Tag Archives: Linda Fry

The Poet in “The Painter’s Garden”

July 3, 2017

I visited Jim McVicker a second time in the Eureka-Arcata area back in the mid-1990s, when I flew up there to spend some time with him and Terry Oats at their home, after which we drove together down to San Francisco, where Jim had an exhibition for which I wrote the catalogue copy.

While I was visiting, Jim began working on a painting of their garden, and I suggested that it might work better if he had a figure kneeling at work in the midst of the flowers. I walked along the garden path, crouching at various points, until Jim said, “Stop there.” It was a warm day, but I had a hat on, and the fragrant poise of his garden’s flowers helped me hold a pose long enough for him to render a symbolic votive centered in an enduring cycle of renewal.

I would like to note that Terry is also an exceptionally fine painter herself, and I would consider myself fortunate if someday she were to have the chance to include or feature me in one of her paintings, or if I were to be the subject of a portrait. Let’s put it this way: it’s on my bucket list. In the meantime, my office at school has a large painting of me that was done by Linda several years ago and exhibited at the Department of Art’s galleries in a portrait show. We still haven’t located a truck big enough to haul it back home, so when students walk in my office, they are often initially puzzled by my “office mate.” “Is that you?” “He’s the poet,” I tell them. “I’m the academic. There’s a difference, and I prefer it that way. I hope you’re here to discuss Literature.”

Painter's Garden - DETAIL - WM

(Detail from “The Painter’s Garden,” by Jim McVicker. July, 1996.)

Stucco Shadow Puppets

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shadow Puppet

Mise-en-scene: Bill Mohr
Photograph by Linda Fry

Copyright by Bill Mohr and Linda Fry 2017

Laurel Ann Bogen — “Wings That Which Takes Flight”

When Charles Harper Webb was putting together his first anthology of Stand Up poets, one of his leading choices as a representative figure was Laurel Ann Bogen, whose performances of her poetry over the past forty years have made her a legend in Los Angeles poetry. Along with Linda Albertano and Suzanne Lummis, she has also recited her poems as part of the poetry performance ensemble, Nearly Fatal Women. Her new collection of poetry is a retrospective of her work, “PSYCHOSIS IN THE PRODUCE DEPARTMENT,” which will be officially published by Red Hen Press in April, 2016.

I have obtained her permission, as well as the consent of producer and director Doug Knott, to post a film adaptation of one of her poems, “Wings That Which Takes Flight.” Bogen’s voice is heard in the film, though she does not appear in it.

An Afternoon of the Epigrammatic

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Linda and I got to the Poetic Research Bureau after the first two readers, Aaron Kunin and Vanessa Place, had taken their turns, in part because the transition ramp from the 710 north (from Long Beach) to the 5 Freeway (to downtown LA) was completely shut down for some kind of construction. Fortunately, we were able to loop around on the 60 to get to the 101 and then work our way into Chinatown. Even more fortunately, Guy Bennett happened to be standing on the sidewalk across from the walkway that houses the PRB. After finding a parking lot about two blocks away that let us park the whole afternoon for four dollars, we spotted Aaron Kunin walking just ahead of us and he led us right to the door.

PRB used to be located in Glendale, and I regret that I never was able to attend any of their events there. It’s been in Chinatown for three years now, and I’m equally sorry now that it’s taken me so long to enjoy the programming that A Maxwell has set in motion. We arrived in time to hear all of Guy Bennett’s presentation, which concluded with several sections of his “Self-Evident Poems.” I remember reading a selection of this work in an issue of OR magazine a year or so ago, and enjoying it immensely. First, though, Bennett read definitions by Flaubert and excerpts from “The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts” by Peter Schmidt, followed by renditions of “greguerias” by Ramon Gomez de la Serna, which went over especially well. De la Serna’s witty aphorisms are as profound as anything enunciated by Paul Valery, but the undercurrent of comedy in the “greguerias” gives them an urgency that surpasses Valery’s insightful calculations of the human predicament (cf: Valery’s comment about the angel being puzzled at human laughter).

I doubt that A Maxwell and Maggie Nelson conferred about their selections for the afternoon, but both ended up addressing the relationship of writing to the presence of children in their lives. Maxwell read first about his son’s infancy and then moved into a manuscript that worked in a parallel manner on his daughter’s first year. Nelson, in turn, gave us a sustained extract from a new piece she’s working on about the birth and infancy of her son. At one point, almost in syncopation with Maxwell, she commented on how ridiculous it was for an author to dedicate his or her book to a new-born child. What could such a gesture mean to a person years away from literacy? Maxwell had propitiously set up a context for her question when he commented in his piece that his son was not someone he could say he knew; after all, the child himself does not know who he is. In all these writers, though, what is known is the desire to know.

The afternoon concluded with a reading by Charles Bernstein, who logged on via Skype and regaled us with a quietly impish set of propositions, parodies, and epigrams, all of which proved to be a superb introduction to Bernstein’s work for Linda. “Thought is more resourceful than reality. That is why reality repudiates thought.” “Show me a man with both feet planted firmly on the ground and I’ll show you a man who can’t get his pants on.”

Somewhere between 30 and 40 people seemed to drop in for at least one or two of the readers during the course of the afternoon, which was one of the more satisfying programs I’ve attended in recent years. Though most of the people in the audience were writers themselves, the afternoon was not a mirror trick of imaginative writing. Linda is a painter, not a poet, and she enjoyed it as much as anyone else there.