Papa Bach Bookstore – Los Angeles AND Jackson Hole, Wyoming

July 15, 2020

Those who are familiar with the poetry scenes in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s will not need to be reminded of the crucial role that Papa Bach Bookstore played in accelerating the maturation of those scenes. There are also people who fondly recollect the store as a cultural resource that allowed them to build up a personal library at a reasonable cost. One of the most nostalgic pieces of writing in the latter mode that I have encountered is at the following link:
GRUBERG: The Papa Bach Story 1

GRUBERG: The Papa Bach Story 1
Posted on February 15, 2019 by Tarnmoor
“In the early 1970s, Ted and Eva sold the bookstore and moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ted told me that he planned to start a Papa Bach Bookstore there, but I have found no evidence that that ever happened. I even checked out the Jackson Hole phonebook when I was there in 2008, but found no listing for Papa Bach or the Riedels. I liked them, so I can only hope that things went all right for them.”

In this post, I would like to share with Tarnmoor physical evidence of the existence of the bookstore in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This is a book bag that I acquired when Sandra Tanhauser and I visited the store in the summer of 1976 on our way to Yellowstone National Park. Furthermore, I have been contacted by one of the offspring of the founders of that store, so I can in turn update Tantamoor a bit in regards to the history of the store. As is the case with anyone who wishes to comment on one of my posts, Tarnmoor can contact me at: AND/OR

Papa Bach Bookstore published 18 hefty issues of BACHY magazine, as well as holding many readings on its premises. Because the store folded in the mid-1980s, its contributions to the poetry scenes in Los Angeles has receded, but Paul Vangelisti among others argues that Papa Bach and not Beyond Baroque was the real center of the scene. Its publications parties for issues of the magazine were well attended and drew poets from all parts of the city. The store played a crucial, indirect role in avant-garde poetry in the late 1980s, when the editor of BACHY magazine shifted his efforts towards his own projects. Lee Hickman would never — and I want to emphasize that never — have dreamed of starting BOXCAR and TEMBLOR magazines if he had not first gained his editorial confidence by working on BACHY. Every poet who takes pride in having been published in TEMBLOR (and it is one of the legendary magazines of the period) needs to acknowledge Papa Bach Bookstore as the progenitor of that felicitous outcome.

POST-SCRIPT: (the evening of July 15th)
A few weeks ago, I jotted down a comment I made about war, and noticing it this evening suddenly brought back the memory that Papa Bach Bookstore was known for providing draft counseling to young men back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The draft counselors used the upstairs loft to meet with these who needed guidance in how to resist or evade the draft.

So what was the comment, you ask?
“There are no atheists in foxholes,” is a cliche about soldiers trapped in the throes of combat; to which my response is — “But if only those who are atheists can serve in foxholes, there will be extraordinarily fewer wars caused by religious perfidy.”

(This blog entry, as is the case with the entire blog, is copyright Bill Mohr 2013-2020. All rights reserved. Permission to quote or to use an image in this blog must be obtained in writing from the author.)

W – E Poetry Reading Series, July 19th

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

W – E
The W(est)-E(ast) Poetry Reading Series is delighted to present
Its second bi-coastal collaboration:

Marsha de la O
Kai Coggin
liz gonzalez
Gerry LaFemina
Mike The Poet Sonksen
Barbara Unger

7 p.m. (NYC time)
4 p.m. (L.A./S.F. time)

Reach out to one of the three W-E co-hosts: Susana H. Case, Lynn McGee or William Mohr, for the Zoom link. Please share it with your friends, but not in a public forum.
Subject line: W-E Information Request


On Sunday, July 19 — 7 p.m. NYC time; 4 p.m. L.A. time — W-E, Bicoastal Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond is excited to present east coast poets Kai Coggin, Gerry LaFemina and Barbara Unger, and west coast poets Marsha de la O, liz gonzalez andMike the Poet Sonksen.

