Johanna Drucker on Beyond Baroque’s 50th anniversary

Friday, April 6, 2017

George Drury Smith, the founder of Beyond Baroque, recently gave a talk there in which he shared a number of details of his life that had not been known even by people who worked with him back in the institution’s earliest days. Johanna Drucker, a professor at UCLA, has just had an article published in the Los Angeles Review of Books in which she reports on Smith’s talk and interweaves its details with a reevaluation of the notion of “provincialism.”

Fifty Years of Beyond Baroque: 1968–2018

One of the most important factors in Beyond Baroque’s growth and longevity was the ability of Smith to attract people to his idealistic yearning for a renewed avant-garde. Smith has frequently spoken of the disparity between his own hopes for literary experimentation on a large cultural scale and the preferences of other writers in the Los Angeles and the West Coast. His genius, in part, as a cultural worker was his uncanny ability to provide space for people such as Alexandra Garrett, Jim Krusoe, Manager Gamboa, and Dennis Cooper. Garrett founded the Beyond Baroque Library, which Drucker has led the way in cataloguing with the assistance of her students at UCLA. Krusoe began as a poet who was frequently acknowledged as the person most admired by a cross-section of L.A. poets,; he has subsequently become one of the most respected novelists in the United States. Gamboa went on from his position of leading Beyond Baroque to found community-based writing projects in East L.A. and Long Beach. A park near where I live in Long Beach has a cultural center named in his honor, with a poem on one of its exterior walls. Dennis Cooper has become of the leading gay writers of the past 75 years, and the way that writers rallied to his defense when the behemoths of technological ingenuity attempted to eradicate his writing was quite remarkable. In fact unprecedented. That Cooper triumphed against considerable odds was the cause of much quiet satisfaction.

One of the features of Beyond Baroque is the free poetry workshop that takes place on Wednesday nights. There will be another free workshop, last eight weeks, that will meet on Tuesday nights starting on May 8. This workshop will focus on Los Angeles poetry, and will include instruction as well as an opportunity for each participant to make her or his own contribution to this body of writing. Laurence Goldstein’s Poetry Los Angeles will serve as a common textbook and major reference point.

For details, go to Beyond Baroque’s website or call (310) 822-3006.

http://www.beyondbaroque.org

https://www.send2press.com/wire/beyond-baroque-to-mark-50th-anniversary-in-2018/