Wanda Coleman and Paul Vangelisti

Wanda Coleman, Paul Vangelisti
Wanda Coleman, Paul Vangelisti

Later this year, The Conversant and Essay Press will publish a chapbook, curated by Brian Kim Stefans, devoted to exploring the diversity of communities and historical trajectories shaping Los Angeles-based poetics. Here we offer, as an excerpt from that chapbook, a conversation between Wanda Coleman and Paul Vangelisti, conducted in the months preceding Coleman’s recent death.

Los Angeles has, to my mind, something of a start-and-stop poetic culture, with brief surges of thriving communities (the circle of Thomas McGrath in the McCarthy era, the circle around Stuart Perkoff and Wallace Berman in Venice during the Beat era, the Watts Writers Workshop and Jayne Cortez’ Watts Repertory Theater Company in the ’60s/’70s, the poets published by Momentum and Invisible City in the ’70s and ’80s, and the circle around Dennis Cooper’s Little Caesar around the time punk exploded), and then moments of relative cessation that create disconnects between these moments of activity. But of course, continuities exist, and much of that credit goes to Paul Vangelisti and the late Wanda Coleman who, as innovative, prolific and, not least important, engaged poets, have insisted on making the city of “Lost Angels” the unmistakable locus of their work—continuing to animate a sort of underground in contrast to the more official strands of poetry culture in the city (typified historically by my employer, UCLA) and the film industry (which we’ve all more or less had enough of). In addition, Paul has been a tireless publisher and, at times, historian and even conserver of Los Angeles poetry (the great poet Robert Crosson lived in Paul’s garage, gratis, for many years), while Wanda was, as anyone who has seen her read knows, an electrifying performer who turned poems “on the page” into verbal symphonies (she blew everyone away at her last reading, for the launch of the Norton Anthology of American Poetry, just weeks before she died). Characteristically, Wanda starts the interview with some frank opinions about the organizational activities that Paul pursued in the distant ’70s, but the interview continues to demonstrate how generous (even if angry) and hopeful (even if faced with what Wanda calls a “conspiracy”) both of these writers remained, and not incidentally shows how their friendship seemed to flourish even if they had not been closely in touch for many years.—Brian Kim Stefans

Wanda Coleman: Often, when I think of you, I remember the time you were hot to organize a poets’ union here in Southern California, although I assumed your ambitions were way beyond local turf. Would you care to start things off by summarizing your motivations at the time? I believed you were sincere; however, I recall that I was so cynical at the time, I had absolutely no faith in your notion.

Paul Vangelisti: Sorry it’s taken a few days to respond, but I’ve been looking for an article I did after the fiasco of the Los Angeles Poet Cooperative, for the literary-review mag Margins (published, if you’ll recall, in the Midwest, and almost the only game in town on the national level). Finally found an old xerox of the article but the original is gone, and I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of how to get hold of it. The mag has left almost no trace on the Internet.

WC: Figures, Paul.

PV: In any case, it’s truly interesting and provocative that you recall this failed event. In retrospect, as now a 45-year vet of Lost Angeles, I think your cynicism at the time was a pretty healthy response to what ensued. I’d only been here some seven or eight years and still considered—or, more likely, hoped—this place part of the grand California literary tradition, and not that much different than San Francisco. Oh well.

WC: The Writers Guild of America, West had already ruined me with meeting after fruitless meetings of a so-called Black Writers’ Committee. Plus I had been prowling the Hollywood pitch dens since the mid-to-late ’60s. My experiences were not pleasant—summed up when one White producer told me flat out, “Now that the Civil Rights Movement is over, we don’t have to be nice to you Blacks.”

PV: If you’d like, I can scan the article tomorrow at work and send you it via e-mail. It might serve as a good way into this conversation.

WC: You can if you want to, Paul. I’m fairly clear on my take.

PV: I recall the first two times I met you, both through the auspices of John Thomas, the first time being at his house in 1970, when, if I recall rightly, he was hosting your brother (I had his name the other day—George??—but then, like much else, it fled) and his French-Canadian wife. (I think they had just gotten married, but then again…).

