoon Critique workshops, and host of Monday Night Poetry in Pasadena, California. Regular admission. Members $2.00.


I first attended the Wednesday night workshop at Beyond Baroque in the Fall of 1971, and published some of the poets I heard there in the first issue of Bachy magazine (Summer, 1972). In the years since, I have attended a considerable number of events at Beyond Baroque. Many of them have been memorable occasions that illustrate why the literary community has continued to support this institution. There have also been more than a few occasions on which Beyond Baroque has had to endure preventable stains on its reputation.

On Saturday, April 21st, for instance, the programming was an exceptionally inept arrangement: a very fine poet, Kerry Tepperman Campbell, was scheduled with two poets who had no business whatsoever reading at Beyond Baroque on a Friday or Saturday night featured spot. Tepperman’s book of prose poems is one of the best debut volumes I have ever read. The book is on my list of one of the 1000 best books in my personal library. She deserved nothing less than being scheduled with someone in this area with the stature of Holly Prado. It is not too much to ask that that programming at Beyond Baroque put together poets whose poetics can engage in a meaningful dialogue.

Kerry Tepperman Campbell read first on Saturday, April 21, and she hit her mark: 20 minutes. Then Mr. Don Kingfisher Campbell gets up, and reads for at least 15 minutes AND THEN introduces two poets who proceed to read for at least five minutes each. What the hell is going on here? A mediocre poet brings along two people as his “audience” (and virtually no one else was in the audience but friends and supporters of Kerry’s writing) and these two people are suddenly allowed to impose their imaginations on the audience??? But the worst was yet to come: Matt Mauldin, whose name was the first on the calendar’s bill for the evening, got up and read poetry that made Don Campbell’s work look like prize-winning efforts. Make no mistake about the complicity of Mauldin and Don Campbell in executing a hostile takeover of Kerry’s debut in Los Angeles. Don Campbell has posted photographs of his cohorts on Facebook as “featured” readers at BB.

I have been told that Mr. Mauldin lied in order to get his slot on that evening’s program. That may well be, but it doesn’t take away the incredibly bad taste I have in my mouth. Even if Mauldin had not been booked, and it had only included D.K. Campbell and his cohort, the programming demeaned Kerry Campbell’s writing and her devotion to her art. I spend very little time on this blog in dismissals of other poets’ work. There is so much good work that deserves praise, and I would rather give my energy to that writing. However, when one has had to endure listening to work that has earned no right to my attention, but is only worthy of being presented in an open mike format, then I intend to speak up. Mr. Campbell may not appreciate having his writing dismissed in this manner, but he needs a serious reality check about his talent. In fact, I would advise his friend who read a poem about working in an animal shelter to part ways with Mr. Campbell and have more confidence in his own potential. While that particular poem still needed more work, it showed a sufficient touch of poignant insight to deserve encouragement.

By the way, could somebody PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE proofread the Beyond Baroque calendar a bit better. Time after time, it has egregious errors. In the bold listing of names for the evening in question, notice the following:


When you can’t get someone’s name right, well….. Surely a minimal effort at proofreading would yield the realization that the dropping of Kerry’s last name and the use of the ampersand more than hint that there is a personal relationship between them. But apparently someone doesn’t care very much about big details or small details.

As an additional report, I have received Cecilia Moloch’s permission to post her commentary on the travesty of Saturday’s event.

DATELINE: Los Angeles
Sunday, April 22, 2018

Cecilia Woloch reporting:

So this is what went down last night at Beyond Baroque — a scam that everyone in the L.A. poetry community should know about — and here are the perpetrators of that scam: Matt Mauldin and Don Kingfisher Campbell. A Bay Area poet named Kerry Tepperman Campbell, whose beautiful book, Dreaming of France, was awarded The Blue Light Press Award and published by Blue Light this spring, had been scheduled to read.

Kerry had worked for years on this beautifully-crafted collection of interwoven prose-poems. Bill Mohr and I had both advised her on the manuscript and, when she’d asked for our advice about a venue for an L.A. reading, we’d both suggested Beyond Baroque.

