Tag Archives: Harry Northup

Sunday, August 20th Update: $23,000 Raised on Behalf of Holly and Harry

Sunday morning, August 20, 2017

A week and a half ago, a half-dozen Los Angeles poets (Amelie Frank, Laurel Ann Bogen, Steve Goldman, Lynne Bronstein, Luis Campos, and Phoebe MacAdams Ozuna) launched a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Holly Prado and Harry Northup, who recently lost their possessions in a nocturnal electrical fire in their apartment that nearly took their lives. Two hundred and twenty-five people have responded to the appeal, and slightly over $23,000 has been raised. The original goal was $20,000, and it speaks to the stature that Holly and Harry have within Southern California poetry that writers, readers, and artists have responded with such generosity to their need. If 75 more people contributed $25 each, the campaign would then have 300 total contributors to a $25,000 fund.

I do want to reiterate that once they are settled back in their residence, it would help them immensely to have a working library again. I would like to suggest that Beyond Baroque hold a book party to which the poets and readers of poetry of Los Angeles contribute as many books as possible. One possibility would be to have a “library committee” of poets go through the piles of books, pick out volumes they believe would most interest Holly and Harry, and then invite them to make their choices, after which we could haul their new library to East Hollywood.

Tuesday evening update:

The GoFundMe campaign to assist Holly Prado and Harry Northup has almost reached the $16,000 level of donations. The project is at the 80 percent mark. Over 170 people have contributed so far. If another forty or fifty people would make a small donation, we would all be able to savor the generosity of our community in helping two of our own recover from a devastating loss.

Once again, my thanks to all of you who have helped these old friends.

Tuesday morning, August 15, 2017


Almost 150 people have responded to the GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to help Holly Prado and Harry Northup recover from the fire that devastated their apartment recently. After only four days, almost $13,000 has been pledged to their support. We are only $7,000 away from completing this project. I realize that many of the people who have given have already asked their friends and artistic colleagues to contribute, too, so this final third of the fundraising will not be as easy as the initial push. Nevertheless, I believe there are still many people who would be willing to contribute if they knew about Holly’s and Harry’s plight. Both of them are poets who have responded with absolute imaginative integrity to Cary Nelson’s question at the end of Repression and Recovery: “What is the social value of a life devoted to poetry?”

Harry and Holly met in the mid-1970s, shortly after I had published Feasts, Holly’s novella of “autobiographical fiction.” According to Harry, he felt inspired to meet Holly after reading Feasts. They have been inseparable since then.

Should any of you need quick and easy links to send to people who may not be familiar with Harry’s and Holly’s writing, please avail yourself of the following:

(for Holly Prado)



(for Harry Northup)




Update on Assistance for Holly Prado and Harry Northup

Monday, August 14, 2017

The GoFundMe campaign to raise $20,000 for poets Holly Prado and Harry Northup has reached the one-third mark in a very short time: as of this morning, the total raised is slightly more than $7,500.

I first met Holly and Harry back in the early 1970s — before they had met each other, in fact. I met Harry through the Beyond Baroque Wednesday night workshop; and I met Holly because she was in charge of the Southern California Poets-in-the-Schools program and she trained me when I led my first classes. Harry was writing expressionistic serial poems, and Holly was among the first to be writing a significant amount of prose poetry, which in 1974 was hardly given any respect at all. By the time the fourth issue of Momentum magazine came out in the spring of 1975, I had published poems by both of them, and I included them in both of my Los Angeles based anthologies. They have been crucial poets in California’s emergence as a significant conversant in American literature, and as our respected elders deserve an outpouring of support and affirmation.

If you have given, thank you. If you would like to help, please go to:

or pass along this link to those who might be able to assist them.

Put Your Ears On: poetry videos

Monday, February 8, 2016

In the late 1980s, poet and actor Harry Northup asked me to take over a poetry reading series he had started at a coffee house on Melrose Avenue called Gasoline Alley. Running a weekly series halfway across town from where I lived in Ocean Park was not something I wanted to undertake alone, and I only agreed to be Harry’s successor because Phoebe MacAdams said that she would share the job. This was not the first series I had run; a decade earlier I had been in charge of the reading series at Intellectuals & Liars Bookstore in Santa Monica. After running the series for two years, I realized that very good readings were not being recorded at all. In fact, a lot of the writing in Los Angeles was not being documented on film or on tape in any way. It was about that time that cable television was establishing itself as a major alternative to the traditional format of television broadcasting; in order for cable franchises to make inroads, they had to make concessions that the major networks had long taken off of any negotiating table. One concession to the customers who had to accept the exclusive domination of the cable franchise system in their neighborhood was to provide a public access channel and studio space with which to make programs for broadcasting.

