Kevin Starr (1940 – 2017)

Kevin Starr (September 3, 1940 – January 14, 2017)

On page five of Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992, I cited Kevin Starr’s distinction between the kind of novels written about Los Angeles and the poetry produced by the poets living here. His comment echoes an observation made many years earlier by Paul Vangelisti, though I doubt that Starr was aware of Vangelisti’s commentary. In any case, we all owe an immense debt to Starr’s lifetime of work.

If by the final decade of the past century the Los Angeles novel had become stigmatized by its “phantasmagoric quality,” according to the primary chronicler of California history, Kevin Starr, the poetry scenes in Los Angeles had contrastingly produced a body of work that yielded “a most extraordinary connection between poetry and life, between poetry and the daily facts of Los Angeles” (480-481). Starr then optimistically conjectures that “someday, someone would figure out why the L.A. novel went one way while poetry took another path” (481).
(HOLDOUTS, page 5)

Starr is quoted from Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge 1990-2003. New York: Vintage Books, 2004