Mike Sonksen and Mike Davis

Monday, July 25

I wandered over to Page Against the Machine bookstore the other day and bought a couple book, including Mike Sonksen’s “Letters to My City.” After I got home, I looked at the back cover and noticed that there was a blurb by Mike Davis, author of CITY OF QUARTZ: “A genuine people’s poet and historian, as well as tour guide nonpareil, he focuses our attention on the grassroots experiences that keep the un-embalmed arts militantly alive in the city’s diverse neighborhoods…. What Whitman was to Brooklyn, Poet Mike is to contemporary LA.” Former Los Angeles poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez also contributed an enthusiastic blurb.

Sonksen’s volume of essays and poems should be mandatory reading in every high school and college in Los Angeles County. The only chapter missing from this volume is some commentary that was also missing from his recent essay on spoken work in Los Angeles: where is Harvey Robert Kubernik? If anyone deserves credit in a volume dedicated to calling attention to the cultural activists who have championed the “grassroots” “diverse” artists and writers of this city, it’s Harvey!

I was pleased to note that Sonksen included one of my favorite poems of his: “The Riots Were the Week Before the Prom,” which was a line he spontaneously said to a classroom of my students several years ago when I invited him to read his work at CSULB. I said to him, “That’s a line for a poem,” and he went home and wrote it. Sometimes poetry truly is more dialogic than Bahktin wanted to concede (though Donald Wesling’s book does a superb job of rectifying that theoretical wobble).

Today, Lynell George dropped the community a link to an article on the sad news of Mike Davis’s deteriorating health, though he remains in good spirits. Here is the link to that story:

“Mike Davis has terminal cancer. But his big worry is what is happening to our world” by Gustavo Arellano

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