SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DREAMING: My trip to California in April is shaping up nicely and I just added another reading to my itinerary thanks to Larry Colker and the Redondo Poets. I'll be reading at the Coffee Cartel at Redondo Beach on Tuesday, April 10, at 7:45 p.m. This is such a cool spot and a fantastic reading run by Larry and Jim Doane and I always have a great time there.

Speaking of SoCal poetry, I watched the documentary The Odyssey: Poets, Passion & Poetry over the weekend. Featuring 31 poets riffing on poetics, the doc is a who's who of the LA scene. What a treat to see Suzanne Lummis read (I love her work, but had never seen her perform), the brilliant Brendan Constantine, Wanda Coleman, Luis Campos, Victoria Chang, Catherine Daly, Marie Lecrivain, Elena Byrne, Harryette Mullen and so many other amazing voices. The film was directed by Bob Bryan as part of his ongoing Graffiti Verite Series about everything from art to hip-hop.

Not only do you get to hear the poets talk about what poetry means to them...and the passion they have for the writing...but you get to see full, uncut readings of poems by each of the poets. Snippets are woven into the doc, but there is a separate section where you get the poems in full. Brendan gives a concise history of the chapbook in another featurette. This would be a perfect classroom tool for any teacher wanting to get their students into poetry. It's also a total immersion into the SoCal scene, which I love.

As a director, Bryan seems to have made all the poets comfortable enough to talk honestly about the creation of their work. I loved how Victoria Chang was so honest about her fears of writing too much truth and she wished she could be more fearless in her writing. Catherine Daly plainly admits she has no belief in god or the always elusive "muse", but finds the poems within herself. And I love how Suzanne tries to explain that unexplainable transfer of energy a poet gets when he/she connects with an audience during a reading. A "third thing" is created, she says, but like her, I've never been able to name it either. Perhaps it's just finding connection. Bryan's documentary does that for sure.

You can buy the DVD at or it's available for rent on Netflix. I highly recommend it.


Robert said…
Cool! Maybe I'll see you around the place. I'm featured at the Artist's Union Gallery in Ventura on April 24th - but I'm guessing your trip will have ended by then. Keep me posted about your SoCal travel plans.
i want to do a poetry reading while surfing in SoCal.
Lisa Allender said…
Coll, I usually call that connection, the one between reader and audience-- the "poetry communion"--- between poet and listener, because it feels like a "sacred" event is taking place.

I'm very impressed with who I see/hear coming out of SoCal...Will be great to see this documentary--THANK YOU for Bloggin' 'bout it!

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