Phoebe MacAdams: the Interlitq Interview; and CROSS-STROKES

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

David Garyan is an American poet who has been living and working in Italy for several years. One of the ways he has stayed connected with poets on the West Coast is through working as an editor on INTERLITQ (International Literary Quarterly), for which he compiled a multi-part anthology of California poets. He has also interviewed several of those poets at length, the most recent of which is Phoebe MacAdams.

As Phoebe mentions in her interview, I met her through Harry Northup and Holly Prado, the latter of whom she was studying with in a private workshop that Holly conducted for several decades. Harry had asked me to take over the reading series at Gasoline Alley coffee shop, but I told him that I wasn’t willing or able to do all the work by myself, and I would only take it on if I could share the duties with someone else. Harry approached Phoebe, who said she was willing to add running a poetry series to her already busy life of teaching at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles. We did the series for about two years, after which I began to concentrate on producing a video series of readings through Century Cable. Many of these recordings are at the Archive for New Poetry at UCSD.

One of the things I most appreciate about David’s interview with Phoebe is the way that her poems are interwoven with references to books about the history of Bolinas. I only visited Bolinas once, and while it was long after the glory days of its poetry scenes, it was enough of a visit to help me fill the visual mise-en-scene of Phoebe’s reminiscences in the interview. If I had known that there was a cemetery there, I most certainly would have made a visit. Phoebe said in the interview that Lewis MacAdams’s ashes will soon be interred there. On whatever hour and day that bestowal takes place, I hope to be able to pause in whatever I am doing and feel “the wheel of Mutability” enclose us all in its unbroken circle.

“Fates, be kind.”

Interlitq’s Californian Poets Interview Series: Phoebe MacAdams, Poet, Educator, interviewed by David Garyan

In the course of the interview, Phoebe and David cite the work of several other poets who lived in Bolinas in the 1970s, including her husband at that time, Lewis MacAdams, as well as Ellen Sander and Aram Saroyan. It is the presence of these poets in Los Angeles at various points in the past thirty years that significantly contributed to the major organizing concept of an anthology I co-edited with Neeli Cherkovski, CROSS-STROKES. That anthology set out to demolish the notion that there was no immersibility between poets in Southern California and Northern California. Rather, Checkovski and I wanted to show how the flow of poets up and down the coast part of what sustained the poetic ecology of this enormous domain within the Republic of Poetry.

This anthology, which also includes Kevin Opstedal, whom Phoebe also mentions, as well as others who lived in Bolinas after she left, such as Joe Sadie, is still available from SPD Books. My design of its cover remains one of my satisfying moments in book production.

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