Over a hundred people from around the country attended our inaugural reading last month, and W-E hosts Susana H. Case and Lynn McGee (east coast) and William Mohr (west coast) are looking forward to another event that cross-links west- and east-coast poetry communities.

We hope to see you on July 19. Stay safe and well. Keep writing or whatever keeps you strong.


KAI COGGIN is author of the poetry collections Periscope Heart (Swimming with Elephants, 2014), Wingspan (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016) and Incandescent (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019), as well as the spoken word album Silhouette (2017). Nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and twice for Best in the Net, Kai’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Entropy, Sinister Wisdom, Assaracus, Calamus Journal, Lavender Review, The Rise Up Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review and elsewhere. A teaching artist with the Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Learning Through the Arts, Kai also hosts the longest-running open mic series in the country, Wednesday Night Poetry. She lives in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.

To order signed copies of Kai Coggin’s books, click here:

liz gonzález grew up in the San Bernardino Valley, California and is the author of Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds: Poems y Cuentos New and Selected (Los Nietos Press 2018). Her poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Interlitq, Voices de la Luna, Askew Poetry Journal, The Anthology of Contemporary Chicanx Writers and Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, among others. She teaches creative writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and lives in Long Beach, California with an indifferent Chihuahua, a talkative tortie cat and Jorge Martin, a scientist and musician.

To learn more about liz gonzález, visit her website:

To order Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds: Poems y Cuentos New and Selectedby liz gonzález, click here:

GERRY LaFEMINA’slatest books are the poetry collection The Story of Ash(Anhinga, 2018) and a volume of prose poems, Baby Steps for Doomsday Prepping(Madville, 2020). His essays on poets and prosody, Palpable Magic, came out on Stephen F. Austin University Press and his textbook Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically was released by Kendall Hunt. A noted literary arts activist who has served on the AWP Board of Directors and edited numerous literary journals and anthologies, Gerry is the former director of the Center for Literary Arts at Frostburg State University, where he is a Professor of English. He also serves as a poetry mentor in the MFA Program at Carlow University and is a current Fulbright Specialist in Writing, Literature and American Culture.

To learn more about Gerry LaFemina, visit his website:

To order Gerry LaFemina’s books, click here:

MARSHA de la O’s latest book, Every Ravening Thing (Pitt Poetry Series) came out in Spring 2019. Her previous book, Antidote for Night, won the 2015 Isabella Gardner Award (BOA Editions) and her first book, Black Hope, won the New Issues Press Poetry Prize. Marsha has published extensively in journals, including two recent poems in The New Yorker, as well as poems in the Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Barrow Street, Third Coast and the North American Review. Together with Phil Taggart, she produces poetry events and has edited the literary journals Spillway and Askew.

To order Marsha de la O’s latest book, click here:

Marsha de la O

BARBARA UNGAR’s fifth book of poetry, Save Our Ship, won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2019; it also won an IBPA Ben Franklin award and was a Distinguished Favorite of the IPA. Barbara’s chapbook EDGE — named for the EDGE lists of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species — is just out from Ethel Press. Prior books include Immortal Medusa (Adirondack Center For Writing Poetry Award Co-Winner, 2015), Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life (Finalist For The National Poetry Series & Sarabande’s Kathryn A. Morton Prize; The Word Works, 2010), The Origin of the Milky Way (Gival Poetry Prize, 2006), and Thrift (Finalist For The Tupelo, Verse, Starrett & New Issues Poetry Prizes & The May Swenson Poetry Award). A professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, she lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
To learn more about Barbara Ungar, visit her website:
To order Barbara Ungar’s latest award-winning full-length collection, Save Our Ship, click here:

To order her 2020 chapbook, EDGE, click here:

MIKE SONKSEN, aka Mike the Poet, is a third-generation Los Angeles native. Poet, professor, journalist, historian and tour-guide, his latest book Letters to My Citywas published by Writ Large Press. For the last decade he has published over 200 essays with KCET and his poetry has been featured on the Public Radio Stations KCRW, KPCC and KPFK, as well as TV programs including Spectrum News. Mike teaches at Woodbury University in Burbank, California.

