Friday, April 29, 2011

Beyond Baroque Literary/ Arts Center: Beyond Baroque is a literary arts center and this ...

[Reprinting this mission statement from the Beyond Baroque blog]

Beyond Baroque Literary/ Arts Center: Beyond Baroque is a literary arts center and this ...: "Beyond Baroque is a literary arts center 1) Advancing public awareness of and involvement in contemporary literary arts; 2) Providing..."

Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood apparently getting a mixed-use venue makeover.

Here's Jeffrey Wells take on the Elie Samaha/Don Kushner purchase of Grauman's Chinese from Warner Bros./Viacom:

Contrast the above with LA TIMES lapdog Richard Verrier's article:

Key passage from the Verrier article:

The single-screen Grauman's -- known for its giant, red Chinese pagoda, signature Chinese dragon guard dogs at the entrance and cement block footprints and hand prints of famous Hollywood figures -- was declared a historic and cultural landmark in 1968.
Neither Samaha nor Kushner were immediately available to discuss their plans for the theater, but one person familiar with the matter said the theater will continue to screen movies and host premieres and that the new owners plan to upgrade food and beverage services.
It's a fact of life that old movie palaces die in Los Angeles to be reborn as churches, nightclubs or concert venues.
So let's say RIP to Grauman's Chinese as it was and await the new era with mixed emotions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TRIBUTE TO POET GARY JACKSON inside-poetry site I only discovered after its demise.

Reprinting a portion of the goodbye letter (highlighting by me)--and looking forward to thoroughly reading the archives available on the site in the weeks to come:
We believe we have made an impact on the PoBiz and helped bring some much needed attention to the fraud, favor-trading, and corruption that have led to the marginalization and commodification of American poetry and the homogenization of its poets. has done all it can do in its present form. It has chiseled a small crack in the facade of the academic poetry industry, and allowed people to peer in on the poet-making machinery. What we saw was almost universally dissatisfying. But we were not all of one mind regarding what to do about this dissatisfaction. We, as poets, had never dealt with issues of ethics, activism, and philosophy before . . . not within our own little space of ambitions and inspirations and pecking orders. Not within our own tribe.

It's always hard to see clearly how one's own tribe functions. We are still trying to understand the relationships among personal ambition, tribal order, and money-flow (in the PoBiz). has helped us realize that these relationships and their long-term impacts cannot be left in the shadow of our ignorance. Not if the art (as opposed to merely the product) of poetry is to survive.

But the subtler understanding of these relationships and their impact on the social order of poets as well as on the artistic quality and self-definition of American poetry is still slowly evolving. Our tribe (American poets and PoBiz consumers), has not decided if or how to come out of its cave yet. But that small puncture in the wall made by and the many others who have raised their voices against the current system of poetry production (the PoBiz) is letting a little light in.

We hope this light will be an aid . . . that it will indicate a way out, a way through, a way to change. When we are ready.

Until that time comes, find a way to keep fighting the good fight. Don't give up. Don't expect someone else to do it for you. Believe in the value of your voice, in your outrage, in your desire for change. In your ability to make things happen.

Our Gratitude, Love, and Support,

Matt Koeske, Management

Alan Cordle, Founder

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anis Shivani on NEW YORK TIMES poetry critic David Orr's new book.

A particularly interesting passage from Shivani's review:

The major problem with regard to politics and poetry, it seems to me, is that contemporary American poets have generally decided to be apolitical. Sometimes they go out of their way to inject politics into their poetics--as on the occasions of Bush's wars or Obama's election or the Hurricane Katrina disaster--but they quickly retreat, are uncomfortable with the posture, and as a lot believe that poetry should have no business engaging with politics. A political worldview tends to saturate poetry from other regions of the world, even when the poetry is not explicitly political. There are explicit institutional reasons why poetry with a political attitude is verboten.
At the same time, poetry with a political charge has never ceased being written in America, despite the onslaught of confessionalism. I'm just reading Tony Trigilio's Historic Diary and the young poet Harmony Holiday's Negro League Baseball, and have been rereading Amiri Baraka's early poetry, as politically resonant as anything one can read today. It remains true, however, that American poetry--like American literature in general--is shy of class and economics, and this is the biggest question to be addressed with respect to politics and poetry.
Here's one more (and likely controversial) section of the review, relating to the now-and-forever practice of poetry incest:
Some years ago the website exposed the obvious corruption in small and university press poetry book publication (almost all first books are published through contests), where well-known poets like Jorie Graham judged in favor of their friends or students. This, actually, is only the tip of the iceberg, not the most remarkable form of corruption. Foetry wasn't a momentary jolt to the impartial standards of academic poetry, but its very essence. However, this is how Orr justifies the corruption:
In such arrangements, the idea of fair play doesn't typically extend to people outside the group. Nor is that attitude necessarily to be criticized: If you and your friends are struggling to get attention, it hardly makes sense to spend each brief moment in the spotlight talking about the gang down the street.
In other words, it's okay to exclude outsiders when you're supposed to be impartial judges! In fact, Orr takes the example of Foetry admonishing corrupt poetry judging as an example of the system working--somebody bothered to take the trouble to expose the corruption, which goes to show that university poets are expected to uphold standards. Only a lawyer would engage in this sort of reasoning.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Here's to the Culture-Shaping Commandos!

