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Poetry bus to swing through L.A.

September 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Poetry fans, keep an eye out this fall for a Green Tortoise bus.

Look beyond the bookstore or campus lecture hall. Try a ranch in Missoula, Mont.; a sushi bar in Spokane, Wash.; or a church in Providence, R.I. Peek inside this 40-foot coach, if you dare, and expect to find beds, seating areas, work stations and, at any given time, a couple of dozen road-tested poets.

The 2006 Poetry Bus Tour, which plans stops in Southern California in October, is a voyage of verse that will cover 50 cities in 50 days, a pace that could wear out the most experienced politician or rock star. The tour is being organized by Seattle-based Wave Books.

"When my first book ['Things Are Happening'] came out, I went on a 50-stop tour, just by myself, in my car," says poet Joshua Beckman, an editor at Wave Books and co-founder of the tour with fellow poet and Wave Bookseditor Matthew Zapruder. "It reminded me of the way musicians would tour: When you put something creative out, you drove around and showed it to people. And my experience on that first tour was so interesting, just going to all those places and meeting people. I kept looking to expand on it and share it with other people."

The tour, which includes Wave and non-Wave poets, begins Labor Day at the Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle and wraps up in late October at Seattle's Space Needle. It makes stops at CalArts in Valencia on Oct. 19 and at the Museum of Natural History in L.A. on Oct. 20. An evolving cast of poets, from eminences such as John Ashbery to writers who have yet to be published, will join and leave along the way.

Some, like the 79-year-old Ashbery and fellow Pulitzer Prize-winner James Tate, will simply participate in readings. Others will stick around longer, like 31-year-old Cole Heinowitz, who plans to spend two nights on the bus in October.

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