To order Letters to My City by Mike Sonksen, click here:

Letters to My City by Mike Sonksen

Eileen Aronson Ireland’s First Book of Poems

July 10, 2020

In 1972, Paul Vangelisti and John McBride decided to publish a book of poems by John Thomas, who had initially surfaced as a poet in the Venice West scene shortly after the publication of the Lawrence Lipton’s The Holy Barbarians. Thomas had originally hitchhiked to the West Coast with the intention of living in San Francisco, but the ride he caught was headed to Los Angeles, and so he decided to visit Venice. Thomas did not have a very high opinion of Lipton’s book, but fortunately he found the poets who were used as Lipton’s models of contemporary bohemian life (circa 1957-1959) to be more than worth spending time with. Thomas was primarily responsible for starting a poetry workshop in Venice, which included another recent arrival in Venice, Eileen Aronson Ireland.

Ireland became friends with several of the poets who made up the Venice West community, and went on provide the epigraph for the first poem in John Thomas’s eponymous Red Hill collection. According to Eileen Ireland, the epigraph was taken from a passage in a letter she wrote him.

“it is snail today about
4 whorls in the ice on the
Arctic floe southerly”
— Eileen Ireland

Almost a half-century later, it is Eileen’s turn to have her first book of poems published. IF SF Publishing is proud to announce the publication of SPOKEN FLARES, SUNG BEACONS: Selected Poems and Lyrics. The cover photograph of the Venice boardwalk is by poet and photographer Rod Bradley. The publisher and the author thank him for its use.

The book will be available from SPD:

The Latest Entry in the Teardrop Trailer Parade

July 8, 2020

About a year ago, our neighbors acquired a very dilapidated Teardrop trailer and set about making it inhabitable again. This model of portable camping out stopped being made well over a half-century ago, and I can assure you that the interior of this particular Teardrop needed complete refurbishing. I confess that I yearned to know of its provenance. It seemed like a master painting that had been left in a damp attic to find for itself for many winters, but was now about to glow in all its humble splendor.

Midday yesterday, Linda and I headed out to take a brief walk and got rewarded with a chance to see it, fully restored and road worthy again, just before it started rolling on its first outing in many years! Bon voyage!

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; “47”; and the Testimony of Gary Sheffield and Bob Gibson

The arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in July, 2009, on his own front porch for having the temerity to rebuke a system that viewed him as an always already target of suspicion provoked a brief flare-up of public attention on the ability of a police force to protect and serve all citizens equally. President Obama, who had only been in office for six months, commented that “there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.” He should have added “as well as beaten and killed” to his statement about “being stopped,” but since Professor Gates had not been physically harmed in the confrontation at his home, Obama refrained from magnifying a volatile situation. The scornful reaction by police officials to Obama’s comment, in which they refused to acknowledge the truth of racial profiling, revealed the extent to which racism is so embedded in this system as to be inextricable in its present superficies.

In contrast with the current occupant of the White House, Obama did not pile on with provocative assessments of the confrontation in Cambridge, but instead invited both Professor Gates and the police officer who arrested him to meet at the White House and engage in a public ritual of mutual mollification. As details became known, it turned out that the police officer was not at all the aggressive stereotype of a cop that it might be easy to regard him as; in fact, according to reports I have read, Professor Gates and Officer Crowley eventually achieved an amicable relationship.

The limits of reconciliation, however, are encased in centuries of relentless brutality that only rarely becomes visible to anyone other than the perpetrators and the afflicted. It is the weight of the undocumented, in all its incontrovertible encroachments on daily life, that most forestalls any appeasement of the justifiable rage that surges like a psychic tsunami through of communities of color. There is so little to protect anyone in those communities from the ravages of violent interdiction. Those who are privileged by their skin color need to begin formally recognizing the odds one faces in having even a flimsy chance of seeing justice administered when police arrogance entraps them. Think of the odds of anyone growing up and becoming a famous professional athlete, and then double, or triple, or quadruple those odds and you’ll have the abyss of American justice.