WC: My brother George is 18 months my junior. His wife, Annie (Awn-knee) is from Toulon, France. George kept telling me about you “wild and crazy White boyz” up in the Mount Washington/Silverlake/Echo Park areas. The ring leader was Charles Bukowski, as I recall, with John as his second lieutenant. He said they were poets, which coincided with my passion (since the age of 5) to become a poet—to learn what a poet’s life was like. I wanted a close-up view. Plus I was still on shaky writing ground and knew I had not broken through, in terms of craft. (I had 3000+ rejection slips at the time). So I followed the trail George scouted, since he was living with his professor, Rose Idlet, renting out the basement. He was amazed by John and they became good friends—good enough to be invited to family outings. I was still married to my first husband Jerry Coleman at the time, an itinerant Baptist preacher, activist and former freedom rider. He was fascinated by John’s collection of stuff, and screamed with laughter when he saw that photograph of Lenny Bruce sitting on the throne—the one John kept pinned to the bathroom door.

I had spent enough time in San Francisco and the Bay Area to appreciate the cultural divide, starting with The Summer of Love. Indeed, I loved that city, and would come to regard it as my second home—particularly after my late ’60s association with Anna Halprin’s Dancers Workshop at 321 Divisadero, and spending time in San Rafael. But I had already gotten a whiff of it at the end of the Beat era, as Venice West went into its decline. I was still under legal age and couldn’t get into places like Shelley’s Manne-Hole or the hungry I (in S.F.), but I knew about them, more than I knew about “the grand California literary tradition.” I was still gaga about Shelley, Melville and St. Vincent Millay.

PV: Let me try, almost 40 years after, to give a summary of what in the world we, those of us behind the LA Poets Cooperative, had in mind. Those, as described in my 1975 report in Margins, who were “clearly disposed to re-evaluating the entire scene.” Some names and faces: Bill Mohr, Jim Krusoe, Tony Russo, Alvaro Cardona-Hine swim into focus. The crux of the matter was, in fact, an organization that might change how poetry was publicly presented vs. the “chamber-of-commerce” model (i.e., yet another service organization). At that one large meeting you mentioned, in the gallery at the back of the then Chatterton’s Bookstore in April 1974, the sticking point proved to be the question of picketing the UCLA series up in the Canyon Rec Center—an informational picket, of course, not the disruption of a reading. When some of us met soon after to evaluate that initial encounter (the names above and a few others I can’t rightly recall, though I’m pretty sure I dragged John Thomas along), it became obvious that our essential dissatisfaction with the poetry promoted by the then national poetry circuit (mostly East Coast and not very innovative, supplying venues like the UCLA series) wasn’t shared by many of the poets attending that meeting. The kind of poetry we found uninteresting and often downright second-rate didn’t seem so to others, whom we soon realized simply craved their piece of the good old American pie.

WC: Good morning Paul. Your article “Los Angeles Poets Cooperative: In Retrospect” was well written, if striking in its naiveté. To be fair: a great part of your problem was related to the general nature of writers and poets, and the long-term failure of American education to fully appreciate those who are exceptional creative entities as a complicating factor. By nature, as you know, American poets are selfish joiners, when they join at all, though that doesn’t necessarily mean being apolitical. Organizing for ad hoc situations may be possible, the way Bill Mohr attempted when Holly Prado was fired from The Los Angeles Times, but the power base has to be solid/strong. That usually demands the kind of hard work and dedication Americans (and most of my poetry landsmen, as I quickly discovered) don’t seem to have much of; and once it appears that a common goal has been reached, they quickly abandon the cause—either thinking they’ve been successful, or satisfied that they, at least, have their fair share of the pie (like you say) if the hoi polloi are still starving. That happened with the Civil Rights Movement, as current events so testify. And look at the sorry sack the Labor Movement has become.

PV: We did some follow-up inquiries with UCLA, mostly through Doris Kearns, who, while not entirely sympathetic, did listen and offered to host one “local” poet later that fall. (We never got anywhere with the simpletons in the English department at the university, who were prone to dismiss most West Coast poetry.) We somehow negotiated with Kearns to agree on a Bukowski reading, which proved a disaster, and that was the end of that.

WC: Sad but very funny, Paul. Hank hated doing poetry readings, and usually had to be pickled to the gills before emoting. And if he decided to get up and drop his drawers it could really be a scream.

