Poetry for Southern California


Marie Lecrivain Guest Editorial










Proud to Be an L.A. Poet  (she says with a straight face...)

By Marie Lecrivain

First of all, I hope every poet out there will have a safe and happy holiday season.

Second, I want to thank Richard Modiano for inviting me to spout my opinions on ANY poetry topic of my choice. Richard, you are a trusting soul! I will do that by sharing seven reasons why I am grateful to be an L.A. poet. You, the reader, are free to agree or disagree, but the opinions expressed in this essay are mine alone, and the only ones that matter! (Joking!)

1. DIVERSITY: Los Angeles has, because of it's freakish and fractured geography, a poetry event going on EVERY night of the week. It's the nature of an urban dystopia like L.A. to display its excess, even in poetry, but in lieu of an actual social life, the attendance of two or three readings a week will inevitably transform a poet into a social butterfly.

Here are a few options: Green (Culver City) on Mondays; Cobalt (Canoga Park), Da Poetry Lounge (Los Angeles near the Fairfax District), and The Coffee Cartel (Redondo Beach) on Tuesdays; The World Stage (Crenshaw) and Velvet Guerilla Lounge (Santa Monica) on Wednesdays; Horse of Another Color (Mar Vista) on Thursdays; The Rapp Saloon (Santa Monica), the Open Mic at Tia Chucha Café (Sylmar), and Mud Puppy (Pasadena) on Fridays; The Daisy Standard at Dutton's Bookstore (Beverly Hills) and the Open Mic at Barnes and Noble (Encino) on third and fourth Saturdays (respectively); and finally, the First Sunday of the Month Open Mic and Features Reading, as well as Poets Beyond the Half Shell at Beyond Baroque (Venice) on the first and third Sundays (respectively).

Note: Information on all of these readings, and many more, can be found on the Poetix.net Calendar and Venues pages.

2. REINVENTION: In Los Angeles (or anywhere Madonna calls home), each poet has a chance to reinvent herself. I am living proof: Four and a half years ago, I started off as an angry, ranting, femi-Nazi poet. But, with a lot of hard work, I have become a well-established, somewhat respected, widely feared, poetry overlord of the second degree...as proclaimed by my lovely boss Mindy Nettifee, editor-in-chief of Get Underground. Who knows what my next incarnation will be?

3. CONTINUITY: Since entering the poetry scene, I have met several generations of poets who still, or have at one time, call(ed) Los Angeles their home: John Harris, FrancEyE, Joy Buckley, Jack Shafer, Wanda Coleman, Steve Goldman, Holly Prado, Harry Northup, Sarah Maclay, Jeanette Clough, David St. John, Jawanza Dumisani, Philomene Long, Larry Colker, Pete Justus, Michael C. Ford, Phoebe MacAdams, Michelle Daugherty, Luis Campos, Imani Tolliver, Luis Rodriguez, Larry Jaffe, S.A. Griffin, Richard Beban, Kaaren Kitchell, R. D. Armstrong, Ellyn Maybe, Amélie Frank, Carlye Archibeque, Brendan Constantine, Elizabeth Iannaci, Rafael F.J. Alvarado, Richard Modiano, Steve Abee, Rachel Kann, Bridget Gray, E. Amato, and many others. Their contributions will (and do) inspire those who come after to keep the poetry scene alive and kicking.

4. FRIENDSHIP: In the 14 years I have resided here, I have worked in other artistic environments. It's only been in the poetry scene that I have found not only true and lasting friendship, but also some of the greatest artistic expression that will stay in my heart, no matter where I will end up.

5. INSTANT HIPNESS FACTOR: My poet friends in Canada, Japan, England, Ireland, Romania, Michigan, and Alabama automatically assume that being an L.A. poet is DA BOMB! (I haven't said otherwise, but sometimes the truth hurts!)

6. THE MTA AS MUSE: I haven't experienced other forms of public transportation, and I take a LOT of flack for this, but I am grateful for the colorful parade of circus freaks, saints and sinners I ride with every day I board the bus. Some of my best writing has come from years of eavesdropping on conversations, witnessing (or taking part) in confrontations, or all those times I just fixated on one fascinating weirdo, and then let my imagination take wing to escape the boredom that comes with riding the same crummy bus route day after day, for years at a time.

7. ORANGE COUNTY/VENTURA/SANTA BARBARA ADJACENT: If the tsunami of poetry events cannot satisfy your palate, then here is an alternative:

  • Go to the Venues page on Poetix.net and pick a venue.
  • Find two more poets, and then find one more poet with a car. You and the two other poets must chip in for gas.
  • Drive to the venue. On the way, play silly songs or read each other poetry. Stop for lunch at a beach-side café.
  • When you get to the reading, remember to put your best poetic foot forward. You are representin' L.A.!

Anyway, these are my reasons to be grateful for being an L.A. poet. If anyone can think of better reasons, let me know. We can take the fight behind the shed.:)

Copyright © 2006 M. Lecrivain

Marie Lecrivain is the executive editor and publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, and is a writer in residence at her apartment. Her prose and poetry have appeared/will appear in a number of literary journals, including: 400 Words, Earth's Daughters, Falling Star, The Homestead Review, Matrix, The Other Voices International Project, Poetry Salzburg Review, Re)verb, Stationaery, Triplopia, Wisteria: A Journal of Haiku, Senryu, & Tanka, and in the anthologies Literary Angles: the second year of poeticdiversity (Sybaritic Press 2005), and Silent Voices Vol. II (Ex Machina Press 2006). Marie is a contributing writer for Subtle Tea, the poetix editor for get underground, and her debut collection of short stories, Nihilistic Foibles, was released in Summer 2006 by Sybaritic Press. Her short story, "The Word Thief" was recently nominated for a 2007 Pushcart Prize by Ex Machina Press.