Here’s what happened: a guy named Matt Mauldin, who calls himself a poet, had seen Kerry’s name listed on the Beyond Baroque calendar without a co-feature. He contacted Richard Modiano and lied, saying that he was an “up-and-coming young poet” and Kerry wanted him on the program as the featured reader. Richard, apparently, trusted this guy — a serious error in judgement, I’d say. When this Matt Mauldin asked Richard if Don Campbell could also be on the program — presenting this to Richard as something Kerry, the scheduled reader, endorsed — Richard acquiesced and said, “For 10 minutes.”

Of course, Kerry Tepperman Campbell had never heard of any of these guys, and just figured Beyond Baroque had scheduled her to read with other writers launching new books.

So, last night, after Kerry got up and read her beautiful work for 15 minutes, Don Kingfisher Campbell got up with two friends and the three of them proceeded to take 25 minutes of the program’s time to subject the audience — virtually all of whom had come to hear Kerry — to what amounted to mostly babble. And then, this Matt Mauldin got up and subjected the audience to something even worse. I was mortified for Beyond Baroque and for the L.A. poetry community. Kerry’s friends in the audience included at least one highly-successful novelist and a well-regarded working actor. It makes me shudder to think of what these people took away from the evening in terms of an impression about “L.A. poetry.”

But the quality of the “poetry” isn’t the worst part of this — although Matt Mauldin and Don Campbell have to know that they’d have never been given a spot to read at Beyond Baroque on the basis of the kind of work they presented last night. What’s outrageous and disgraceful is how they used deception and outright lies to get themselves on the program, essentially hi-jacking the reading of a legitimate author and hi-jacking her audience — all of us fuming and wondering what in the hell had happened.

After the reading, several of us went to ask Richard Modiano why the evening had been programmed this way, and that’s when the whole thing unraveled. Richard was as flummoxed, at first, as we were, and initially said, “But this Matt Mauldin guy told me I had to book him in order to get Kerry to come, that he was part of the package.” Yes, Richard should have done some homework, but who’d have expected that anyone who calls himself a poet would try to pull off something like this?

Richard then consulted the chain of emails he’d exchanged with Matt Mauldin and confirmed that this guy had inserted himself onto the program with a ruse. “I got scammed,” Richard said.

And when I confronted Matt Mauldin, he tried to lie his way out of the whole thing, thinking I didn’t know who was involved. He said, “I asked if I could put Don Campbell on the bill because he’d gotten me a reading in Pasadena.” So this is how they’re working it. Good lord, what will these guys try to pull next, and where?

So, last night Don Kingfisher Campbell and Matt Mauldin effectively hi-jacked someone else’s reading and her audience. It’s embarrassing and disgraceful. Richard told me that Matt Mauldin has now been banned from Beyond Baroque, but I’m not sure that’s enough to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. It’s a stain on Beyond Baroque’s reputation as a place where poetry is respected and honored.

— Cecilia Woloch

The Jackson Wheeler Poetry Reading Report

Friday, March 30, 2018

French Concrete One

Linda and I drove up to the Carnegie Arr Museum in Oxnard, California this past weekend for the reading with Vincent Mowry, a poet from Ojai who deserves to be much better known. The plan for the return trip was to stop by Linda’s sister house and relieve her of her care for Linda’s mother for a couple of days.

The reading went better than I ever could have expected. Almost 40 people showed up, which is over two dozen more than usually show up for readings in Los Angeles. I was especially grateful that several poets I knew as a youth showed up: Ricardo Means-Ybarra, Florence Weinberger, ellen, as well as their painter friend, Annie. The reading started with some earnest, intriguing work by a young poet, Sarah Krashefski, and then Marsha de la O introduced me with some very kind remarks.

I led off with “Big Band, Slow Dance,” and followed with “Why the Heart Does Not Develop Cancer”; I then read “The Eviction,” “Wrinkles,” “In the Ocean of Nothingness,” an untitled haiku that was recently published in Hummingbird, and a large section of “Scorpio in Transit,” which appeared in KYSO.