Even if one is a gifted athlete, however, the likelihood that having an unfortunate encounter with police predators might become publicized, but it is unlikely to lead to any punishment for the criminal behavior of the police. I call to your attention an infamous incident involving two major baseball players, Dwight Gooden and his nephew Gary Sheffield, who were both All-Stars multiple times in the course of their careers.

Imagine that this entire incident had been preserved on videotape, in the way that the Rodney King beating was recorded. Does anyone really believe that it would not be another irrefutable instance of transgressive violence by police officers for which they should have been punished? Would it not then serve to make clear that nothing whatsoever had been learned by police forces in the United States in the aftermath of the King riots? Instead, it was back to business as usual for the so-called “rogue” elements in police departments, just as professional sports serve as a way to smooth over the discomfiting legacy of racism. It’s all well and good for MLB to celebrate Jackie Robinson day by having every player wear his number on the day celebrating the integration of professional baseball in the modern era of the game, but to imagine that this provides some measure of reconciliation for the decades and decades in which the best athletes to play the game, including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, were denied the chance to play at the highest level, is to engage in an extreme case of the social imaginary.

In a recent interview, Hall of Fame member Bob Gibson talks about an early incident in his career and how little things have truly changed. On the other, he is not a complete pessimist: “But now that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that give me hope, especially in our game. I don’t just see Black players speaking up, the way they always have. I see something deeper. I see white players listening more than they used to.”

*. *. *. *

Racial justice requires the elimination of contingency, and in calling for the defunding of police departments, I would like to clarify what should be funded. The budgets for police departments need to be modified in such a way that surveillance of the police is a matter of constant record. Until this supervision is given financial priority, and the oversight remains in the hands of those whose lives are supposed to be protected by the police, then there is no hope that this travesty will ever be rectified.

The problem, of course, is that the funding for an effective system of first-responders is that there is a knee on the throat of those who wish to devote themselves to public service. The budget for the Pentagon has strangled any possibility for social reparations and economic improvement in the lives of communities of color.

Also worth reading:

Paul Violi and a “Back to the Future” Pandemic Poem

July 1, 2020

It was well over 40 years ago that I first encountered the poems of Paul Violi (1944-2011). I had found his book HARMATAN in a bookstore in New York City in the fall of 1977. At that point, I was still editing and publishing my magazine, MOMENTUM, but it was becoming clear that I should focus on book production. The final issue of the magazine came out in 1978, and I didn’t have time to write a review of Violi’s book. As a substitute, I ran a full page notice at the end of the issue as a free advertisement in which I cited his book as the best book of poems I found on my trip.

Here is part of a poem by Paul Violi that seems just as effective in 2020 in letting its depth of field carry its humor as it was when he was wrote and read it to others. I can think of more than a few anthologies that would be easily improved with a substantial selection of his work.

I assume the citation of “Weehawken” in this poem is a nod toward part one of William Carlos Williams’s “January Morning,” in which “the beauties of travel” are attributed to the “strange hours we keep to see them.” The example Williams invokes is the domes of a Catholic Church in Weehawken. In a chapter (“The Virtue of History”) in Williams’s In the American Grain, Williams will examine the aftermath of the Hamilton-Burr duel, which took place in Weehawken.

Appeal to the Grammarians
by Paul Violi

We, the naturally hopeful,
Need a simple sign
For the myriad ways we’re capsized.
We who love precise language
Need a finer way to convey
Disappointment and perplexity.
We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot,
The child whose ball doesn’t bounce back,
The flat tire at journey’s outset,
The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken.
But mainly because I need it—here and now
As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio
Staring at my espresso and cannoli
After this middle-aged couple
Came strolling by and he suddenly
Veered and sneezed all over my table
And she said to him, “See, that’s why
I don’t like to eat outside.”