PV: Looking back at my own attitude, I’m slightly chagrined, if not embarrassed, at the optimism I held for doing such a thing in a city like ours, Lost Angels (in the words of Tom McGrath) or the Big Nowhere (for the less kind James Elroy). Soon I got involved on a broader scope with other like-minded poets, at least in terms of political and poetic innovation, and my practical focus included not just Los Angeles and Northern California, but the nation as a whole, and Europe and South America as well.

I believed that a multi-leveled assault on the literary establishment could be mounted (prior to the digital paradigm shift soon to engulf everyone), but it needed to be smart and sophisticated in a use-fire-to-fight-fire way. It would have taken some mighty brainstorming to shape the strategy. Intellectual theft proves a hard lesson. As much as I loathe right-wingers who’ve run our culture and economy into the ground, I have to acknowledge their lethal brilliance.

My interest in translation and experimental forms, such as visual and sound poetry, grew as a result, and at the end of 1974 I took a job as Drama and Literature (which I soon changed to Cultural Affairs) Director at KPFK Radio. Though an entirely different tack, this proved to be a much more fruitful way to question and effect how literature was disseminated in our city.

WC: Well, at least you got paid for your work at Pacifica.

PV: Sorry for going on, but as Bob Crosson liked to say, “The past is a wicked place to remember.”

WC: Yes, Paul, our assessment of how poetry in the West (especially the Southwest) was ignored coincided, even if the ways in which we came to the same conclusions were quite different. On the Black-hand-side, a dictum was made in the late 60s that African Americans writing west of the Mississippi be kept out of the blossoming literary action. (This was confirmed 40 years later.) I had no direct knowledge of this dictum, but it wasn’t difficult to figure out. (I had the local, non-Black variety of those literary dictators to study as examples.) I was not writing to stay in the closet. I wanted attention. My rejection was swift and unrelenting. When I saw the kind of work that was being published, and eventually rewarded by the mainstream, I knew that subterfuge was at work. Not that the same kind of game isn’t being played today in various quarters. Our situation was not helped by the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and at a critical moment in the development of my generation in the 80s, that clown of an editor, Jack Miles, virtually dealt us a death blow by refusing to review our books.

At least former Mayor Villaraigosa finally got around to appointing an official Los Angeles Poet Laureate, a step in the right direction—which, I suspect, might have been a response to some local opprobrium to my being crowned “unofficial Poet Laureate” of the city. Someone gave me that title in print, Carolyn See, if I remember correctly.

I’m not sure what it is, Paul (I don’t know if anyone has come up with a word for it), but I have identified a common denominator or common characteristic (knowing?) that unites all poets under certain circumstances, regardless of style, school, race or region. And, short of mentioning it off-handedly to Austin, I haven’t bothered to find out if anyone else has noticed. I’ve observed it in group situations—such as sitting on arts-council panels. When a non-poet person is thrown into the mix, the others become tacitly guarded against the non-poet and may unite against her if motivated. I haven’t given this phenomenon a name. Perhaps it is a type of organic solidarity (Durkheim), or an organic collective consciousness. I have surmised that what makes anyone a poet is housed in the language center of the brain (bouncing off the work of Nancy C. Andreasen).

As for “boosterism”: I can’t fault cultural and political leaders for promoting the surface best a city has to offer. They’re doing the jobs for which they are hired, appointed or elected. Poets in Southern California are unfortunate in that we are eclipsed by the entertainment business. Bukowski was the exception. But as popular as Bukowski was—and may remain—I would never consider him in such an “aureate” post. And, as you well know, tradition demands that such positions go to those who are either deemed safe, fit into a specific political agenda, or are excellent beyond reproach. Not the sort of position one wants if one is a recluse, a rebel, a reprobate or a misanthrope. I think it’s disgusting but not surprising that The Times has not reviewed Bill Mohr’s Holdouts. We are the children of Robinson Jeffers and Tom McGrath.

But for practical matters of recognition for one’s work and building a readership, it seems that nowadays one has to be anointed by those who sit on the committees that award the major literary prizes, especially the prizes of 50Gs or more, the ones that aren’t democratic (ironic in this democratic republic), that are not open to competition, or those competitions that require entry fees (which many excellent but poor writers can’t afford). So money and connections are now at the root of literary pursuits, if one wants attention. Or was it always that way? A perverse twist on the system of patronage? Just like Hollywood.