Vincent Mowry read several very fine poems, including one exquite poem that almost eerily served as a parallel vision to one of the poems I had read in the first half of the reading. I have almost never been combined with another poet in a reading whose work I don’t know ahead of time and found that we had much in common; somehow, though, it turned out that Vincent’s poetry had more in common with mine that either of us could ever have expected. His poem about a dream of swimming in the ocean took on the bleakness of Dickinson’s “without even a report of land / To justify despair” and broke through to another realm of vision, closer to that occasion she describes as being a vision of “morning’s nest.” Mowry’s poem about that vision was one of the best I have heard in recent years.

After the reading, neither Vincent nor I had any books for sale, so we mingled with the audience. The museum, though, made copies of Was I Asleep: New and Selected Poems by Jackson Wheeler available for purchase. The reading series is named in his honor, and he deserves it. Marsha read an extraordinary poem that Wheeler wrote about a visitation by his dead father, a World War II veteran, to his bedroom the night before leaving his Appalachian hometown. It’s as deeply moving and poignant as anything in Winesburg, Ohio. In other words, a classic poem. I have been reading Wheeler’s book since I returned, and certainly hope to review it by this summer.

By chance, in Oxnard the next morning, we happened to meet one of Linda’s oldest friend, Vicki, who was having breakfast with her companion, who turned out to a manager for a concrete delivery company. I told him that I had always liked those trucks and like many very young boys thought about driving one of them when I grew up. I mentioned to him that such a truck had recently been in my neighborhood to pour concrete for a roundabout at the intersection where we live, and I had taken photographs of its massive cylinder. When I showed him the photographs, he said, “That’s my company,” which turns out to be owned by a French family. In fact, he explained, the three dots inside the triangle represent the three generations of the family’s commitment to the company.

As Darwin pointed out, the success of any individual in an evolutionary scheme can be gauged by whether its offspring have offspring. It’s as true in poetry as it is in concrete. Here is to the names of the poets I have invoked in my lifetime of work being written in concrete along with their solemnly joyful affirmations of our shared journey.

Once again, thanks to Marsha and Phil for being kind enough to include me in this series.

French Concrete Two

Alexis Rhone Fancher on Margaret Tynes Fairley’s Poetry

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Don’t let the civility of a bygone century deceive you. Upon first reading, these poems to nature, gathered by season, highlight the surface transparency of Margaret Tynes Fairley’s work. All are beautifully crafted gems. All celebrate nature in her capricious glory. Yet on closer examination, each of these complex, exquisite poems contains facets somewhat off; the natural world, its order gone slightly awry. The human enters the equation, sometimes with joy, but often with heartbreak. Underneath the natural order: disorder. Even chaos. ‘The dark conspiracy of spruce.’ And below that, ‘a hint of insurrection;’ below that, a knowing calm. The earth’s pull, a centering, as the years swirl around the recurrent themes of birth, death, and renewal. Fairley, ‘dressed in motley,’ ‘playing the fool,’ delves into a nature so profound that it takes on and explores a chameleon persona – lover, sister, protector, and yes, beloved mother.

“Margaret Tynes Fairley transcends the centuries with poems lyrical yet terse and biting enough to satisfy the 21st century sensibilities in each of us.”

– Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, poetry editor, Cultural Weekly

Both Alexis and I drove up from the South Bay area to Beyond Baroque this past Sunday to celebrate the publication of Fairley’s collection poems, The Years Wear the Seasons, by Bambaz Press. Alexis drove from San Pedro with the smoothest flow of traffic that one could hope for; and Linda and I were equally fortunate. All three of us were exceptionally impressed by the passionate renditions of Fairley’s poems by her granddaughter, Rose, who works as a nurse in North Carolina.

I was also pleased to meet Matthew Hetznecker, who had a book entitled A.S. for sale, which was published four years ago. I have just begun to read its quartet of short prose installations: “Loose Ends”; “Ties That Bind”; “Laced”; “Knots.” The titles seem reticent to admit the subtle rambunctiousness of Hetznecker’s notations. His writing reminds me of the kind of work that George Drury Smith was seeking — and having a hard time finding — when he started his literary magazine, Beyond Baroque, a half century ago. Sometimes one must wait a long time for the right antecedent to show up.

