CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2012 |
Before sitting down for tea in Echo Park, the poet reaches for her iPhone. "I have to turn this thing off," she explains, silencing the ringer. "It's getting too noisy these days. " As a publisher, educator and author of seven books of poems, Eloise Klein Healy is a stalwart of the Los Angeles literary scene. Her phone has been buzzing more than usual in recent weeks as she prepares to take on a new title. On Friday, Healy will be named L.A.'s first poet laureate. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa decided earlier this year that his city, like others, should have a namesake poet.
November 13, 2012 |
The poet Jack Gilbert, who had been battling dementia for many years, died Tuesday in Berkeley. He was 87. Gilbert -- who was featured in Monday's L.A. Times -- had been in frail condition at a nursing home for several years before he developed pneumonia over the last couple of days, and he succumbed early this morning, said Bill Mayer, a poet and longtime friend. Mayer was among a group who kept a vigil at Gilbert's side during his final hours. Fellow Bay Area poets Larry Felson and Steven Rood were among the group, as was Louise Gregg, the sister of the poet Linda Gregg, who was closest to Gilbert and knew him almost from the beginning of his 50-year writing career.
November 12, 2012 |
BERKELEY - In a spacious, humane skilled-nursing home, a man sits with his elderly neighbors arrayed in their wheelchairs as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald sing. Several guests arrive to see the man, and after the last note of "Cheek to Cheek," one of them takes up a microphone and reads a poem. The reader, startled by a resident's pained moans of distress, stumbles over a word or two of "Looking at Pittsburgh From Paris. " He finishes, and the man brightens in his chair and points at his heart, mouthing to a visitor holding his arm, "Me?"
November 9, 2012 |
For the last week or so, I've been leisurely reading my way through “Pushcart Prize XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses” (Pushcart Press: 652 pages, $18.95 paper), the 37th annual collection of Pushcart Prize winning essays, stories and poems from America's independent publishers and literary magazines. I've had a love of these anthologies for 25 years - for their diversity, their range of expression, and also for their commitment to writing and publishing in a culture where the values of literature - not to mention the values of independent thinking - are often regarded as passé or naïve.
October 27, 2012 |
Poet Sylvia Plath was born on this day in 1932. Had she not committed suicide in 1963, she would have been 80 years old today. Although she was just 30 years old when she died, Plath's poetry has had lasting appeal. The Poetry Foundation writes that she has "tightly-tuned, startling verses. " Much of those were written toward the end of her life and published in her collection "Ariel. " Posthumously published with some assitance from her husband, the poet Ted Hughes, "Ariel" caused a splash with both its creativity and the questions it raised about the way Hughes, from whom she had separated, had shaped her work.
October 15, 2012 |
Mary Weatherford is known for beautiful abstract paintings derived from natural forms, but her latest exhibition at LAXART is a big risk. As in previous series, these large paintings (nearly too large actually, for LAXART's main gallery) are inspired by a specific place, Bakersfield, where Weatherford recently completed a residency. They are not landscapes per se, but more like mood poems: rough-edged, vertical rectangles composed of thin, delicate washes of color. Luminous on their own, the colors are literally lighted by startling lines, rendered in actual tubes of neon affixed to the canvases.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 5, 2012 |
The poet was a familiar figure, striding through Little Saigon, sipping tea, sharing wisdom, his head covered with his trademark fedora. He liked to read through the night, not too tired to dissect a bit of homeland politics. He lived simply, renting rooms in other people's homes, wearing the same suits for appearances, offering thanks for gifts of fruit and books. Early Tuesday, he died just as quietly in a Santa Ana hospital after suffering chest pain. Nguyen Chi Thien, 73, the acclaimed author of "Flowers From Hell," was revered for his modesty and creativity, thriving through 27 years of imprisonment, much of it in isolation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 23, 2012 |
"A poet," Louis Simpson once wrote, "should wish for enough unhappiness to keep him writing. " Simpson may not have wished for trouble, but he kept writing for 60 years - spare, powerful poems about war, infidelity, suburban alienation and other modern ailments that brought a Pulitzer Prize and wide recognition as a perceptive, if cynical, analyst of the American dream. A native Jamaican of Scottish and Russian descent, Simpson died in his sleep Sept. 14 in Stony Brook, N.Y. He was 89 and had Alzheimer's disease, said his daughter, Anne B. Simpson.
September 21, 2012 |
Silver Lake resident Peleg Top erected a real estate flier dispenser in front of his home and filled it with 30 copies of one of his poems. To his surprise, the poetry box was an instant hit. “I filled the box on a Saturday, and by Monday they were gone,” Top said. So for the last three months, the business coach and life mentor has been filling the box weekly with poems, some written by Top, others by his husband, Rick Hoyt, and still others by poet friends. Sometimes, Top said, poems just happen to come into his life.
September 18, 2012 |
This post has been updated. See note below for details. Bob Dylan famously called Smokey Robinson “America's greatest living poet” for the exquisite beauty, pain and affection in lyrics to “Tracks of My Tears,” “Tears of a Clown” and so many other songs Robinson wrote and sang during his heyday at Motown in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, Robinson's ready to share a side of his poetry largely separated from music in “Words,” a spoken-word program built around several long-form poems that Robinson will present in a pair of shows this weekend in North Hollywood.