Paul, you weren’t the only one who was naïve about literary U.S.A. Despite my being turned off by the WGAW of the day, I believed in myself and in poetry to such an extent, that, at the tender age of 32, I turned down a contract for 5 million dollars in order to sign a penniless contract with John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press. (They came in the same week. I couldn’t have both.) Fool that I was. Stupid me who believed her writing efforts would be duly noted, appreciated, and that she would sell lots of books and ascend to the American Literary Pantheon.

Hah! If I live long enough, I’ll put the gory details in a memoir. Now that books are going the way of dinosaurs, it appears one will no longer be able to publish, therefore will one perish? Will someone create an electronic book that one can autograph? Or has that been done already? Will the opportunity to be discovered posthumously become a thing of the past, ruling out “better late than never?” Will the literary world become as pornographic as the music business? A world in which, with few exceptions, only the beautiful and attractive mediocrities succeed while true singers are doomed to the background?

PV: Thanks for your considered words, which make me crave your memoir. Also, I appreciate that we’ve kept the “tales out of school” to a minimum, as I’m well aware that we both have a lot of those to share. (More need for the memoir?)  

WC: Paul, I love gossip as much as the next whisperer; however, I’m usually reluctant to name names publically because, as I have learned over the decades, the real enemy is often unseen, often systemic, and therefore unnamable. I call it “a conspiracy of circumstances”—particularly since racism has usually been at the root of my socio-economic difficulties.

PV: There’s something you said that I’d like to go back to. Stravinsky, who lived in our city longer than anywhere else, over 20 years (a few streets up from the old Tower Records on Sunset Strip), and who produced the majority of his mature work here, once said that what he treasured most about Los Angeles was its ‘”splendid isolation.” Looking back, is this why you’ve remained here? Is it what gave you the energy to remain?

WC: I like Stravinsky’s work; however, “splendid isolation” is a luxury for the privileged and those whose social mobility is not handicapped by poverty, stupidity or derangement—from my point-of-view, as a creative being whose desires and dreams have been stunted by gender, race, motherhood and region. Factor in those realities and you get “solitary confinement.”

I was born here, raised here and stuck here. Too, I also chased the Hollywood Dream in my 20s, with some luck and minor success. As my first marriage entered its throes, just before the Watts Riots, I got involved with Studio Watts, a workshop founded by poet and actress Jayne Cortez, James Wood and two of Jayne’s artist colleagues from New York. Their timing for opening the Studio was remarkable: just months before the riots. Suddenly, money and the cultural carpetbaggers were flooding into the area—well-intended efforts if misguided (like Johnson’s War on Poverty). Black couldn’t be Black enough. The buzz word was authenticity. One day the Studio phone rang and there was no one to answer it except me. The caller was from Universal Studios, and they were looking for a Black Writer. That led me to my first script sale for a Gene Barry episode of The Name of The Game, an NBC anthology series. It was titled “The Time is Now” and was nominated for an Emmy and an NAACP Image Award. Da Bug had bit. What better way for a now-single mom to support her two children? Little did I know.

A young man looked me up for an interview a couple of years ago, and brought me a copy of the show. He told me that he thought it was remarkably radical for its day, and that such strong material could not be produced in today’s cultural climate.

To make a long and complex story short, I’ve remained here largely because no other choice presented itself in a satisfactory manner. For example, I was offered a job as scriptwriter by a producer-director, which meant leaving my children with my mother and moving to Philadelphia for solid bucks. But once I accepted the offer, the next day, he changed up on me, reducing the offer to a dollar per typed page, which meant my automatic refusal. My so-called agent was oddly indifferent. Conspiracy? Yeah.

Enough scenes like that (like the time I was arrested for wearing a yellow head-wrap and dashiki in the wrong neighborhood while on my way to meet some Suits—another story for the memoir) and I was forced to enter the local pink-collar work force as secretary-receptionist. That meant barely enough money to cover living expenses, even when I worked three jobs at a time, let alone money to relocate. And at that time I didn’t know anyone rich enough and generous enough to support such a choice if I’d made it.

As for energy, Paul, you could say I was enraged at the injustices I was constantly encountering. I refused to succumb. What about yourself?

PV: After quitting KPFK in 1982, years of part-time teaching and odd jobs, like resurfacing hardwood floors or house painting. Having to pay child support (divorced in 1979) and medical bills for fortunately healthy son and daughter, living September-May from part-time paycheck to paycheck and then hustling summers to make it to that first check in September. It wasn’t until fall 1998, after 14 years of part-time teaching at Otis (no benefits, no pension), that I finally landed a full-time job, where I remain until retirement in 2016. Looking back, this kind of marginal life (not exactly bohemian in a place like LA) seems so improbable today, though back then it was the only route I could envision to being a poet.

