Mike Sonksen, aka Mike the Poet, tunes into the heartbeat and history of Los Angeles.
“Sometimes you don’t have the touch.
Now the best tenderness is whatever you try
when it’s not enough to say how could you have known.”
Ruth Nolan shows us the layers of our lives and our loves in a roadtrip across the ocean of the desert.
“The priest rushed out of the entrance and raised both of his hands to the sky. He was a swan flapping its wings as his long white robe dangled from his hairy forearms. A group of old women pointed judgmental fingers at Raphael’s car.”
“The religion of the bus is superior to many others since its devotees, unlike those of other belief systems, are almost always rewarded, eventually. Even in Los Angeles, a bus does come.”
The prose poetry of Andy Lara captures the sights and sounds of the City of Angels, from the buoyant energy of schoolkids to the shuffle of homeless street scavengers.
“When some air’s displaced, other air rushes in. Does one soul’s absence make room for another?”
“‘Stanzi. You should know who you are,’ he said.
I shook my head, though he was right. But who was I? I held out my hands and pleaded with my eyes.”
Brad Rose shows us to the dark of night and dark of soul in the corners and outskirts of our city. His audio recordings of his readings lend a gritty, raw intimacy to his words.
“Dearest L.A., with your light and your wings, shadow-love of my life. I’ll always be back, Los Angeles. Because now I know: ‘You like me, you really like me!'”
“Someday, I’ll return to the land of hiking and green juice, but until then it will remain the ex-lover I left because of bad timing.”
“I would like to light a lantern and watch it float off into the night sky — leading the spirits safely to their homes. I would like to see the ceremonial dance.”
“I get impatient for the pill to kick in, because this bitch is growing, it’s blossoming. Xanax is next. Two hours later, I pop another. It’s time for ER. And not the one on TV. My brain is about to explode.”
L.A.-based writer and artist Andrea Lambert escorts us inside her edgy, sexy and personal oil and assemblage series.
Grant Palmer points his camera at L.A.’s communities of diversity and culture, and that keeps him on the fringes and edges of the city – all the places “that make life really, really interesting.”
“I found a crooked heart of glass in the driveway in Los Angeles a few days after David left. Or did I? It seems a detail too good to be true. There’s no telling what’s a mirage in all that light in L.A. What’s real and illusion, what’s simply a reflection of all that trapped sun.”
“Nancy said the mortifying truth was what finally pierced her. That plus a poor-fitting pair of slacks I’d bought on Hollywood Boulevard from a touristy clothier who had shoe-polish ads in the window. I strode into his store against every pulsing neon omen, determined to believe he could make me look more substantial than L.A. Nancy asked if I wore the slacks to make girls swoon — like that, we were on my turf.”
Troubadour Tom Freund on his inspiration for “Angel Eyes,” an emotive song about the duality in the L.A. scene, and an ode to the angels, true friends who are always there.
“Yesterday my handsomest colleague drove me home from work. We had been held over at the office, and the late summer sun was setting orangely as we left. I waited with my back turned as he locked the front door, surprised that he had the key.”
“The full moon will slip off my shoes.
The longest day of the year will give way.
You nuzzle my nape under luminescence.
You ran your finger along my forehead,
tucked my bangs behind my ear.
Gravity is a force that draws two bodies.
The axis is about to shift.”
“Cells beget cells
extending into light
drinking photons with the rest
as sugars accumulate
at the ends of buds
ideas rolling into acts
“Los Angeles doesn’t demand your love.
If you don’t understand her, she’ll bow her
head, say ‘Namaste,’ and she’ll rise above.
Not everyone gets her, she’s not bitter.”
“On the one hand, there was always New York, the place that says, ‘Do I look like I’m off duty to you, pal?… I don’t see your name on the list … Why are you wearing pastels?’ On the other, there was always California, the place that is just there, doesn’t particularly care if you are, but when you arrive, lies on its back and says, ‘Hello, may I help you?'”
Author Wendy C. Ortiz gives a visceral exploration of love, loss and transformation in the hills and streets of L.A. in an excerpt of “Hollywood Notebook,” a memoir of her 20s and 30s coming-of-age in Los Angeles.