Beyond Baroque Celebrates the Deep State of the Beat Mind

Sunday, March 4, 2018

BEYOND BEAT at BEYOND BAROQUE: “It’s not a generation. It’s a state of mind.” — Diane Di Prima

I drove up to Venice yesterday afternoon to attend George Drury Smith’s talk about his life before he founded Beyond Baroque in 1968. There was also a meeting of a half-dozen members of the Board of Trustees to discuss a major event in November. When I walked into the main lobby, the first thing I saw was a flyer for this coming week’s celebration of Beat inspired poetry, music, and art. Organized by S.A. Griffin, who was one of the editors of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, “Beyond Beat” is a five-day crash course in a literary movement that is well over 60 years old. Contrary to the claims of the Language and post-avant poets, Beat poetics is still an active principle in contemporary American poetry and therefore constitutes the eldest surviving movement of literate consciousness in the United States.

The entire program can be found at:

“Beyond Beat” starts on Thursday, March 8 and runs through Monday, March 12th. Poets, performers, and presenters include Frank T. Rios, Will Alexander, Phoebe MacAdams, Paul Vangelisti, Brian Chidester, David Amran, Linda J. Albertao, Jack Brewer, Eve Brandstein, Pegarty Long, Laurel Ann Bogen, Rich Ferguson, Lorraine Perrotta, Michael C. Ford, Marc Olmsted, Gayle Davis, Joseph Patton, and Neeli Cherkovski.

I will be giving a talk on Venice West on Saturday, March 10, at 1:00 p.m. and moderating a panel from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Beyond Baroque
681 Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Beyond Beat: March 8 – 12, 2018
Organized by S.A. Griffin

“Enter Here” — Alexis Rhone Fancher (KYSO Flash; 2017)

Sunday, September 10, 2017 (Sunday)

One can become so accustomed to the title of a book referring to the lead poem in the collection that when one has read around in the book and still not found the title, even as a phrase in a poem, the words begin to echo behind each line: first lines, last lines, and every line between. The title of Alexis Rhone Fancher’s recently published collection of poems began to emit that hypnotic shimmer as I read twenty or so poems at random in my first perusal. “Enter Here” is not an unfamiliar imperative, and yet within the domain of imaginative consciousness illuminated by erotic impulses, the book’s presence in one’s hands has an almost premonitory intimacy: “who touches this book touches a woman’s imagination.”

Readers fortunate enough to have started with Fancher’s How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen will happily breathe in the pheromones swirling from these poems. One should be warned, as one often is in literature with directional indicators: reading these poems will arouse you, not so much carnally but with an adamant curiosity about that bondage that sexual desire imposes on us, if we but give it the slightest opening. The photograph on the book’s cover sums up how huge the consent is once we crack the door even slightly.

In Fancher’s poems, the speakers consent to as much intensity as will enable them to entangle themselves in the urgent illusion of the insatiable. In doing so, they risk having their candor taken for granted, as if it were no more than a carefully disguised substitute for self-gratifying narcissism. Fancher guards against that relaxed reading by being explicit only when it is needed. In “To My New Boyfriend with Oversized Blue Lips Tattooed on His Neck,” for instance, there is no dwelling upon “kinky sex.” What that might have been is left to the delicate extremes of the reader’s conjunctions. It is within the satiety of the bower of bliss, however, that revelation most forthrightly takes place:

one night, you let it slip:

how just before she kissed you off
she lead you on a leash,

sat you in the chair,
cupped your chin,

imprinted her lipsticked kiss on your
neck’s throbbing pulse,

and ordered the tattooist to begin.

The extent to which we can trust the narrators in Fancher’s poems is a central factor in her persona. Candor requires accurate memories, and Fancher is honest enough to present memories that do not go unchallenged. “Cousin Elaine from Chicago and I Are Naked” ends with a denial by the other person that the alleged sensual intimacy between the two characters was anything more than a dream. That a dream could have the same equal consequences as an actual encounter is left unconsidered by the character of the cousin.

Indeed, one of the most convincing aspects of Fancher’s delineations of sexual power draws upon the liminality of being awake and dreaming. Is the car the lover who can’t be shared, or is it the narrator’s fellow student in an acting class, Anjelica, who teases and provokes a male voyeur with merciless evasiveness?

