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Jenny Factor -West Coast Correspondent

All to No End from Literary Los Angeles [by Jenny Factor]

Juniorgilliam

            all to no end save beauty
            the eternal -

  from The Crowd at the Baseball Game by William Carlos Williams

It's been a big week for poetry around here. Last Friday, the Mayor of Los Angeles named our city's first poet laureate--baseball-loving poet, Eloise Klein Healy. Eloise is probably not the first baseball-loving poetry royalty. But is she the first poet to pitch puns and sling similes for the Boys in Blue?

I'm not an expert, so I invite fans in the stands to throw peanuts. But if I'm not mistaken, Marianne Moore batted for the Yankees. Eve Merriam, a very fine poet, and a winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize in her youth--in fact, she wrote one of my favorite poems on new love ("I'm telling my hands not to blossom into roses"), penned these ecumenical lines:

Bare-handed reach
to catch
April's
incoming curve.
Leap higher than you thought you could and
Hold:
Spring,
Solid,
Here.

I loved attending the little poetry inauguration ceremony at the downtown library, falling though it did smack dab in the midst of an Antioch University Los Angeles poetry residency. I stole an hour away for happy announcements in a musty, muralled place. After, back "home" on the Antioch front, poet Kazim Ali came to visit from Ohio, and put us into our bodies and into sound. Then my mentees and I began to work on crafting their project period contracts, pulling books off shelves, as we will off and on all week, coming to a common vocabulary about literature and their own work and the changes and growth they hope for in the term ahead. And also a conversation about passions, about finding words in all their pockets. I love the dialogue and the magic of it. And the accidental discoveries.

Like this one. Here is another poet West Coast poet who has taken up the Dodger cause: B.H. Fairchild writes about a certain player's time spent as a Brooklyn Dodger during his own pre-poetry Kansas youth in "For Junior Gilliam." Gilliam served as second and third baseman for both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles' era Dodgers, was named 1953 Rookie of the Year, and ultimately became among the earliest African American major league coaches.

So on behalf of all Dodger-loving poemphiles everywhere:  Congratulations to the first poet-laureate of L.A., Eloise Klein Healy!


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Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

ThisWayOut
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