I've begun reading the DON'T BLAME THE UGLY MUG anthology--and am busy in absorbing each poem on its own merits (Rick Lupert and Eric Lawson's contributions stand out in a good way at this unfinished point in the journey).

But, unfortunately, I'm a bit troubled by the Victor Infante introduction.

Despite saying some kind (and accurate) words about Steve and Ben's stewardship, it's Victor's tendency to let his occasionally gushing, perhaps occasionally inadvertently condescending Arbiter of Taste flag fly:
"...where some of the brightest stars in poetry today have popped their heads in to read"
"....why so many heavyweights of various poetic stripes are willing to travel to the outskirts of a mid-sized SoCal town to read"
"a little homey community reading" (note for all who read this: "community reading" is poetry code for "tolerant of amateurs")
and here's the passage (highlighted by me) that tells you all you want to know about Victor Infante and his ethos that poetry belongs to Navy Seals of letters, and that baby blue Marines deserve the washout they get:
"And that's the secret to running a reading, and indeed to poetry in general.  It's hard, exhausting work--frustrating often and grueling always--but then you get those moments when someone who's never read a poem in public before brings a jaded poetry audience [!] to tears. or when a kid who's been reading for a couple months pops up with something that matches anything the heavyweights have to offer, and suddenly, it's magic."

Safe to say it's the kind of passage written by a human being now used to routine acceptance from publishers/literary journals.

Actually, the combat-unit of literary elites trope isn't something I made up myself.  Richard Beban, in the midst of a scolding seven-page letter [!] to me, used that same metaphor--listing poets by their last names: Lupert, Constantine, Arroyo etc. etc.

The reason I'm writing this post has nothing to do with envy: a lot of poets who have survived over the thirteen years I've been involved with SoCal poetry deserve accolades for their work on page/stage.

Instead, it's to make a comment on the post-2003 SoCal poetry environment where people such as (I'll list them by last names) Beban, Thomas, Infante, Brown, Alvarado determine who makes it into the lifeboats in an apparent expression of concern that if poetry culture isn't given the proper shaping for quality (and to discourage and weed out "amateurs"), the potential listening public could choose "wrong."

Therefore, you have a lot of people wielding brooms who are secretly frightened of being swept into obscurity by the brooms of others.

Mel Gibson gets the sympathetic interview that he wants on the eve of THE BEAVER's release.

From the DEADLINE intro: I opted to give Gibson's interview to Deadline because editors at other media outlets seemed inclined to use this story to pursue their own agendas.--Allison Hope Weiner

Guessing that Mel and publicist Alan Nierob were terrifically happy with this interview.

A highlight:
WEINER: People didn’t understand how you could say the things you did on these tapes.  They wondered, what kind of person says those things.  Right now, many people think you’re a racist and that you hate women from listening to those tapes.
GIBSON: I’ve never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality -- period. I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited.  You have to put it all in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship. It’s one terribly, awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day and doesn’t represent what I truly believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life.

Here's a rebuttal to the interview from David Poland of THE HOT BLOG:

Friday, April 15, 2011

A poetry blast from the past--how some of my cynicism developed.

From an old Cobalt Poets listing in the last decade.  Here's Richard Beban, one-time Hyperpoet, talking to Bowerbird Intelligentleman, performance poet, about me.  Beban gets in a shot at a poem of mine, that, interestingly enough, was published in the first Tebot Bach anthology SO LUMINOUS THE WILDFLOWERS (highlighting is mine):

I'd have to agree with you about it being "certainly no worse
than much of the stuff out there." High praise from you.

Much of the stuff out there is also prosaic polemic, little
angry essays that probably work in high school "satire"
magazines, but bear little resemblance to crafted poetry.

Terry is a PROSE writer, Bird; there's little difference between
one of his angry posts and one of his angry "poems," generally
about failure in Hollywood.

Just because you break a line where you want it, instead of
where the typesetter wants it, that doesn't make you a poet.

It's truly hard to tell, in a McCarthy performance, where the
incohate rant stops and the poetry begins. And it's hard to
find the music, the poetic craft, on the page of one of his
chapbooks, either.