“When I confess the affair to my boyfriend, he jacks himself off in the galley kitchen and comes all over his unattainable fantasies. He says that he doesn’t consider sex between women to be cheating, and begs me to set up a threesome. I tell him the T-bird’s a two-seater, and watch his face fall. I could end it, but why? All I can say is that I want her for myself. All I can say is that I’m a die-hard romantic. Anyone I do, I do for love.”
(“Tonight I Dream of Anjelica, My First Ex-Girlfriend, who Taught me the Rules of the Road”)

The wit in that poem surfaces again in a conversation that more than a few men have had at some point in their lives. As a writer, Fancher takes care to remember the basic rule of giving one’s characters the best possible chance to win a scene. One of the most laconic illustrations of her deft skill comes with protestation at the end of “Morning Wood:

I long to inhabit him.

“Do you think
of your penis

as an “It”
or a “He”?

“Neither,” he says.
I think of it as Me.”

It’s not often that a book of poems has over a dozen poems that will cause anthologists a fair amount of deliberation. In addition to the poems I’ve already mentioned, it would be difficult to stop an initial list with just the following:
“Housekeeping,” “I prefer pussy….,” “this small rain,” “I was hovering….,” “Cousin Elaine…,” “the sad waitress…,” “Bambi Explains It All,” the pair of “Tattooed Girl” poems. And “Dear Mrs. Brown…” “Doggy Style Christmas,” and “Tonight I Dream of My First True Love.”

Fancher’s books of poetry have begun to attract considerable praise from Los Angeles-based poets such as Laurel Ann Bogen, Michael C. Ford, Pam Ward, Gerald Locklin, and Michelle Bitting. Tonight Fancher will read her poems as part of Library Girl series (run by Susan Hayden) at the Santa Monica Airport. It is a sold-out show, and I hope extended applause rewards Fancher’s willingness to risk having the solidity of her poetics questioned by those who feel safest on tamped-down terrain. She is fearless, and should be fearlessly praised. She is on the verge of joining poets such as Kim Addonizio, Sharon Olds, Alicia Ostriker, and Lyn Lifshin as a memorable provocateur in contemporary poetry. Clare MacQueen, the publisher of KYSO Flash, deserves equal praise for assisting the emergence of this poet into the ranks of the most significant risk-takers.

Years ago, a quarterly magazine called Yellow Silk devoted itself to a celebration of eros, and it was successful enough to generate an anthology in the early 1990s that in turn warranted some sequels. In the preface to the first collection, Richard Russo noted how small a role Eros played in the contemporary literary imagination. “When I sought out small-press and literary magazines available in this country, I found … (the writing) published there often had, and I mean this literally, death in the first paragraph.”

I, too, had noticed how rare it was to find a love poem – let along an erotic poem – in a literary magazine. I have to concur with Russo’s observation. I, too, noticed this almost perverse preference for the glamour of death, and one of my attempts to counter it was my editorial preference for love poems in my second anthology, Poetry Loves Poetry (1985). If Alexis Rhone Fancher had been writing and publishing these poems in Los Angeles thirty years ago, she would have been one of the stars of that anthology.

The Fifth Street Theater Poetry Festival (1980)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Four years after the Valentine’s Day reading at Beyond Baroque, the Fifth Street Theater hosted a poetry festival that paired poets who wrote in English and poets living in Los Angeles who wrote in another language. It was the first event I know of in this area that gave immigrant poetry an equal share of prominence in a reading series. This would seem to be the kind of thing that was recently cited by the new poet laureate of Los Angeles as her primary interest. In setting up programming, she may want to look at this early example, which was curated by Paul Vangelisti. I have reproduced the programming as listed on the original program, but have also broken the lists into clusters of poets as they would have been seen at that point.