The “Monsurrection” 2020

June 25, 2020

On Tuesday night, I taught several classic poems and short stories in a three and a half hour period. One of them, James Baldwin’s harrowing account of a lynching, “Going to Meet the Man,” was by all accounts a challenging piece of reading on the part of the students. Indeed, it has not gotten much easier for me to read over the years. Even a half-dozen encounters with Baldwin’s story have not enabled me to get through the story without looking up from the page, as though I could somehow avert my eyes from the psychopathology that has ravaged the United States of America.

One of my students reported to that class that close to 5,000 incidents of extreme racial violence occurred between the end of Reconstruction and 1950. In my lifetime, how many more hundreds and hundreds == indeed, thousands — of egregious acts of torture and death have occurred at the hands of utter iniquity? Should anyone really be shocked that the oppressed have had it up to here, as the expression goes.

At this point, “monuments” are being torn down in a rage that unfortunately has targeted even the memory of those who themselves died in order to put a stop to the perpetuation of evil. In Wisconsin, a statue of man who was a hero in the battle against oppression has been decapitated. It needs to be said: when rage becomes indiscriminate, it’s time for those who have lost control of their emotions to begin to think of alternatives. (Those who burned the American flag in the 1960s, as I noted in the previous post, chose the wrong symbol, and should have targeted the Confederate flag.) Instead of tearing down the statue of a Civil War hero, why not build a statue of George Floyd in which one of his feet is lifted off the ground, both buoyant with a sense of justice’s triumph, but also poised to strike with its tip anyone who would dare to make him submit again.

One has no choice, it seems, but to acknowledge that a cultural insurrection is taking place, and that the targets are symbolic appears to make it all the more poignantly viable. It is an updating, it seems to me, of the burning of draft cards during the Viet Nam war. It is a monumental insurrection — a monsurrection — in which those who have been oppressed know that “Authority” has infinitely more weapons except in one area: the refusal to accept the insult of seeing the monuments of those who advocated and practiced oppression held up as being admirable, instead of carved into niches of reprehensible hypocrisy.

Let us hope that the statue of Colonel Hans Christian Heg can soon be restored to a place of honor; let us not, however, forget the lesson of the infamy of its desecration: “those to whom evil is done / do evil in return.”

Burning the Confederate Flag at Dodger Stadium

June 24, 2020

Our prevaricator-in-residence at the Oval Office recently revived an old right-wing talking point about making the burning of the American flag a criminal act. But what about the flag that is most commonly associated with the Confederacy? Would he propose to make that a crime, too?

The battle flag of the Confederacy, after all, is associated with one of the heinous crimes committed at the very outset of his quest to be elected President, during the aftermath of which he referred to supporters of the symbolic insinuations of all that homicidal regalia as “very fine people.” As utterly dismaying as the impulsive police executions of African-Americans since 2008 has been (and the date is fixed there as a reminder that these executions in my opinion reflected a displaced desire on the part of these officers), the murders at a Bible-study meeting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, still cry out for a full measure of repentance.

In looking back at the various shock tactics used by my generation in the 1960s and 1970s to drive home their objections to the racist war machine that did the biding of American foreign policy, I never supported the burning of the American flag. Among other objections, I saw such a gesture as an admission that the protest being made was simply a self-cancelling zero-sum game of rhetorical futility.

In retrospect, of course, I would support the burning of a flag: the Stars and Bars. My friends, we were burning the wrong flag. Far better that we had shown some real courage and burned Dixie’s battle flag as the inauguration of an anti-racist movement at the start of our country’s bicentennial.

