A Close Call for Beyond Baroque Ends in Victory

by Staff

Two days before its lease was due to expire, Beyond Baroque, a literary nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, scored a grass-roots victory when the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously last Friday to approve a twenty-five-year extension at a dollar per year. Housed since 1979 in a building at 681 Valencia Boulevard, Beyond Baroque offers public poetry readings, free workshops, a bookstore, and an archive of chapbooks and other small press publications. The organization learned last month that Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo planned to put the lease—last approved in 1997 and due to expire on March 2—up for auction to other nonprofits.

News of the plan (which coincided with the announcement that Dutton's Brentwood Books, a beloved independent bookstore in Los Angeles, will close its doors next month) led to hundreds of impassioned e-mails and phone calls to City Hall offices, as well as missives by literary bloggers.

"It has been quite an ordeal over the last two weeks," the city attorney's spokesman Nick Velasquez was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times. "The outpouring of support was strong."

"It is absolutely wonderful news," Beyond Baroque director Fred Dewey wrote in a message on the organization's Web site and in an e-mail to supporters. "It is victory for poetry and the arts. It is a victory for the preservation of history, the public realm, and the capacity for experiment. It is a rare triumph for the love of language, the written word, books, and the precious spark that community lends to all of us."