I decided to sign up for a couple of classes at Century Cable in Santa Monica that would enable me to become a producer of a show that focused on Los Angeles poetry. Starting in 1990, I hosted a program called “Put Your Ears On,” which featured poets such as Lee Hickman, Harry Northup, John Thomas, Bob Flanagan, Scott Wannberg, Jim Krusoe, Ellen Sander, Laurel Ann Bogen, and Richard Garcia. I have just posted on YouTube several of these programs.

“Substitute Teacher” – Bill Mohr – YouTube Link

Ball of Tension – Bill Mohr – YouTube Link

“My Turtle’s Passport” – Bill Mohr – YouTube Link


Harry Northup — a poem to guide a future laureate

About two weeks ago, I received an e-mail announcing that the Cultural Affairs Department of Los Angeles was seeking nominations and applications for the post of poet laureate. I responded with a list of poets that the nominating committee should consider contacting, one of whom was Harry Northup. I saw Harry at the talk I gave with George Drury Smith at LACMA on June 21, and he let me know that he appreciated my nomination, but that he was not going to apply for the position. He sent me a poem he wrote at the start of this month, though, in which he pushes back against the normative rubrics that any bureaucracy finds itself enmeshed in, no matter how well intentioned. I wish that Harry’s poem had been the preamble for the announcement of the application period by the CAD. With his permission, I post it here.

Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles


First shut the door.  Write what you want to write.

Write with sincerity.  You’ve seen those writing rules.

Be all-embracing.  Be not afraid of the dark.  Each has

a gift.  Fulfill your gift.  Follow your inner journey.

It is important to have a community of poets so that

each poet can go further.    The Divine Feminine is

more than a man.  Ask her for guidance.  Poetry is

grace & grace is giving.  Learn the tradition of poetry.

Learn & practice the many forms.  Support your fellow

poet.  Be not afraid of the lack of respect poetry gets in

America.  America is not a poetry loving country.  We

are fortunate to have a large community of poetry here

in L.A.  Divine is silence.  Listening & being receptive.

We have had too much of the aggressive cutting into the

other.  Meaning someone who is different from you.

Write poetry as if it is the most important thing in the world.

Because it is.  From Homer & Sappho on, to Whitman &

Emily D.  The epic poets & the Greek Dramatists are the

greatest writers in the history of literature.  Because they

were first.  Ann Stanford & Holly Prado, as well as Hickman

& Thomas McGrath, are among the finest poets from L.A.

Walk the streets of East Hollywood & listen to the Armenians,

Peruvians, Hispanics, blacks, Koreans, whites talk.  Ride the

bus & watch the riders; observe the hookers on Sunset & the

homeless men near Sunset & Vermont, & the homeless black

men who sit on a bus bench at Normandie & Sunset.  Walk

around Echo Park lake & bow & give thanks to the Lady.

Forgive all the ruined men who try to make relationships.

Write poetry from the streets of L.A. & from the halls of

academe.  H.D. is the greatest poet of the Twentieth Century.

She sculpts words on the page.  She is the myth the men made

up.  Demolish myths.  Give the Poet Laureate for the City of

Los Angeles to a man or a woman, any ethnicity, any gender,

any age above voting age, any criminal, librarian, teacher who

is actually real.  Who teaches the personal & the mythic.  Who

is an Advocate for Poetry.  Who has written excellent poetry,

who knows the tradition, who has integrity, self-reliance within

him or her, who knows that the main themes of poetry are life

& death; that the purpose of poetry is to praise & affirm life

(a poet said long ago), that this failure to have a golden shining

cross within me is not apparent to you.


7  1  14

Harry E. Northup



Bob Flanagan’s Birthday Bash

Friday, December 27, 2013 — Bob Flanagan’s Birthday Bash

Last night an audience of about 40 people gathered at Beyond Baroque to celebrate the birthday of Bob Flanagan, poet, performance artist, and musician (1952-1996). Sheree Rose organized the event and introduced each presenter. George Drury Smith, the founder of Beyond Baroque, lead off by commenting that, in the 1980s, he had stopped attending events that honored people who had died. The AIDS crisis took too many of his friends for him to endure the extended mourning of public rituals, but Smith said that last night’s assembly helped him reevaluate his reluctance to participate in these kinds of tributes. In praising Flanagan for his consistent contributions as a workshop leader and a poetic presence in Beyond Baroque’s early days, Smith also reminded the audience of another important figure in the organization’s survival, Alexandra Garrett, who died 20 years ago this coming New Year’s Eve. Smith’s opening remarks were followed by readings of Bob’s poems by Harry Northup, Jim Cushing, Michael C. Ford, Jim Krusoe, myself, and S.A. Griffin, after which Jack Skelley performed a song (“It’s Fun to Be Dead”) that Bob and he had written while they were bandmates in a group called “Planet of Toys.” Sheree capped the evening off by reading a letter from a young gay man in England who also suffers from cystic fibrosis and has found in Bob’s life and art a way to give meaning to his indefatigable suffering. Sheree also screened a slide show of Bob’s performance as well as a portion of a video of one of his last readings. It was a bit odd to have so many male presenters, even though at least a third of the audience was female.

The evening once again raised for me the question of Bob’s inexplicable absence from any of the anthologies that have organized themselves around the notion of “Stand Up” poetry. Several of the poems read at last night’s event generated sustained laughter from the audience. I was surprised, in fact, at how funny the poems still were. “Fear of Poetry,” for instance, which I read from the POETRY LOVES POETRY anthology, required me to improvise at least three unanticipated pauses in the performance so as the let the laughter play out. Flanagan’s poems represent some of the most successful examples of “Stand Up” poetry in the movement’s earliest days. Perhaps the singular blend of eros and thanatos that permeates Bob’s writing made his poetry unwelcome in the milieu of middle-class aspirations that underlie “stand up” ‘s editorial preferences.

Beyond Baroque’s back yard featured one of the best parts of the evening, an exhibition of “Bobaloon,” a twenty-foot tall inflatable figure of Bob with a fiercely erect cock, pierced with the full regalia of priapic masochism. I believe it was Richard Howard who noted in an essay on the poetry of Edward Field that “Stand Up, Friend, with Me (the title of one of Field’s books, which lent itself out to the movement’s name) is a joke on the arousal of the phallus. Bob’s stand-up figure in the back yard served to remind us that any anthology that would title itself “Seriously Funny” seriously needs its editors to start reading up on those who got it all started.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

News outlet reports that the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium would be shutting down its operations cited surprisingly few of the famous music groups and bands that performed at that venue. I was astonished, in fact, that so many substantial figures were left out of the Civic’s history, and began to wonder if the reporters actually had any knowledge (other than newly minted press releases from Santa Monica’s bureaucracy) of how many significant musicians had played there.

Before I had ever gone to a concert there, though, I had heard one of Harry Northup’s early poems, “Listening to Savoy Brown at the Santa Monica Civic.” Harry has graciously given me permission to include his poem, which is dedicated to Paul Blackburn, in this post.


if i if i

if i can       can get

can get       into       in-

to the rhy


rhy     the

rhythm of this

of this

of this


of this song


if i can get into the

rhythm of this song

if i can get

can get

can get

if i can get into the rhythm

if i can get into the rhythm of

this                 of this

of this song

if i can get into the rhythm of this song

there is

there is

a possibility.


aug 21, 1971

By the end of that decade, Patti Smith would be singing on the Civic stage the imperative to “seize the possibility.” The most underappreciated period of recent American poetry is the 1970s on the West Coast. The struggle to comprehend and subsequently seize the possibility of self-definition through small press production has only been partially documented in my book, HOLDOUTS, and a new generation of scholars needs to begin work on excavating the multiple layers awaiting their close reading. Along with the writing of his poet-spouse, Holly Prado (who is also an extraordinary poet). Harry Northup’s poetry needs to have a prominent space made for its vigorous, yet subtle audacity.

I asked Harry about other bands he heard at the Civic and he supplied me with the following list, in which he first praised in particular the music of Savoy Brown:

“I remember clearly how great the band was & in particular,
Kim Simmonds, the lead guitarist.  A great working class English blues band.

“I went to so many shows at the Civic from 1968 to 1973, including “Traffic,”
where I saw & talked with Jon Voight; Bob Marley, whose show was for some reason
transferred from the Shrine — it was like he was running in the sands of time;
The Allman Brothers; The Kinks; Steve Miller; Humble Pie with Steve Mariot —
what a beautiful voice; The Faces with Rod Stewart; Freddy King — the best blues
player — he looked like he had done time; & Van Morrison.  My first wife Rita &
I went, along with a bunch of surfers.” Harry added in a follow-up note that “Stevie Winwood of Traffic had the prettiest voice in rock and roll.”

The Civic was a venue that Harry and I both agree possessed great sight lines. There truly wasn’t a bad seat in the house. There were (and are) very few outlets of that peculiar capacity. Most venues are fairly small or huge stadium affairs. It’s not that easy (for performer or audience member) to find a stage that gives the both sides of the equation a chance to feel comfortable with its size and yet large enough to give a sense of occasion. The Civic did that.

I lived within a half-mile of the Civic for over 20 years. One advantage I had in attending concerts there was avoiding the hassle with parking. It was fairly easy to walk there or to find parking in one of the side-streets, that were blocked off enough from through traffic, so that only those who lived in Ocean Park would know about it.

