Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Venice Is A Poem.

"Poetry is what Venice is all about. It ain't the only thing, but it's the fundamental thing."

That's a quote I heard from Jim Smith of The Free Venice Beachhead, who heard it from Pat Hartman. The Beachhead has an entire poetry section each month, but there's a lot more poems around Venice ... even just breathing in, really.

One of my favorite things about Venice is the poetry of it all. And the APPRECIATION of the Poetry of it all. The Beats hung out here ... The Venice West Cafe (and then Sponto Gallery) celebrated the poets and their muses all day, all night. Jim Morrison wrote poems on the sand, and turned them into Doors songs, before he left to only write poems in Paris.

Some of that poetry can get lost amid the gentrification, crime, and the general busyness of everyone's lives in this Millenium. Beyond Baroque keeps it going, though, with constant poetry readings and cultural events you would grow from just by walking in the door. They are also the Sponsors of the Venice Poetry Wall down - ironically or not? - on the side of the Beach Police Station. I've always loved to take a moment and soak in the words etched there ... now kinda fading and in need of some upkeep, but there to try and capture the reality in front of you in a few perfectly chosen lines.

Punk rock poetry is represented too, as Exene Cervenka pleads, "Head the Future off at the past. Part the freeway, let my people go free."

There are even poems gouged into the walls of the Public Restrooms down at the beach. Not long ago, I was thinking of someone I missed far away, and wondering what they were doing, when I rode my bike up to the restrooms to rinse my feet of sand. I looked up and this Wanda Coleman gem was staring me in the face:

... so sometimes poems in your midst can even make you more aware of yourself. Trip on that.

My favorite one so far, I think, comes from Viggo Mortensen (a longtime supporter of Beyond Baroque) and goes diagonally all across the wall, so I'll tell it to you myself ...

"It was all part of a wonderful secret, an infinite number of welcoming gifts that had lain waiting in the sea."

Leave it to Viggo to perfectly describe our Venice.

Or don't. Write your own poems, celebrate your own gifts ... and the ones waiting in the sea.

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