A fast-moving excerpt from Shanna Mahin’s acclaimed debut novel, tracing the ups and downs of Jess, third-generation Hollywood trouble.
“His spirit is buoyed when he sees the lavender oil in the bathroom mirror. It’s simmering in a glass dish that glows orange over a candle; the lighting is perfect. Behind it: his mother’s curly, red hair swept up, her ivory arms rim the leaden tub against checkered tile. The dish and her hair stand out like the colorized objects in an otherwise black-and-white photo.”
“My son starts doing the cooking. He serves me a hot banana-nut muffin with cinnamon, butter and brown sugar melted inside, and I start to regain my appetite. I begin to see a glimmer. While this isn’t the life I had planned, it could work.”
“Hiram ‘Doc’ Hollywood had come to California from the Topeka World’s Fair of ’88 to build a dream factory that would bear his name. But dreams were a rough business. In his years of efforts he could never figure out the formula to get the dreams into the heads of the sleeping people (something his protege Leonardo ‘Leo’ DiCaprio would one day do), and when the dream market took a beating in the Panic of ’96, Doc Hollywood switched to movies.”
“Dear Los Angeles: You are not perfect. But I love you. I’m, like, super-into-you.” A love letter to L.A. from comedian, author and Brooklyn transplant Sara Benincasa.
AFLW co-founder David Lott reflects on the loss of a close friend by examining his dreamlike grief and tenuous memories of adventures in the high grounds of the Doheny Estates.
“My little terrier mutt is quintessentially L.A. This is not to say that she’s an item I throw in a $1,500 handbag when she matches my ensemble, but she was born here and by the end of her first year she had already left home and walked more L.A. streets than Charlie Sheen’s last ‘girlfriend.'”
Native Angeleno David Franco’s photographs capture the city’s changing landscape, soulful architecture, gritty beaches and darkness among sunny days.
Photographer Eric M Cwiertny’s images of facades and marquees in DTLA draw the viewer into their ornamental detail, character-filled history, and a yearning for what was and what could be.
In Nicola Wood’s vivid oil paintings, L.A.’s ubiquitous cars are both real and magical.
“I exist in duplicate. I double your pleasure. I double your fun. I exist in triplicate. I’m three faces of Eve. I’m a bevy of beauties. I’m Girls, Girls, Girls! My name is legion, for I am many. Good blonde, bad blonde. Born blonde, bottle blonde. I’m a blonde bombshell.”
“Couple of mothers, aren’t we?
Just look at us,
still breathing strong,
when we swore there wasn’t a chance.”
Author Joel Harper pens a beautiful allegory about preparing those we love to deal with the adversities of life, and then letting go.
“Rose was born in Long Beach. Wanda in the desert. Barbara Ann was the baby. Honey-colored curls made her mother hum the Beach Boys tune for which she was named. Happily hanging diapers on the homespun line strung between apartment buildings. Moments and myths long gone.”
“My dad wanted me to be more ‘American,’ so they only spoke to me in English. But I didn’t mind because I hated the sound of the Spanish that I’d hear at home. It was the weapon Dad used against Mom.”
“She had deftly used the rearview mirror since her early days of driving and rarely wasted time at home on makeup. Efficiency was of the utmost importance to her … a borderline obsession.”
“You think horrible things on your commute through the insidious cesspool that is Los Angeles … Why would anyone want to live here? You are just a dirt speck here. You are no one here. You’re from here.”
“I’m a hot flash, molten gold
drawing your eye up
from poor and rocky soil
to my perky chocolate brown cones
call me gloriosa daisy
but don’t compare me to
that pale cousin of mine
prey of ambivalent lovers”
Songs that remind her of Los Angeles filter through a survivor’s reflection on her life and connection to the city.
In Rachel Sona Reed’s meditation on history and loss, a neighborhood’s wartime homes are stripped to their bones.
Every woman knows the memories and meaning that a dress can carry. Saryn Chorney’s poem gathers those ethereal, delicate threads.
Two poems on the possibilities of rebirth and motherhood.
L.A.-based singer/songwriter Avery Roberts shares the deeper meaning of the lyrics to “Wifi & I,” his infectious love song parody about our constant search for connection in a world Velcroed to our devices.