So the Important poet and I have been continuing to e-mail and, among other things, I was reminded that my standards for which poets should get features (a mixture of various types--and sometimes skill levels) aren't correct ones. I would allow too much--the horror, the horror--mediocrity to be put on display.
Along with that axiom, I was reminded that if poets aren't able to get features at venues where, say, Red Hen Press authors, Pushcart Prize winners and RATTLE (or other literary magazine) editors are favored (including most of the remaining "coffeehouse" readings), then it means the poets should write "better."
I know I'm showing my stupidity/naivete/lack of undertanding again, but it seems to me that a big, diverse city like Los Angeles ought to have a more diverse small-reading scene than it does.
But chasing prestige (or being in the presence of it) is paramount with a lot of people now.
And so the poetry scene in Los Angeles will continue to be exclusive and secretsecret--with the late Hyperpoets reading at Venice's Rose Cafe being the template for the high-toned, often too-dry and too-self-consciously "I'm writing TRUE poetry, as any fool can see" artistic desert.