Paul Vangelisti (co-editor; co=publisher: Invisible City/ Red Hill Press)
Martha Lifson (Martha Ronk)
John Thomas (deceased)
Robert Crosson (deceased)
Robert Peters (deceased)
Dennis Cooper (editor and publisher: Little Caesar Press; now lives elsewhere)
Ron Koertge
Bill Mohr (Momentum Press)
James Krusoe
Harry Northup
Holly Prado
Leland Hickman (deceased) (1934 – 1991)
Wanda Coleman (deceased)
Peter Levitt (now lives elsewhere)

Of the poets writing in other languages, here are links to the writing of the four best-known of them:

Chungmi Kim – Korean

Richard Exner – German (1929-2008)—2008/

Alurista – Spanish/English (born: Alberto Baltazar Urista Heredia, 1947)


Gina Valdes – Spanish / Nahuatl (born 1943)

Gina Valdés – Omens

Banaj Basu – Bengali
Nguyensa – Vietnamese
Cao Dong Knanh — Vietnamese
Saebang Lee — Korean
P.D. Sharma – Creolese-English
New Caribbean Man: Poems 1972 -1976 (Carib House, 1981)
Yuri Lechtholz – Russian
Kev Mak — Russian

Fifth Street Poetry Festival - 1

Fifth Street Poetry Festival - 2


Friday, July 21, 2017

In addition to Michael C. Ford’s publication reading on Sunday, which was announced on this blog earlier this week, I would like to mention the following pair of readings by a poet visiting from Minnesota, Bao Phi, who will be reading from his second book of poetry, THOUSAND STAR HOTEL from Coffee House Press.

BEYOND BAROQUE – 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291 (310) 822-3006
22 July Saturday 6:00 PM
Bao Phi will read from his second book of poetry, Thousand Star Hotel and Scott Kurashige will read from his book The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the Political Crisis Began in Detroit. FREE.

The Great Company — 1917 Bay St, Fl 2nd, Los Angeles, California 90021
23 July Sunday, 7:30 PM Doors, Show at 8 pm
Bao Phi: Thousand Star Hotel Book Release LA
Hosted by BEAU SIA
Bao Phi will be reading from his newly released book of poetry, Thousand Star Hotel, as part of his national book tour. Books for sale and author signing after. FREE and Open to the Public
NOTE: The entrance of The Great Company (where the reading will be held), is actually in an alley off of Wilson St. between Violet & Bay.

As for a notation on how I spent the day, I want to thank Amelie Frank, Janice Lee, Lynne Thompson, and Jessica Ceballos for their willingness to talk at length about the challenges of a life devoted to one’s own writing while at the same time helping other writers sustain their commitment to imaginative cultural work. Here are some links to their work.
Janice Lee is the author of several books, including Damnation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013), Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015), and The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). After living for over 30 years in California, she will be moving to Portland, Oregon this summer to teach at Portland State University.
True Living; Documented Relentlessly – edited by Russell Jaffe.



Three Poems (from Cultural Weekly):
Hammer & Pick
Lost Spirits
White Flight: Los Angeles, 1961

Bill Mohr – San Diego Reader: Three Poems

And, last but not least, listen to a poem by Gerry Locklin being read on The Writer’s Almanac:

The Writer’s Almanac for July 21, 2017

“Suddenly // we are within the sound that we have made…”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ann Stanford, one of the Los Angeles poets whose work I quoted in Holdouts, has not appeared in any of the past half-dozen anthologies of Los Angeles poetry, even though her work has inspired many Los Angeles poets, including Harry Northup and Michael C. Ford. The title of today’s post comes from a poem by Stanford that Ford used as an epigraph in his 1977 chapbook, West Point, which recorded one of his many cross-country jaunts over the past half-century. I have dipped into this obscure publication for today’s title because I love her description of how consciousness itself both creates that liminal ripening of poetic sound and records the instant of enveloping transition. Embedded in attuned self-awareness, Ford is one of the very few poets who has an uncanny ability to sketch with accuracy on the palimpsest of nostalgia’s delicate aura. At the same time, his poetry has maintained its droll critique of American’s cultural proclivities, while not allowing us to indulge in the sentimentality of fantasy role reversal. “Would we really do much better if we were in charge?” The answer is yes, but Ford gently instructs us as to what it would require to attain that power. Perhaps the best place to study his suggestions is his 2014 recording from Hen House Studios, Look Each Other in the Ears. I believe that his volume of “Selected Poems 1970-1995, ” which was published by Amaranth Editions in 1998 under the title “Emergency Exits,” is also still available. That book did not include, however, any poems from West Point.

