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Aug 1, 2006, 2:24 PM

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Poets & Writers Inc.

Focus on California

August 1, 2006

"Summer afternoon--summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."

--Henry James

P&W News

California Writers Exchange Contest:
The August 31 deadline to enter P&W's California Writers Exchange contest is quickly approaching. The contest awards one poet and one fiction writer from California with an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in Spring 2007 to give a public reading and meet with top literary professionals.

To print guidelines and an application form, visit http://www.pw.org/prizes/WEXApp_California.pdf ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAEAAAHiAADCPg ) . To receive a hard copy, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to California Writers Exchange, Poets & Writers, Inc., 2035 Westwood Blvd., Suite 211, Los Angeles, CA 90025, or send your mailing address to jfitzgerald@pw.org.

Poets & Writers Magazine:
The magazine received high praise from The Sacramento Bee. Read what they had to say at
http://www.sacbee.com/content/lifestyle/books/v-print/story/14277298p-15086425c.html ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAEAAAPdAADCPg ) , and browse the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine at http://www.pw.org/mag ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAEAAATtAADCPg ) .

Seattle Readings/Workshops:
As part of the expansion of P&W's Readings/Workshops program, we began providing fees for writers giving readings or workshops in Seattle. California writers and presenters with Seattle connections are encouraged to spread the word about the R/W program, which also operates in New York State, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit. For more information, visit http://www.pw.org/rw ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAEAAAbKAADCPg ) .

Literary Arts

State Support for the Arts:
After years of suffering cuts to music and art programs, California arts educators and supporters are celebrating a recent increase in state funding for the arts. Included in the new state budget is the largest-ever expenditure for arts and music education in California, as well as an increase in the budget for the California Arts Council. Visit http://www.artsed411.org ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAIAAAHPAADCPg ) for more information about arts education and http://www.cac.ca.gov ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAIAAAJNAADCPg ) , the Web site of the California Arts Council.

The Big Read:
The Fresno Public Library was one of ten organizations invited to participate in the pilot phase of The Big Read, a program that "provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities." Approximately 100 organizations in all 50 states will be selected to participate in The Big Read for 2007. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. See http://www.neabigread.org/application_process.php ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAIAAATnAADCPg ) for more information.

Home Pages

This occasional feature spotlights California small presses and literary magazines.

When you visit its Web site, Noveltown appears to be a small literary press located in Bakersfield that publishes one to two print books annually, as well as e-books. But further exploration reveals an ambitious plan to "fuse California's Southern Central Valley arts into one community." Projects include publishing, a Bakersfield and Central Valley book blog, a music label, and a short film contest. Visit http://noveltown.net ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAMAAAJdAADCPg ) .

Link of the Month

California poet Carol Muske-Dukes is just one of the participants in QuickMuse, an online experiment where poets improvise on a randomly picked topic. The site includes a playback feature that enables readers to witness each poem as it was written. Want to learn more? See the Poets & Writers Magazine essay about QuickMuse at http://www.pw.org/mag/0605/gordon.htm ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAQAAAG6AADCPg ) .


*( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgBzAAT-----AADCPg )*

Q&A with Teka-Lark Lo

This occasional feature of Focus on California gives voice to members of the literary community throughout California. This month we checked in with Teka-Lark Lo, SoCal coordinator for Tupelo Press, co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, Poetix columnist, and editor of the BrickBat Revue.

1). You're at so many literary events, as well as almost any venue where something art-related might be taking place. Can you explain your event-attending passion?

I was tired of people saying that L.A. had no culture. I would say, "That's not true," but I had no proof; my night life experience was mainly going to bars. So I began my event-attending passion to prove the rest of the country wrong. I started keeping an electronic diary that evolved into thelodown, a Yahoo group that I moderate.

2). What drives you (besides your sky-blue Mini)? What have you learned by going to so many events?

I've learned that Los Angeles is a vast place, with a candy dish full of things to do. We have opera, theater, poetry, art lectures, and the fine arts. To me, the Los Angeles literary scene is like L.A. itself--there is no real center, there is no real establishment, and there are no rules.

I think about Red Hen Press. There is only one real publishing company of poetry in Los Angeles, and that is Red Hen. How did Red Hen start? Kate Gale just felt like it. Then you think about the photographer Mark Savage. There was no visual documentation of poets in Los Angeles. What does he do? He just starts compiling pictures. Soon it will be a book that documents the phenomenal L.A. literary scene. There are so many people in L.A. who start art galleries, magazines, and readings. That's the beauty of it. You can literally have no connections and no money, and make magic happen. I think that is what drives me, the idea that I can make anything happen.

3). What do you love most about the Los Angeles literary scene and what might make it better?

I love the many different voices. You have very academic readings, like the lovely Ruskin Art Club series curated by Elena Karina Byrne, that remind you of how readings might have been in a 1900's New York salon. Then you have these funky places like the Little Joy open-mic, poured by Keith Niles in Echo Park. The possibilities for poetry are endless, ever-changing, and evolving--just like Los Angeles.

There are things I would want to see to make the scene better. Most importantly, I would encourage putting the literary arts front and center. Don't make it a tag onto music or allow literary events to turn into a grounds for actors to practice monologue or musicians to play music. Secondly, too many of our literary venues have become about poetry second and nostalgia first. Let the dead people rest, and continue to find new fresh voices.

4). Each week, via the lodown listserv, you send out a list of the upcoming week's literary and visual art events, plus a first-person account of things you did the previous week. What are some of the higher aspirations behind this listserv?

My higher aspiration is an on-the-scene literary/arts magazine with a focus on Los Angeles. That's going to be launched in February 2007. It is an expansion of the BrickBat Revue, which is a literary periodical in broadsheet format. I want to be the Rolling Stone for L.A. poets. My goal is to help make L.A. the literary capital of the U.S.

5). As a young, emerging poet yourself, do you recognize any identifiable directions younger writers are going in?

I think writers are becoming more experimental. I also see a lot of writers doing one-person shows and doing things that I'm not quite sure are very literary, but that's what they are doing to make ends meet. I find that kind of thing disheartening. I think there are some people who are doing some awesome things--the people behind Chinatown's Betalevel are taking writing beyond writing, but still staying within the literary traditions.

I love films, but I feel that acting and literature should have two distinct categories. If your work can't stand up on the page and needs to be read or performed in order to pop, then you're an actor. There is nothing wrong with that, but that's what you are. I don't slum in your venues, don't slum in mine.

6). What alternatives are there for writers who operate outside the world of mainstream publishing?

Make your own vehicle and run over the dead people with it.

7). What suggestions do you have for emerging writers on how to get themselves out there?

Talk a good talk and have the game to back it up.

Visit Poets & Writers' Web site. ( http://pw.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=B9xkAgByAAEAAABLAADCPg )


Poets & Writers
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Los Angeles, CA 90025
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