Souls & Passions, the Poets of Los Angeles

On Sunday, April 7, 2002, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center will host The Big Picture, a gathering of Southern California poets to be photographed for National Poetry Month.

Southern California is a region of diverse populations, each with a unique voice. For this event, Beyond Baroque will bring these voices together to be documented by photographer Mark Savage in a panoramic group portrait on the grounds of Beyond Baroque. With this gathering, Beyond Baroque and Mark Savage seek to awaken Southern California to the wealth of talent that resides right here.

This event culminates Mark Savage's portrait series "Souls and Passions," a five-year project to individually photograph the prominent poets of Los Angeles. Called one of the "finest up-and-coming portrait photographers in North America" by American Photography, Savage has produced outstanding work for The Los Angeles Times, Money, Fortune Small Business, and other major local and national publications. The completed "Souls and Passions" project will encompass over 100 portraits of L.A.'s major voices, including such luminaries as David St. John, Suzanne Lummis, Jeff McDaniel, Wanda Coleman, Gerald Locklin, and Ellyn Maybe. The group photo will fulfill Mark Savage's vision of a grand mosaic of the diverse faces of Southern California poetry today. After the group photo, the poets will view the finished "Souls and Passions" collection on display in the Beyond Baroque gallery.

On this occasion, participating poets will also donate copies of their books to the Beyond Baroque Archive, the largest independent collection of Southern California poetry on the West Coast. Mark Savage will present a framed print of the group photo to Beyond Baroque for its permanent collection.

Mark Savage states, "The benefit to my career with this project has been all about the amazing new relationships I've forged. I've been genuinely moved, inspired, and entertained by the poets I've met."




Mark Savage has always been obsessed with photography. He credits a mixture of life experiences, his travels, and varied interests as having an influential impact on his work. In all, the recipe for a Mark Savage portrait, is one part technical expertise, one part intuition, and a pinch of serendipity.

Professionally, his clients include a diverse list of magazines, companies and public relation firms throughout the United States. Mark Savage's photographs have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Money, Fortune Small Business, and numerous other publications throughout southern California.

Mark Savage can be contacted by e-mail at: marksavagephoto@aol.com, or by phone at 310.367.4706.

Click here for Mark's CV
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Towards an Impossible Anthology

– by Bill Mohr

Very few group photographs of Los Angeles poets have ever been published except in the occasional anthology which focuses on Southern California poetry. The average number of poets in these photographs is less than twenty, and none of the photographs are accompanied by a list which identifies the assembled figures. The visual historical record, then, is very thin, compared to the quantity of material published by poets living in Los Angeles since the end of World War II.

Click here for the full essay
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– by Bill Mohr

In the past half-century in Los Angeles, thousands of readings have taken place in coffeehouses, art galleries, museums, and small theaters, but only one place has managed to sustain a reading series for more than 30 years: Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. Beyond Baroque was founded by George Drury Smith in a storefront on what was then West Washington Blvd. in 1968. In the late 1970s, Beyond Baroque moved to its current site in the old Venice City Hall on Venice Blvd. The list of poets who have read their work at Beyond Baroque comes close to a thousand people. Beyond Baroque has sponsored the longest running free poetry workshop in Los Angeles (on Wednesday nights). The workshop was begun by John Harris and Joseph Hansen, and has been moderated by a wide range of poets, including James Krusoe, Jack Grapes, the late Bob Flanagan, Franceye Dean Smith, John Thomas, and Will Alexander. Beyond Baroque's collection of small press poetry books, chapbooks, and broadsides is perhaps the largest one available to the general public at any independent arts organization on the West Coast. The Beyond Baroque library owes the scope and magnitude of its assembled "underground" of alternative publishing to the generosity of hundreds of poets, who have donated their own books as well as books from their own library to the collection. Past presidents and/or artistic directors of Beyond Baroque include Dennis Phillips, Benjamin Weissman, Tosh Berman, Joceyln Fisher, Manazar Gamboa, Dennis Cooper, and the current artistic director/president Fred Dewey. Beyond Baroque has been the recipient of many grants over the years, but has survived due to the incredible generosity of many people in Los Angeles who loved literature and the written word.


Copyright 2002 Beyond Baroque