Here's a "list poem" from the Wildflower anthology that's
big on list and small on poem. Gee, it's a satire about
showbiz. Well beat me over the head with a Princeton New
Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, I hadn't noticed how
deft and brilliant the satire was. (Last sentence satire.)

Aside from the occasional stabs at assonance and consonance
picked up and dropped so quickly they make me think they
were the kind of random typing accidents that happen
when monkeys try Shakespeare, show me the poetry in this piece:

Icarus' Itinerary

Fly high in the sky.
Allow wings to be melted
by the sun.
Fall to Earth.
Suffer painful injuries.
Hire a PR firm to do damage control.
Apologize to Jay, Dave, Conan,
Larry, Connie, lyanla,
Dr. Phil, Barbara and Oprah.
Confess past sins
to a sympathetic journalist.
Do a photo shoot for
Get a suspended sentence,
contingent on completing
200 hours of community service.
Go to a rehab center in Malibu.
Become clean and sober.
Get a new pair of wings.
Feel immortal.
Repeat all of the above.

> but richard, why do you keep blasting terry's work?
> while i haven't heard much of it, what i have heard
> seems to me to be at an acceptable level of quality,
> certainly no worse than much of the stuff out there.

> -bowerbird

More regarding ABC soap cancellations--the fix was in and public kept in the dark.

And here's a key passage from the article:
 The demise of the two venerable soaps was actually a year in the making, Frons tells me. "A year ago, we started to look at our projections where the ratings for the soaps would go," he said. When those projections came in pretty discouraging, the network began to aggressively develop replacement shows, 15 of them. Four of the 15 were picked up to pilot: The Chew, The Revolution and two others, a talk show and a dating show. Originally, the idea was to cancel only one daytime drama, Frons said. But "the way the ratings developed and the pilots turned out, the ratings developed negatively and pilots developed positively, so we decided to make a bigger shift."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Soap operas aka daytime dramas--and then there were four.
And a flip, we're-above-this post from THE ONION'S AV CLUB:,54616/
Plus this sort-of-loud-and-symbolic-gesture from Hoover, the vacuum cleaner manufacturers:

My opinions:
1. ABC Daytime's Brian Frons is certainly playing the "managing for margins" game that Jeff Zucker did at NBC last season when pulling 10 o'clock series for the disastrous-but-cheap JAY LENO SHOW.  Since THE CHEW (rhymes with THE VIEW) and THE REVOLUTION will be less expensive than either AMC or OLTL, it's safe to guess that Frons won't stress out from fall 2011 to late-summer 2012 if the ratings for both series are lower than what they're replacing.

2. I feel sorry for the NYC-based actors who counted on NYC-taped soaps for all or at least part of their annual income.  Certainly the cancellation of OLTL (the last NYC soap standing) is the end of an era.

3. It may be easy to mock and smirk at daytime soaps--particularly about their tendencies to be rather broad and unsubtle in characterizations and scripting.  But I've watched them on and off through my lifetime (SANTA BARBARA was a particular favorite).  And it's sad to see them gradually become extinct (expecting the usual cliche about how pre-emptions for the O.J. Simpson trial coverage started the inevitable-slide-downwards).

Slightly revised poem from 2008--WATCHING YOU WRITE

sometimes I can’t read the words

you are writing

on the yellow legal pad

as a part of therapy

for your post-aneurysm brain

sometimes I can read the repeated letters

and fragments of words

and wonder

what you are trying

to say

your mind can still speak in complete sentences

but the process of translation

from brain to hand to pen to paper

is far from precise

and when I don’t understand

and the process of writing begins again

I pray I get your meaning this time

for your sake

Monday, April 11, 2011

Brief coda to today's nonfan club post.

Re the Terry McCarty's War Against Humanity blog:

The proprietor of the blog has the right of free speech--even anonymous speech. But I don't understand why fearful, let's-make-Terry-angry-in-public-so-we-can-ostracize-him-some-more blog material is considered a valuable tool for creating a more harmonious Southern California poetry community.

And it ranks higher on the bitterness scale than anything I've posted.

My nonfan club is at it again.

As for the apology post to Ben, Steve and Phil I made a couple of days ago: I took responsibility for my actions of seven years back, apologized, asked for reconciliation and reinstatement.

Whether or not it happens, I'm satisfied I did the right thing and can move on to the future.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The annual plea for forgiveness re the Ugly Mug situation of 2004.

Dear Steve, Ben and Phil,

First of all, congratulations on the DON'T BLAME THE UGLY MUG anthology.  It's a milestone you all should take pride in reaching.