Think about it. If on the first day of American Bicentennial, we had burned the Confederate Flag at each of the following College Bowl events, it would have sent a message that it was not enough to have elected a Democrat as president in the aftermath of Nixon’s betrayal of the Constitution. Fundamental change was needed in the entire system, including a total rejection of the South’s continuing belief in the legitimacy of the “Lost Cause.”

Date: December 20, 1975. Location: Orlando, Florida
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: December 22, 1975. Location: Memphis, Tennessee
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: December 26, 1975. Location: El Paso, Texas
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

The Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl
Date: December 27, 1975. Location: Houston, Texas
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: December 29, 1975. Location: Jacksonville, Florida
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: December 31, 1975. Location: Atlanta, Georgia
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: December 31, 1975. Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: January 1, 1976. Location: Dallas, Texas
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

Date: January 1, 1976 Location: Miami, Florida
EVENT: Burning of the Confederate Flag

The Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona could have been tossed in for good measure, but it’s the above places and dates that would served notice that an anti-racism movement would not settle for anything less than a complete repudiation of the Confederacy’s patrimony.

It’s never too late.

With a shortened baseball season finally beginning to take shape, I have been thinking about the places that I would most enjoy seeing such a spectacle, and Dodger Stadium seems the most appropriate venue. Unfortunately, no spectators will be allowed to see the games this season, and so my fantasy of seeing someone burn the Confederate flag at Dodger Stadium will have to wait until 2021. This gives us plenty of time to consider the possible answers to the following scenarios.

Would any player attempt to reprise Rick Monday’s rescue of the United States’ flag in April, 1976, at Dodger Stadium, and grab the Confederate flag away from the protestors in 2021?

Would the supporters of BLM who burn the Confederate flag in 2021 be given the same vigorous standing ovation from the crowd at the ball game that Rick Monday received for his rescue of the American flag in 1976?

Most likely the players would simply wait for security guards to escort the protestors off the field. How long the chant — BLACK LIVES MATTER — would echo in the stadium is one gauge of how many centuries in this millennium it will take to bring about an enduring reconciliation. The shorter the chant, the deeper into this millennium the task of racial justice will remain an unfinished aspiration.

“Harmony, Not Harm” — From Las Vegas (New Mexico and Nevada) to Porter and Belfast, Maine

While the demonstrations in large urban areas are getting the most attention, it is the case that smaller towns are also contributing to the groundswell of protests the past month. Eileen Aronson Ireland, for instance, recently sent me this photograph of a sign she carried at a demonstration in Las Vegas, New Mexico, a town in the northern portion of the state with a population of around 13,000 people.

It’s one thing to see massive protests in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Las Vegas (Nevada), Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Portland, Pittsburgh, and New York. Here’s a partial list of “smaller” towns and cities whose residents have commiserated with the sorrow and anger felt by those in larger congregations:

Salt Lake City
Fort Collins
New Haven
Downers Grove
Cedar Rapids
Ann Arbor

In the midst of all this, the comparatively minuscule gatherings in Las Vegas, New Mexico as well as Porter and Belfast, Maine may feel that their voices are not heard, but in this roll call at least, they are every bit as audible, and we will all be heard together in less than 140 days.

Juneteenth and Trump’s Deplorable Ignorance

June 19, 2020

I am in the midst of giving students their grades for their first mid-term paper in a compressed summer session course at CSULB, so I don’t have time to work on a photoshopped image, but if someone out there could help me out, I have a request:

Please take the recent image of Trump standing in front of the parish house of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. and photoshop it so that he is instead holding up a copy of Ralph Ellison’s JUNETEENTH. Under that image I would like to run the caption:

“Nobody had ever heard of it.” — President Trump

Counting the days until the first Tuesday in November, 2020, when we can start the process of preparing to put this blithering illiterate on trial. If he is found guilty, I would recommend confinement to an air-conditioned and well-appointed prison library for an appropriate length of time so that he can spend time acquainting himself with the great writers of American fiction and poetry, beginning with a steady diet of African-American authors.

The sooner the Supreme Court rules on Vance, the better.