Kate Braverman and the “Venice Poetry Workshop”

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Kate Braverman (1949-2019)
The New York Times obituary, which appeared at the end of the week,
emphasized Braverman’s novels. In addition to failing to mention the titles of any of her books of poetry, that obituary failed to provide accurate detail in describing Kate Braverman as a “founding member of the Venice Poetry Workshop.” If by “Venice Poetry Workshop,” the NY Times is referring to a splinter group that met in the Old Venice Jail (now SPARC) forty odd years ago, then perhaps she could be accorded the status of founding member.

If, however, the NY Times is suggesting that Braverman was a founding member of Beyond Baroque’s Wednesday nigh poetry workshop, which was always informally regarded in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s as THE poetry workshop in Venice, then Braverman was closer to being a younger sibling of the first wave of poets who contributed to Beyond Baroque’s early maturation as a cultural institution. The Beyond Baroque poetry workshop was started by Joseph Hansen and John Harris soon after Beyond Baroque’s founding in 1968; by the winter-spring of 1973, it had attracted poets to its Wednesday evening sessions in a storefront setting, near the intersection of Venice Blvd. and West Washington Blvd. (now Abbott Kinney Blvd.), as diverse as Frances Dean Smith, Eleanor Zimmerman, Ann Christie, Harry Northup, Jim Krusoe, Wanda Coleman, Lynn Shoemaker, Dennis Holt, Leland Hickman, Dennis Ellman, and Paul Vangelisti. The earliest that Kate could have shown up would have been in late 1973, at which point the poets who had been in regular attendance for a year or two – if not longer — would have regarded the 24 year old Braverman as hardly eligible for “founding member” status.