Heading to Olympic Valley, Looking Back 50+ years

I first heard of a place called “Squaw Valley” in 1960, when at the age of 12 I watched the American hockey team win the gold medal by defeating the Russian team, 3-2. Fourteen years later, I heard about a one-week writers’ conference that featured Michael McClure and Kathleen Fraser. Other poets who attended included Gary Soto, Gary Young, and Suellen Mayfield.

Fifty years later, with two chapters of a draft of a memoir completed, I headed back to what is now called “Olympic Valley” to bear down on the writing and to get some feedback on the project from David Ulin. It was a productive week, and I want to thank group #9 for sharing their works-in-progress with me and for their comments, which led me to reconsider the pertinence of a draft of a short chapter I’d written many years ago entitled “Ice Milk.”

I hope to have a complete first draft of my memoir about Momentum Press done by mid-November. I’m a slow writer, so this is a very ambitious schedule. There’s nothing like looking in the mirror and seeing how much differently one looks than one did thirty years ago to realize how little time is left to complete all that remains unfinished in one’s life.

I’m happy to report, though, that tasks are getting checked off. I just sent Michael Docherty the final revisions on a chapter on the “renegade” poetry of Los Angeles for his upcoming volume. for the Cambridge Companion Series.

Onward, indeed, with assiduous haste, even as I look back on a life far different than anyone who knew me in 1960 might ever have expected. It’s even a more improbable outcome than the victory of the American hockey team in 1960. Of course, such a transformation involves a “team effort,” and everything listed below would not have come to pass without the friends and comrades listed in a blog entry on June 18th.


William Mohr, Ph.D.
Professor / Department of English, California State University, Long Beach
WEBSITE: koankinship.com. /. BLOG: billmohrpoet.com

Act One (1970-2000)
Poems and reviews published in over three dozen magazines, including Antioch Review, Santa Monica Review, Sonora Review, Blue Mesa Review, Zyzzyva, Beyond Baroque New, Hungry Mind Review, Bachy, and Invisible City, as well as in Hidden Proofs Bombshelter Press, 1982.)

Vehemence (Lawndale: New Alliance Records, March, 1993). 36 track solo project. Compact disc and cassette spoken word collection. Produced by Harvey Robert Kubernik in association with SST Records (founder, Greg Ginn, bass player for Black Flag.) Tracks highlighted by KCRW’s Liza Richardson.

Editor/Publisher: Momentum Press (1974-1988). This work was supported by four grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as additional support from the Atlantic Richfield Foundation and the California Arts Council. The Momentum Press archives were purchased by the University of California, San Diego’s Geisel Library in 1996.

Visiting Scholar, Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles), Fall, 1995.

California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence 1982-1984

Put Your Ears On: a poetry video show. 1990-1998. Producer and host. Century Cable Network.

Act Two (2000-2024)
George Drury Smith Award. Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Venice, CA. 2014.

Literary archives (1970-2020) purchased by the University of California, San Diego’s Geisel Library Special Collections in 2023.

Displacements. Los Angeles: Magra Press. 2024. A chapbook of prose poems and a dramatic monologue.

The Headwaters of Nirvana Reassembled Poems. Los Angeles: What Books. 2018. This full-length, bilingual volume of poems is an expanded selection of the work done by my translators in Mexico, earlier in the decade. That collection, Pruebas Ocultas (Bonobos Editores, 2015) was chosen as one of the two dozen best books of poetry published in Mexico in 2015 by a panel of Mexican critics.

Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992 (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2011). Book reviews of Holdouts appeared in American Literary Scholarship (2013); Western American Literature (2013); and Southern California Quarterly (2013).

Bittersweet Kaleidoscope. (Los Angeles: If Publications, 2006). 21 poems, 37 pages.

Poems, critical articles, and essays appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), Chicago Review, OR magazine, William Carlos Williams Review, Journal of Beat Studies, Trampoline; Anacapa Review; Hummingbird; Bloomsbury Handbook of Contemporary American Poetry; Blue Collar Review, SPOT Literary Magazine, Miramar. Caliban on-line, Pool, KYSO and Stand Up Poetry; An Expanded Anthology, edited by Charles Harper Webb (University of Iowa Press, 2002), as well as Cambridge Companion chapters.

Writing translated into Spanish, Croatian, and Italian. Poems selected for over a dozen anthologies.

Frequent participant and contributor to conferences organized by the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA), American Literature Association (ALA, and the Modern Language Association. Keynote lectures delivered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; UCLA; and in Mexico City, Mexico, and Dijon, France. Featured poet at several dozen venues, including festivals.

photo: Jane Bullen

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