Speechless the Magazine

 To render. Be rendered. Awestruck. Awesome.
A magazine of poetry and related arts straight from L.A.

 

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Beyond Baroque board member Richard Modiano's selection of movie poems, translations, and exotica

Beyond Baroque board member Amélie Frank's mini- anthology of movie poems from the L.A. scene:
Rafael F. J. Alvarado
Carlye Archibeque
Laurel Ann Bogen
Brendan Constantine
Erica Erdman
Amélie Frank
S.A. Griffin
Claudia Handler
Elizabeth Iannaci
Ron Koertge
Ray Lanthier
Philomene Long
Matthew Niblock
Harry Northup
Marc Olmsted
Scott Wannberg

 

Guest Star

 

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center

By Fred Dewey, Director

Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center is based near the beach in Los Angeles' old Venice City Hall, built 1906. The Center offers an extensive program of public readings, free workshops, a project room, bookstore, publications, and chapbook/small press archive. During our nearly forty years in Venice, we have nurtured and presented many of the best writers, artists, and poets from the West Coast, around the country, and world. The Center is unique for its combined range of activities, constantly moving back and forth between the underground and the literary and artistic establishments.

In a town focused on Hollywood and the music industry, Beyond Baroque has charted an independent, non-commercial path, emphasizing the live experience of challenging art and poetry in an intimate, focused atmosphere. We pride ourselves on enabling poets and artists to envision and present their work outside usual social hierarchies, in an egalitarian and welcoming atmosphere. The Center, continually reinventing itself, has provided a home and incubator for countless styles and approaches, based on its founding spirit from the free-form late 1960s. Many now-famous writers read with us early; others have received celebrations by the community gathering in appreciation of a life's work. The Center's peer-based workshop program, where writers of all kinds can gather year round, week after week, for free, is unique not only on the West Coast but nationally.

Begun in 1968 with a newsprint 'zine titled Beyond Baroque, printed and distributed free in an edition of 20,000 by founder George Drury Smith, Beyond Baroque started as a meeting place, with workshops and space for readings, art, and music. The workshops, over the years, have generated numerous writers, presses, and some of the leading poets in Los Angeles. The facilitators have included founders Joe Hansen and John Harris, Leland Hickman, Bob Flanagan, John Thomas, Will Alexander, Jeff McDaniel, Philomene Long, Simone Forti, Sarah Maclay, liz gonzález, and others. The Center's first librarian was Exene Cervenka of the band X, which was formed when Exene and John Doe met at the Wednesday Night Poetry Workshop. Some of world-famous LA artist Mike Kelley's first performances were at the Center, and the cover of one of the Center's early issues of Beyond Baroque, featuring an array of experimental filmmakers, was displayed in the Pompidou's 2006 show on LA art.

The Center archives chapbooks, small-press poetry and experimental fiction and sells them (an index of our chapbook archive is on line). Our reading series, featuring over 200 writers a year, has included Christopher Isherwood, Allen Ginsberg, Raymond Carver, John Ashbery, Amiri Baraka, Philip Levine, Ed Dorn, Wanda Coleman, CK Williams, Lewis MacAdams, James Tate, Alice Notley, Patti Smith and thousands of others both famous and infamous. Center series include experimental music, film screenings, and visual art. The Center has facilitated or organized festivals, including the citywide World Beyond Festivals, with the World Stage and other LA organizations, and the Beyond Text Festivals, with LACMA and others. Its yearly event with the LA Poetry Festival, the Younger Poets, has consistently presented the best emerging voices from around the LA region, at the Downtown central Library. In addition to on-site work, the Center has curated and organized permanent public art projects highlighting Los Angeles poets, including the Poetry Walls on the Venice Boardwalk and the lobby of the Junipero Serra State Office Building downtown.

Publications that have come out of the Center, some originally through its typesetting facilities, include Momentum Press, edited by Bill Mohr, Little Caesar edited by programs curator Dennis Cooper, a series edited by David Trinidad, the magazine Forehead edited by Benjamin Weissman, also a readings curator, and more. The Center's imprint was launched in 1998 by Fred Dewey and has published fourteen books, including works by Eve Wood, Majid Naficy, Philomene Long, Nancy Agabian, Simone Forti, K. Curtis Lyle, Benjamin Hollander, and Ammiel Alcalay, along with anthologies from both the Wednesday Workshop, the World Stage, and several magazines featuring challenging writing and art from around the country and the world, including the recent TRUTH Etc, with works by Jean-Luc Godard, Wanda Coleman, Jack Hirschman, Christoph Dreager, Diane di Prima, David Meltzer, Sesshu Foster, Ammiel Alcalay, Yan Li, and more.

The Center's staff and board have historically included writers and artists, from the Center's founding by Smith, an experimental fiction writer, in 1968, through key programming figures including Manazar Gamboa, Dennis Cooper, Dennis Philips, Amy Gerstler, Benjamin Weissman, and the current director, Fred Dewey.

***

Our offering on this website was curated by two board members, Amélie Frank and Richard Modiano, both poets and publishers of poetry, and is an example of the Center's support for local grassroots activity and the effort to contextualize poetry and writing, in this case in relationship to film. Film and poetry have a complicated and rich relationship, especially in Los Angeles, where the dominance of mass culture is pervasive. We pride ourselves on presenting an alternative to this, as well as continually seeking to define what an alternative might be.

We hope you enjoy our part here in the dialogue between two very different yet related mediums. For that, we propose a quote from Muriel Rukeyser's 1949 Life of Poetry:

Our experience, set in our time in the world, may be shared through any art. We are ready for the pictures of our true life, we are ready for the poems of our true life.

You can find us on the web at www.beyondbaroque.org or at 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA, 90291. Our bookstore and archive are open Fridays and around events.

We look forward to seeing you or hearing from you soon!

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Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach