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Lynne Bronstein

Lynne Bronstein's Venice Poems

Ballad of Reading Jail

Kate Braverman

Wanda Coleman

John Kertisz

John Thomas and Philomene Long

Poems and Prose by Philomene and John

Last Days of John Thomas

The Beats: An Existential Comedy

Laureate at Ceremony

My Philomene

Illuminating the Wasteland

Majid Naficy

Van Gogh's Ear

Stuart Z. Perkoff

John O'Kane

Clair Horner

Eavesdropping on the Boardwalk
by Anne Alexander

Venice Poems

Zendik poem:
Buck-or-Two Blues Rap

The Gas House

In Venice CA


by Pat Hartman

I was a Venice virgin……..until taken one night to a poetry event at Beyond Baroque, back when it was on West Washington Boulevard. Wasn't that a great introduction to Venice? It was Alice through the looking-glass, a whole different world, and this movie reminds me of the excitement and novelty of that long-ago arrival in an unknown country. What a piece of work is GV6 THE ODYSSEY !

Filmed in the intimate settings of the poets' own homes, or in natural surroundings, interview segments alternate with the reading of shorter or longer bits of poetry. There are lots of interesting, quite agreeable visual effects. The whole thing has an amazing unity, considering all the different places where it was shot. Bob Bryan and everyone else involved in the production did a hellacious job.

Of course, I'd be crazy about anything with Wanda Coleman in it. What I like best about GV6, in fact, is that it's packed with Venice poets. Coleman has been on the scene since the Beat days, and her poem "His Old Flame, Lady Venice" is definitive. There's photographer Rod Bradley - check out his business card from the early 80s, with the motto "Neither master nor slave." Luis Campos joined the original Venice Poetry Workshop in 1969. Steve Goldman has run Venice Poetry Readings in the New Library and the Old Jail. Jim Natal and Jeanette Clough do the HyperPoets reading series at the Rose Café.

Most or all of the other 31 poets represented here also have Venice connections of some kind, showing up time after time at Beyond Baroque and other venerable venues, leading workshops, publishing in the Free Venice Beachhead, and so on. The bearded witch of Ocean Park, francEye, is known as the female Charles Bukowski. Lynne Thompson is a self-described "recovering attorney," and Marie Lecrivain is "writer in residence at her apartment." For the most fascinating reader in the group, I'd have to pick Chungmi Kim.

The comments of the poets are grouped together by theme, suggesting that they were asked to elaborate on at least some of the same questions, but no questions are ever heard. The comments are made in such a way that knowing the questions is unnecessary. It's a technique you have to have tried yourself in order to realize how much skill went into the editing.

You can tell that one of the suggested topics was the relationship between poetry and dreams, and another, teaching the young. Several of these poets teach at the college level, others are or have been involved with introducing elementary school children to poetry. Steve Goldman speaks of the need to "evoke poetry from the kids, not to teach it." Wanda Coleman addresses young poets with some very interesting thoughts.

Brendan Constantine, who comes from a theatrical family, talks about how his father asked him the equivalent of "What are you going to be when you grow up?" Momentarily relieved to find that his son had no ambition to be an actor, the father was instantly dismayed when the answer proved to be "poet." How had young Brendan managed to hit upon the one career more hopeless than acting, where even the successful are bums, and the unsuccessful are something even worse?

This movie and its accompanying extras make up a motherlode of quotable remarks and observations. I notice this in particular because I collect quotations and present them organized by topic. Here's an example of my kind of quotation, from Shahe Mankerian:

"The minute that we have the notion that there is such a thing as taboo, I think the writer is obligated, and I underline that word obligated, to write about those issues."

Johnny Masuda, whose work is described as "not for the faint of heart," writes about stuff like being raped as a child. His demeanor can be offputting. "Johnny's the guy that you don't want to come knocking at your door at midnight, because he's not bringing good news." Still, he has nice eyes.



The webslave entreats all to help the Venice Poets page become complete and accurate. The webslave is not all-knowing! If you belong on the Poets Page and you're not there, get in touch please.

I have only one problem with this movie, and it's as insignificant as a freckle on the Mona Lisa's elbow, but I'm going to mention it anyway. The bleeping of naughty words is not only annoying but inconsistent. I heard a few rude ones with perfect clarity, and a couple of cusses are only partially bleeped. If the bleeping was done in earnest, it's not a very good job. If it was done in a mocking spirit, it's a miscalculation. The very fact that it's unclear whether the bleeps were added with satirical intent, should tell you something.

Is it federally mandated that censored words must be covered up by an extremely irritating and attention-craving audio cue? Couldn't some other sound be substituted - a musical chord, for instance, or even silence? The dreaded bleeps strike a jarring note, and detract from a splendid piece of work that otherwise closely approaches perfection.

For some reason, a recurring vision comes to me where a small group of teenagers gather before a TV, somewhere in rural America, to watch this movie. There still are towns without poetry workshops, and there still are vast distances between places. I can see GV6 becoming a monster hit not only among the urban literati, but among the young and hopeful who live in places where they feel culturally deprived.

Better yet, I'd love to see this movie exported on a large scale. Some foundation should buy thousands of copies and give them away overseas, to anyone who will take them. Let's get something out there to show that America is not all Miami Vice or Dallas, and that Americans are not all Rambo or Britney Spears.

© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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