“Why go on without such a family”: Poets Reading at Page Against the Machine

After visiting three art studios in Long Beach on the first day of a weekend “Open Studio” tour, Linda and I sauntered over to Page Against the Machine. It was the shortest trip I’ve ever made to read poems in public. Less than a hundred and fifty yards. This gathering of poets was organized by the primary editor of BEAT, NOT BEAT, Rich Ferguson. It was a special pleasure to be reading with Eric Morago, the publisher and chief editor of Moontide Press.

Rich Ferguson asked each of the readers to start with their own poem and then read a poem by another poet in BEAT, NOT BEAT. After reading “Good Work, If You Can Get It,” I chose to read Cassandra Dallett’s “Jails Have ATM Machines Now.” I’d never heard of Dallett before encountering her poem in BNB, but her poem is one of the truly memorable poems I have read in recent years. From henceforth, I will never see a tube of chapstick and not think of Ms. Dallett’s poem. Rich Ferguson also asked me, toward the end of the evening’s presentation, to read one additional poem, Jack Hirschman’s “Path.” Other poems that were selected and read included Yvonne de la Vega’s “I Write and I Fuck”; Wanda Coleman’s “O Soul Concealed Below”; Larry Colker’s “Crossing Over (Exhibit 204)”; Gerald Locklin’s “Iceberg Lettuce”; and Holly Prado’s “For Poets in Autumn.”

Kevin Ridgeway read his “Social Distance” with such passion that I was too startled to take a photograph of him, but in the group photograph afterward, we stood alongside each other with gratitude for having been part of such a fine reading. The only thing that was missing is for Rich Ferguson to read his own poem, “When Brought In For Questioning.”

Rich Ferguson

Bill Mohr and Rich Ferguson

Clint Margrave

Luivette Resto


Aruni Wijesinghe

Peggy Dobreer

Joan Jobe Smith Voss

Eric Morago




(The bottom two photographs, as well as the photograph of Bill Mohr reading, are by Linda Fry.

All other photographs are by Bill Mohr.

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