And once again, I'm writing you to again ask for forgiveness regarding misbehavior on my part in 2004 resulting in banishment.

At this point, I'll address people individually.

I'm sorry to have disrespected you, Steve.  And I'm also very regretful it happened after a reading while most of the audience remained in the room.

Also, I owe Phil an apology for not closing my mouth and listening when he was trying to impress on me the magnitude of what happened.  It was wrong of me to talk back like I did.

Of course, I'm aware of questions of "credibility" since I've petitioned publicly and privately for this banishment to end--and I've expressed disappointment and hurt when it hasn't happened.

In my defense, I'd like to restate my respect for all three of you by reminding you that I've never returned to the Ugly Mug since September of 2004.   Whatever can be said, I've done my best to abide by that edict.

And it must be said that I attended the Ugly Mug between 2000 and 2004--with only the one incident of wrongful behavior to my discredit during that four-year period.

Recently, I read this statement about the Ugly Mug and the reading "They care deeply about poetry, and community, and realize the two aren't mutually exclusive."

I'd like to think that forgiveness is an integral part of all communities--especially poetry.

It's safe to say that my behavior, upon returning to Wednesday readings, would be exemplary and nondisruptive like it was between 2000 and 2004.

I very much hope we can all stop being perennially upset at each other and solidify the community that poets and business owners work so hard to achieve.

Yours sincerely,
Terry McCarty

RIP Sidney Lumet: Serpico Trailer

Friday, April 8, 2011

Re the immediate future of LA/OC poetry readings--and how to make it brighter.

Not much to say in this post except that it's going to be a rough late spring and summer regarding gasoline prices--and one can only hope that if people want to go to a poetry reading, then they'll either carpool or take MTA buses/light rail. It's a lot better for the poetry hosts and the venues than not going at all.

It would be nice to see SoCal readings thrive in adverse economic conditions and not be underattended to the point of risking extinction.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

SALON's Laura Miller interviews NYT poetry critic David Orr.

Here's a fascinating passage from the interview:

You have a fascinating chapter, titled "In the Fishbowl," about the social and economic situation that professional poets work in. I have to say, the poetry world in itself can be daunting to the nonspecialist. You might tentatively mention a poet you like to an expert or a member of the poetry world, and they'll look at you as if you just gushed over a greeting card. You don't even want to admit to having any kind of taste because you're afraid it'll be the wrong taste.
I've been that kind of person before, and I'm ashamed of it.
I often write about the sociology of the poetry world, and some readers like it and some don't. I think that it's important to do because people don't know where poems come from. I find that when people do get a sense that poetry is written by human beings and that these human beings are under various pressures through the world that they inhabit, just like everyone else, usually people are much more sympathetic to poetry.
Really? Because my impression is that there is a lot of knee-jerk complaining about the poetry establishment, and that the people who make those complaints are not very sympathetic to the communal pressures of the poetry world. You hear a lot of gripes about how everybody knows everybody else and that there's a lot of log rolling.
Well, one of the things I want to show in that chapter is that the kind of behavior that those people complain about has been going on for a long, long time. A lot of really good poetry has arisen either in spite of or maybe because of that kind of behavior.
Poets (including great poets) have always been cliquish and have always fought with other poets.
Yes. I think it's useful for general readers to see that so that they see poetry as a human art, not as something that just arrives on a lightning bolt from the clouds.
There are people who don't like this, and who really cling to the idea that poetry should never talk about the dirty underside. But I find that a little familiarity with the dirty underside actually makes everyone more comfortable because otherwise you just sit around denying the reality.

Here's a review of Orr's book:,b=facebook

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

OC's The Two Idiots reading--the truth is somewhere between these two poles.

From a former OC poet/tastemaker:
Hosts Ben Trigg and Steve Ramirez have created something powerful and important there in Southern California. Readings that last that long are rare, and readings that last that long and have hosted such a wide range of new and established poetic work are even more rare. Even after all of these years, "Two Idiots" remains my favorite reading in the country, not least because Steve and Ben are two of my favorite people. They care deeply about poetry, and about community, and realize the two aren't mutually exclusive. This reading has been the heart of Southern California poetry for years, and here's wishing them many more years of doing great work.

From a poster on Yelp:
I appreciate that the Ugly Mug supports creativity.  Many of the poets I've heard there are very talented, as well.  Unfortunately, during multiple visits, I have felt like an unwanted guest in somebody's home. Sometimes it feels a bit like an "in" clique and if you're not in, you're out.

As for me, I'm "out" for the rest of my life (won't go into it again here)--but, because I know a few of the poets who have performed there, will buy the DON'T BLAME THE UGLY MUG anthology (with a cover designed by OC poet/artist Leigh White) nonetheless.