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December 21, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
In 2006, musician Michael Zapruder boarded the Wave Books Poetry Bus in North Carolina and spent a week riding through the South. Among the poets with whom he traveled were his brother, Matthew, an editor at Wave (a leading poetry publisher, based in Seattle), as well as D.A. Powell, Bob Hicok, Dorothea Lasky and Mary Ruefle. The idea behind the bus tour was to bring poetry to its readers by making it accessible in the most public way. Poetry, after all, remains on a fundamental level aural, a form in which meaning is as much a matter of sound, of music and rhythm, as it is of the content of the words.
December 17, 2012 | By Carolyn Kellogg
Poet Jake Adam York, 40, died unexpectedly Sunday. The news was reported by colleagues at a number of venues that had published his work, including the New England Review, the blog of Best American Poetry and the Kenyon Review. They did not report the cause of death. York , an associate professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, was the author of three collections of poetry and a book of literary history. He had recently been named a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in poetry for 2013.
December 14, 2012 | By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic
A translucent, animated condom filled with red candy hearts is an animated protagonist in Jordan Wolfson's marvelous video installation at REDCAT, the New York-based artist's solo debut in Los Angeles. Projected onto a white screen suspended on the diagonal in a white room carpeted in wall-to-wall white rug, the non-narrative video feels unmoored and adrift in a languorous state of liquid reverie. We soon float along with it. "Raspberry Poser" -- the title conjures Prince -- is in effect a 14 1/2-minute music video.
December 11, 2012 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Something important is said in "Murderous Little World. " But what? This is Canadian composer Linda Bouchard's music theater collaboration with several of her country's exceptional artists. She has based her work on seven poems from Anne Carson's "Men in the Off Hours. " The 68-minute work, which premiered in Vancouver last month and reached REDCAT on Monday night, includes enigmatic video by Yan Breuleux and Frédéric St-Hilaire. It features a versatile three-man ensemble of brass and accordion - Bellows and Brass - that pretty much blew me away.
December 7, 2012 | By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
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 | By John Penner
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 | By John Penner, Los Angeles Times
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 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
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 | By Carolyn Kellogg
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 | By Sharon Mizota
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.
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