Poets Describe Their Neighborhoods
Sesshu Foster has curated a collection of Los Angeles-based poets to write about their neighborhoods in a recent feature for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Foster starts with the origin story of a love for poetry, birthed in an era of wartime propaganda:
Only the poets seemed willing and able to address the truth of this world directly, speak it as they saw it, without the “once upon a time” fictions of storytellers or the equivocations and evasions of official pronouncements or ordinary conversations.
So for a vision of Los Angeles only possible with the perspective of poets, Foster "asked a bunch of L.A. poets to reflect on their neighborhoods."
For me, the light of these poets — like that of Wanda Coleman, Manazar Gamboa, Jayne Cortez, and Charles Bukowski before them, and Carlos Bulosan before them — cuts through the city like the last orange light of the afternoon, when shadows go long and 10,000 walls and windows shine.
What follows is mostly the prose musings of poets, with plenty of poetry sprinkled in or infused into the long passages on neighborhoods all across the city, as they were to the city's poets in many eras.