Harry and I are hardly the only ones, however, who have affectionate memories of the Santa Monica Civic. Dennis Cooper’s diaries (at Special Collections at New York University) record his attendance at a concert by Iggy Pop and the Stooges at the Civic that Cooper regales as one of the highlights of his young life. When Bowie comes on stage as part of the encore, pandemonium (his word, if I recollect correctly) broke out. It wasn’t a riot, however, (or so it seems from Cooper’s description) so much as a moment when the carnivalesque took over, and there was (however briefly) an instance of collective liberation. The entire audience got a glimpse of what Northup had proposed: “a possibility.”

I want to close today’s post with the following list of 30 or so of the memorable concerts I’ve attended in California. Over a third of them were at the Santa Monica, McCabe’s Guitar Shop or Beyond Baroque. Obviously, there are dozens of musicians and composers whose work I never heard in a live setting, but wish I could have heard. I especially wish I could have seen some of the Motown groups. One treasures what fortune has provided. For instance, I only ended up attending the recording of Waits’s live concert because I walked into McCabe’s Guitar Shop and saw free tickets on the front counter. All I had to do was call a number and say I had picked up a ticket at McCabe’s, and I had a seat at a table less than 20 feet from Waits’s piano. I grabbed two “tickets” and called a new friend, Cher’rie Lawrence, and off we went.


Chrissy Hynde and the Pretenders – Santa Monica Civic (Her voice was even more full of timbre than on record.)

Minutemen – Beyond Baroque (as part of Jack Skelley’s Beyond Barbeque Series)

The Residents – Pasadena Concert circa 1984

Elvis Costello – First American Tour – Long Beach Arena; Los Angeles Sports Arena

(“Pump It Up” was his final song in these sets.)

X – The Whiskey A-Go-Go; with the Avengers – summer, 1978.

Among numerous other places I saw X were Club 88 and Santa Monica Civic (with Dave Alvin).

Exene Cervenka – The Alligator Lounge; May 30, 1995; The Prospector (Long Beach)

XTC – The Palladium (“Living through Another Cuba”)

David Bowie – The Forum – Summer, 1978; Anaheim Stadium (with the Go-Go’s)

Paul Simon – Santa Monica Civic – 1973/1974

Hollywood Bowl – Etta James & Solomon Burke (Summer, 2008)

B-52s and The Blasters — Los Angeles.

John Hiatt – Hollywood.

Solomon Burke and Etta James (Hollywood Bowl, 2008)

Tom Waits –  July 30, 1975

Rolling Stones – The Forum – June 11, 1972 (Stevie Wonder opened, and did not get as much applause as he deserved.)

Bill Evans (1929-1980) – San Francisco (with Harley Lond). This concert was in the late 1970s, and when I heard about his death not that much longer after hearing him live, I realized how fortunate I had been to have this one encounter.

Harry Partch – University of California, Los Angeles. Delusion of the Fury

Bob Dylan – Long Beach Civic Auditorium – 2008

(I once walked out on a Dylan concert. It was at a venue in Hollywood in 1978. I can’t recall what he was playing, but it was most certainly not songs from Blood on the Tracks nor his mid-1960s albums. He was listless and seemed merely to be going through the motions.)

Deborah Iyall and Romeo Void – Eureka, CA 1981

Stan Ridgeway and Wall of Voodoo – Santa Monica Civic, 1982

Rickie Lee Jones – Belly Up Tavern, Salerno Beach.

Beck – University of California, San Diego.

Bo Diddley – Redondo Beach club, summer, 1969

Wim Mertens – McCabe’s Guitar Shop (one of my favorite musical performances of all time).

Ray Manzarek  (with Michael C. Ford) – McCabe’s Guitar Shop

Chick Corea – Santa Monica Civic.

Talking Heads – Hollywood Bowl.

Patti Smith –the Roxy (her first show after Horses came out). Santa Monica Civic and Beyond Baroque.

Oingo Boingo – I’m quite sure I saw them live, but can’t remember where. (“Dead Man’s Party” is a classic.)

Suburban Lawns – Santa Monica Civic.

Bruce Springsteen – at least a half-dozen times. Santa Barbara, where he ended with an incredible version of “Jungleland”; Santa Monica Civic; Los Angeles Sports Arena; and the Coliseum.

Of course, there are also concerts I almost heard, but ended up having to leave before the music started. In particular, I was invited by a poet friend, who had an extra ticket, to see Neil Young at the Forum in the mid-1970s. Unfortunately, this person was prone to substance abuse and became ill once we were at the Forum and I had to drive her home before the lights came down.