Fifty Years of Beyond Baroque: 1968–2018

By Johanna Drucker

From: LARB

downloadFOR HALF A CENTURY, Beyond Baroque, the literary arts center in Venice, has provided a venue for an eclectic array of voices from diverse communities. Its program flyers and press releases have featured punk poets and New Age mystics, as well as gay, feminist, Black, and Latinx lyricists, storytellers, songsters, and activists. While creating an essential platform for Los Angeles and Southern California writers, Beyond Baroque has also attracted high-profile figures of international renown like Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Jack Hirschman, Dennis Cooper, and Viggo Mortensen. If Southern California shows up on the literary map of late 20th-century America, it is in some significant part because of Beyond Baroque’s tireless activity and advocacy. And the prevailing spirit of inclusiveness in its programming can be attributed to George Drury Smith, who founded the institution in 1968.

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The World Stage and Literary Black Los Ángeles

by Brian Dunlap

25532286_728380960698600_6061884366904609104_oIt begins every Wednesday at 7:30 pm. Early arrivals step to the mic, sharing a poem in progress to receive much needed feedback. Then they provide feedback to others. V. Kali, author of Hymn (World Stage Press), sits next to the donation box and front entrance and welcomes attendees as they arrive. As host, V. has been a warm presence each week for years, her long beautiful natural hair a thing of legend. As the crowd grows, the list of open mic readers expands before the feature grabs everyone’s attention. Murmurs of “mmm hmm” and “that’s right” arise from the crowd. After, it’s the community-the open mic readers’-turn at the mic. It’s their chance to bring down the house.

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