Sunday, November 17, 2013

Last night Linda and I went to a poetry reading at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. Although we technically live in Los Angeles County, we’re so far south that Orange County is less than a score of traffic lights on Seventh Street away from us. To make the trek worth it, we left early enough to catch a few galleries on Washington Boulevard in Culver City. We especially enjoyed the paintings at the Maxwell Alexander Gallery, which has only been open for a year. If this gallery can keep the doors open, it may start giving the George Stern Gallery some serious competition. One of the paintings was not a depiction of a California or Southwest landscape, but a superb encounter by Ray Roberts with a coastal scene in Maine in which the mist and ocean-slathered rocks hunched together in the brevity of several trumpet blasts of light.

Oddly enough, Maine put in an appearance at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, too, in the form of environmentally derived sculptures by Nathalie Miebach. An old friend of ours, Larkin Higgins, was already there when we arrived and she enthusiastically recommended the soundtracks that were available at the far wall of the exhibit. Miebach’s work is a fabric-based transcription of the weather conditions in the Gulf of Maine, which then becomes the basis for a collaboration with musicians and composers. Unfortunately, we didn’t have sufficient time to spend at her show and we’ll have to make a return trip sometime in December.

The reading was well attended and MC Brendan Constantine kept the evening in good spirits with his inimitable effervescent wit. Brendan mentioned that Rick Lupert and he had first seen Mindy Nettifee reading her poetry in her mid-teens: “She had no right to be writing that well.” I’m happy to report that she’s writing better than ever and a breakthrough book is long overdue. The other readers included Brynn Saito and Bruce Snider. All three had broadsides printed of a poem or poems written in response to the exhibition on the third floor. I had a little trouble hearing Saito’s poems, though that may be due to the deterioration of my own capacity to hear, so I was happy to see her “W.W.” (“Woman Warrior”) poems printed on both sides of her card. Bruce Snider told me that the poem on his broadside, “Creation Myth,” was a new one. I look forward to sharing it with my students this coming week. He set up a sequence of “t” chords from start to finish in the poem that fastened the images to each other with startling clarity.

Several other readings took place last night in the Los Angeles area. It was a tough call about which one to attend. Beyond Baroque featured Alan Soldofsky, Carol Davis and Dean Rader; and across town, Ron Koertge and Charles Webb were reading at a bookstore. Linda and I made the right choice, though, because I got a chance to talk with Marisela Norte, who is now working at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. At first, I didn’t recognize her, which reminded me how much I depend on context to help me remember. She had worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art for so long that I couldn’t imagine her being at the counter of any other arts institution. I was abashed when she said, “Bill Mohr, don’t you recognize me?” I certainly hope to bring her to CSU Long Beach very soon to give a reading.

We’ve had two poets so far this semester: Myriam Gurba and Christopher Buckley. Myriam’s poems exemplify some of the missing links in lesbian identity formation in a film such as “Blue is the Warmest Color.” I appreciated the DIY small press spirit of Gurba’s production. One photocopied chapbook had a notation that was absolutely in the spirit of those who worked forty and fifty years ago in alternative publishing: the page read simply: “copyright and all that shit.”

Chris Buckley has launched a new magazine, MIRAMAR, which deserves your subscription money as soon as you can find enough left over after rent and food. The first issue has more good poems than any single issue of a magazine has a right to assemble in its table of contents. Gary Soto has one of his best poems in many years; Jon Veinburg, Naomi Nye, Suzanne Lummis, Richard Jackson, Laurel Ann Bogen, Greg Pape, Amy Uyematsu, Dixie Salazar, Christopher Howell, and many others contribute to an extraordinary first issue, dedicated to “old school truth and beauty.” All the contributors subtly make a case for Buckley’s choice of the lower case.

Here’s the pertinent information:


342 Oliver Road

Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Single copies: $10. 2 year subscriptions: $15.

NOTE: “Submissions are read February through August and will be given prompt attention.”







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