“Topanga Messenger” Poetry Contest

Topanga Canyon was the northernmost outpost of Venice West back in the 1950s, a refuge created in particular by Wallace Berman. Over the years, I met a few people who lived there, but never became familiar with the community. The closest I came to spending time there was when I hiked in Topanga State Park, though I recollect those walks with great fondness. As a tribute to that period in my life, which I shared with Cathay Gleeson, I will be donating a copy of “Holdouts” as a prize to a poetry contest being held by the “Topanga Messenger,” a newspaper that serves the Topanga residents.


 The  Rules—Submissions are due on or before June 1, and winners will be announced in the July 2 issue. Please send two unpublished poems (no epics, please) to editor@topangamessenger.com. All copyrights revert to the owner upon publication.

First, Second and Third prizes, are as follows:

First Prize: $25 and Rick Lupert’s latest book, “The Gettysburg Undress:  Poems from Gettysburg, PA, Washington, DC, Richmond, VA, Baltimore, MD., and Environs.”

Second Prize: “Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992,” by Bill Mohr (University of Iowa Press, 2011), his account of Los Angeles’s poetic communities.

Third Prize: “Madness, Rack and Honey,” by Mary Rueffle, a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award.

Jurors: Rick Lupert (poetrysuperhighway.com), Jean Colonomos and Topanga Library Manager Oleg Kagan.

The Prompt: A Poem of Place—Topanga Canyon is unique in Los Angeles, a refuge for artists in the ‘60s that has yet to shed its bohemian enclave reputation. (Nor should it.) When you visit, you know you are there. You may find comfort in that; or you may feel an itch to retreat to something more familiar. Perhaps you feel the same about your home or a particular place. Write a poem of place. It can be a place you love and are supremely comfortable in, or the complete opposite. Speak to the unique identity of that place, even if that identity is exclusive to your perception of it. You can paint a complete picture, or hone in on a minute detail. Be brave, be funny. Show us your Topanga. Take us to that place.

Entry Fee: None.




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