The latest review of HOLDOUTS

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Joe Safdie wrote a very appreciative review of HOLDOUTS: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992 that Paul Vangelisti published in an issue of OR magazine last spring. Since I started this blog after Safdie’s review was published, the arrival of Mike Sonksen’s enthusiastic endorsement of my literary history of Los Angeles’s poetry communities seems to be an appropriate time to celebrate the continued good fortune of favorable commentary. In posting excerpts from the notices my book has received in the past year and a half, I’d also like to send out a note of appreciation to Noel Kalenian in Colorado, who made a point of including a favorable citation of my book in his job at a library in Denver, Colorado.

“Bill Mohr’s Hold-Outs, published by the University of Iowa Press, fills in the blanks with a multigenerational account of southern California’s literary landscape from 1948 to 1992 that connects the dots between the Cold War, the Beat Generation, the Civil Rights era, the small press movement, punk rock, and the spoken word.  … Mohr’s volume is the only one I’ve seen to connect the movements, mapping out the cultural topography with specific writers, readings, bookstores, and literary magazines. …. Hold-Outs commemorates the small press movement in all its do-it-yourself grandeur yet also demystifies it by showing the social, political, and financial struggles and sacrifices that poets like Wanda Coleman and Leland Hickman had to make in order to survive as writers in contemporary times. Future poets and literary scholars can use this book as both a roadmap and caveat.”

— Mike Sonksen, Southern California Quarterly

“Bill Mohr’s exhaustive and poignant reclamation of the poems, small presses and various poetic communities of Los Angeles over four-plus decades. …. There’s nobody more qualified to conduct this literary anthropological dig than Mohr …. The insights and information – not only about individual poets and communities, but about the grunt work involved in being a typesetter and magazine editor – are priceless. … The more I spent time with Holdouts, the more I realized what an extraordinary gift it was, helping me reclaim some of my own poetic legacy and that of any writer who’s lived on the West Coast in the last half-century.” — Joe Safdie, Or magazine, forthcoming in issue no. 10 (Spring, 2013)

 “Holdouts is the first serious, big-picture consideration of the often ignored or misunderstood post-war L.A. poetry scene. In a book both accessible and authoritative, Mohr tells an essential story of our cultural history with surprising, provocative and poetic insights into place, politics, and the people who contributed to what Mohr argues is an enduring art.” — Andrew Tonkovich, Host, KPFK, “Bibliocracy”; Editor, Santa Monica Review

“Mohr captures this half-century of exuberant creativity in his terrific new book. … Mohr’s account is richly detailed and, with its anecdotes and portraits, a delight to read. The city comes alive through an eclectic and passionate group of people and their writing, publishing, reading and sharing. Further, Mohr’s is a generous and passionate voice, refusing the codify and cement a single history, but determined that there be some acknowledgement of the Los Angeles poetry renaissance and that it at once be part of a legacy, if only to question the limits, exclusions and boundedness of such a term.             — Holly Willis, “Arts and Culture,” KCET (January 17, 2012)

“The history of poetry is the history of change in poetry. … Bill Mohr’s superb Hold-Outs: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance, 1948-1992, (is) as decent a history of the poetry of that period as I’ve come across, whatever the focus.” — Ron Silliman, Weblog, Tuesday 29, 2012

“A dedicated editor and publisher, and now scholar and literary historian, Mohr has made an indelible mark on the city’s literary history.” — Stephen Motika, Palisades Post; (January 20, 2012)



Review by Jim Burns.


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