Poetry Workshop with Sarah Maclay in Los Angeles

Since it has been several years since the excellent master class in poetry I took with Suzanne Lummis through the UCLA Extension, I decided it was time to get myself back into a workshop. Even though Sarah has recently accepted a position with Loyola Marymount University to teach creative writing, she still conducts small private workshops in her home. It was great to exercise my poetic thinking in this way again with Sarah and six of her monthly “regulars”. If you are serious about advancing your craft and are in the LA area, I highly recommend these workshops. And if you’re a student at LMU studying creative writing, you are in for a treat.

Happy 40th Anniversary to (Cafe) SOLO

I had the privilege of attending a celebration of (Cafe) SOLO and its patron saint, Glenna Luschei tonight at the Artists’ Union Gallery in Ventura. Hosted by its principal editors, Kevin Patrick Sullivan, Chryss Yost, and Jackson Wheeler, the event celebrating a magnificent forty years of publication featured forty poets published in this iconic literary periodical. Poets gathered here to read from Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo counties as well as one poet from New York. Just a few of the remarkable readers gathered this evening included: the omnipresent Richard Beban, Doris Vernon, Enid Osborne, Teka-Lark Lo, Mel Weisberg, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Barry Spacks, and my own master class teacher and the coordinator of the LA Poetry Festival, Suzanne Lummis. Poets spoke of and paid tribute to the generous spirit of Glenna Luschei and the achievement of such a long run of such a venerable and significant publication. The place was packed, the night was warm. I’m told the cake was excellent. Better still, the poetry, the spirit of the place, and the celebration.

A Crisis of the Personal in Poetry?

I’ve been following some of Ron Silliman’s recent posts about the effect he and Gabe Gudding have been tracing of “McPoem” — cookie-cutter work based on personal experience churned out through the business of MFA programs — on the course of poetry in the past thirty years. Ron’s musings on Gudding seem to imply a strong connection between, “self-expression as a means of growth” and poems expressed badly. I don’t know the inner workings of the multitude of MFA programs available today, but from personal experience as a modern writer navigating the straits between sentimentalism and just mentalism, I can relate to and speak to the notion that poetry should be personal.

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