For a chance to hear Michael C. Ford read from his new book, set aside this coming Sunday afternoon and head to DTLA.

Sunday, July 23

4 PM

Michael C Ford’s Women Under The Influence
Book Launch & Signing.

Featuring readings by: S.A. Griffin, Mike Sonksen, Gail Wronsky, Jerry Garcia, Hannah Thompson-Garner, Paul Cummins & Surprise Guests!

$10 Admission includes Drinks.
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Produced by Susan Hayden & Alexis Rhone Fancher @the gorgeous Fine Art Bookstore of Michael Delgado.

A.G. Geiger Fine Art Books
502 Chung King Court (at Hill Street)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

“His poems are alive and full of fresh phrases and words and insights… often dazzling bolts of images.” – Ann Stanford

“All the things I like in poems: original, serious, humous… a thrilling language-depth that only a true poet can achieve.” – Holly Prado

“Not only is he one of our premiere language artists, Ford is a writer who can bring to his readers a kaleidoscope of voices, all of which touch both the spirit and the heart.” – David St. John

“He’s one of the voices with an American sound of pure jazz.” — William Matthews

“Welcome to the work of a man who has devoted his life to poetry, who evidently, always knew the emergency exits. His is performance that is not sell-out entertainment. In his contagious, genuine enthusiasm, metaphorical intelligence, heartbreak and rebellion, he opens the sealed door to this poor world, a “Suburb of Los Angeles.” – Sharon Doubiago

Two Crucial Los Angeles Poetry Readings in 1976 and 1980 (Part One)

July 11, 2017

A PAIR OF READINGS (1976 and 1980) — PART ONE

Along with Papa Bach Bookstore and Chatterton’s, Beyond Baroque became known for its variety of poetry readings as well as other events in the mid-1970s. At one point, I proposed to Jim Krusoe that Beyond Baroque hold an evening in which poets would read their favorite children’s stories. I believe that I read “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse.” The success of that evening led to other “special theme” nights.

One of the most important readings in the mid-70s was the “cover” evening in which poets read other poets. I use “cover” in the same sense that musicians will do a “cover” of a song. We all agreed that we would not read any of our own poems. Towards the end of the long evening, though, Jack Grapes couldn’t resist the temptation to underline the punch line of his own classic stand-up metapoem: “I Like My Own Poems Best.” The audience reaction was a mixture of sighs of disappointment (rather like a crowd at a baseball game seeing a perfect game ruined in the bottom of the eight inning by a bloop single) and laughs conceding the piquant irony of Grapes’s audacious prank. The list of poets who read at this event gives a quick census of the diverse communities beginning to emerge in the mid-1970s. One would note that it is hardly the homogenous community that the new poet laureate of Los Angeles fantasizes as being the poetry scene in Los Angeles at that time.

Friday, February 13, 1976 – Beyond Baroque
“An Old Fashioned Valentine: Poets reading their favorite poems by other poets.
Ameen Alwan, Georgia Alwan, Michael Andrews, Kate Braverman, Wanda Coleman, Dennis Ellman, Michael C. Ford, Jack Grapes, Joseph Hansen, John Harris, Eloise Healy, Leland Hickman, Dennis Holt, James Krusoe, Peter Levitt, K. Curtis Lyle, William Mohr, Harry E. Northup, Holly Prado, Frances Dean Smith, Otis Smith, Paul Vangelisti.

Beyond Baroque , 8:00 p.m.

Joseph Hansen
John Harris
Frances Dean Smith
Leland Hickman
Ameen Alwan
Georgia Alwan
Harry Northup
Holly Prado
Michael C. Ford
Jack Grapes
Eloise Klein Healy
James Krusoe
Dennis Holt
K. Curtis Lyle
Otis Smith
Paul Vangelisti
Wanda Coleman
Michael Andrews
Dennis Ellman
Bill Mohr
Peter Levitt
Kate Braverman

Indeed, the extent to which other voices besides those of white males were beginning to be heard and given formal recognition can be found in a poetry reading series that was held at the Fifth Street Theater just a few years after this Valentine’s Day reading.