Literary Roll CAll
Louis Adamic is an amazing writer. His book Laughing in the Jungle is fire on the page. He spent some time in San Pedro. His descriptions of life along the port evoke the scents of the wharf in a real way.
Carey McWilliams is a pioneer. The king of early California historians. He did a series of 7 books that are still accurate. If you are ever in Pershing Square in Downtown LA check the bench on the south end of the park. There’s a Carey McWilliams quote that extends on the tall south wall. the last words read..
“Then suddenly it occurred to me that in all the world there never was nor will there ever be another place like this the city of the angels. Here the American people were erupting like lava from a volcano
here indeed was the place for me — a ringside seat at the circus.. “
Carlos Bulosan was a good friend of John Fante and Carey McWilliams. He was a Filipino poet that could put it down. He wrote powerfully. His book America is in the Heart was one of the first along with Chester Himes that told the truth about racist times.
Chester Himes is a literary giant. IF He Hollers Let Him Go is a masterpiece. Too much truth for its time.
Nelson Algren wrote about the underworld of America during the mid-century. My favorite work of his is Chicago: A City on the Make. It’s an 80-page prose poem that was actually banned from Chicago when it was written in 1951. It’s a lyrical love song to the city but the establishment at the time couldn’t get past Algren’s imagery of Chicago’s underworld. Algren tells of gamblers, pimps, prostitutes, vice cops, broken-down fighters.
“It used to be a writer’s town & it’s always been a fighters town.”
Algren writes his ass off with bare bone breakdowns. His book The Man with the Golden Arm was made into a movie starring Sinatra. Read Nelson Algren.
If you ever wanna read some Los Angeles neo-noir, check out the work of John Gilmore. I’ve read his two books, Severed, and L.A. Despair. He has several others. The man pulls no punches. With anecdotes on James Dean, the Black Dahlia, John Holmes, and many others, he gives the inside scoop on the Los Angeles underworld. The only L.A. stories I’ve read as wild as Gilmore’s is Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger.
Supreme respect to the poet Reginald Lockett. Based in the Bay Area, I met him at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2007. I bought his book Random History Lessons. The poems were excellent. Easily read. Bangin on the page or the stage. Turns out Lockett won a PEN OAKLAND/Josephine Mills Literary Award in 1996. His work first appeared in the anthology BLACK FIRe in 1968.
I was in touch with Lockett over email after I met him. I wanted to have him read with the collective in Los Angeles. He said he was with it. I wanted to pay him for performing and times were financially tough so I was waiting for the right time to invite him down.
A time when I could pay him at least a few hundred bones to rock his poems. Next thing you knew I hear he passed. Lockett passed in early 2008. Wish we could have had him read with us, much respect, all praises to Reginald Lockett!
Thanks for your great poems. I bought one of Lockett’s books last time I was in Berkeley when I saw it on the shelf of Moe’s Books.