WC: Didn’t you have a wife somewhere in there, Paul? Because maintaining Red Hill Press must’ve been a booger. Women usually make wonderful helpmates for the lucky creative man (like Pollock and Krasner), though the wife’s creativity often becomes secondary to the husband’s. I find that being one’s own secretary is an infernal drag. The husbands and boyfriends in the first third of my life did not understand the writer in me, and would not support her in any fashion.

PV: I left academe in 1972 with an ABD (unfinished dissertation on Ezra Pound) to drive a cab for five months, followed by a job at the Hollywood Reporter (the ultimate industry rag, if you recall), then almost a year of freelance music-writing, unemployment checks, food stamps—all this to support a family and maintain the conviction that one needed to write poems. Even my rather impetuous response of quitting the PhD after losing a two-year Fulbright to Italy (the State Department blocked my appointment because it deemed me a security risk, as a result of anti-war activity) seemed at the time less of a career setback than a somehow not unexpected barrier to writing.

Outside of the eight years at KPFK, when I didn’t feel estranged from literature and the arts by my job, time was generally given over to doing things that would give me the time to write poetry. As Kenneth Rexroth, a consummate hustler in his own right, said to me in an interview in 1976, the poet needs to find a way “to live in the interstices of society.” To inhabit those gaps where one might survive to make poems. Sounds, at the moment, a little romantic, and I’m not sure at all possible today. But that’s what I tried to do…

WC: Heavy. Ditto temporarily on food stamps and/or Medi-Cal when needed to care for my children. Ditto unemployment checks. Decent childcare was my major bane. Couldn’t get a scholarship to anywhere, so I opted to chase grants between answering ads in the Los Angeles Times, scoring occasional work as a men’s magazine editor, or part-time copywriter. My third jobs were usually as a waitress or bartender. Tragically, you were treated as a subversive, Paul—the bane of thinkers since Socrates. The police profiled me as if I were a Black Male Suspect, compounding my difficulties. No hemlock, plenty of handcuffs.

Yes, romantic. Those odd jobs, either drudgery, adventuresome or both, that once sustained the working-class poor, and allowed more than a few artists and writers to survive while they honed their crafts, without “selling out” (whatever that meant) or becoming institutionalized, have virtually disappeared today, have been taken over by new arrivals, or made obsolete by new technological developments. Often, those situations (as Bukowski illustrates in Post Office and Factotum) ultimately made great material for stories, songs and other works of art. The sacrifices one made to stay out of the mainstream for the sake of one’s art seemed to have their merits and rewards. What Rexroth did not foresee was the eradication of the economic “interstices.” The Reagan era closed those gaps permanently. Today, when asked about that kind of bohemian lifestyle by students, I emphasize that it’s no longer the romantic option it may have seemed at one time, and urge them to get that degree, no matter how long it takes. Too—I emphasize that my choices were circumscribed.

PV: Realized I forgot to respond to your question about having a wife back then when I and my friend John McBride were trying to get Red Hill Press and Invisible City off the ground. Yes, I was married from 1967-1979 (divorce official in 1980), and my ex was ideal in the sense that she backed whatever crazy, sometimes extravagant literary scheme I got up to. She was/is a great reader—one of her favorite activities, that and taking walks. As long as I somehow kept our family afloat, she didn’t mind my staying up all hours working on this book or that, or doing my own writing.

We (Red Hill) got its start by trading some typesetting equipment (liberated from the student newspaper at our university) for the printing of two books at a small-job printer in Albany, California. After that we begged, borrowed and stole to keep the press going until we were eligible for grants of which, we regularly got one a year for the press, as well as for the mag Invisible City. The money mostly came from CCLM (Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines) and the NEA. Between 1970-82 we managed just over 60 titles, don’t ask me how. Though we consulted on everything, McBride did most of the production work and I most of the editing. As you may recall, the press and the mag always bore the location Los Angeles/San Francisco. We saw ourselves as a California venture, way out West.

With Reagan, of course, the public money dried up. Publishers were prodded, coerced and ultimately forced to be “commercial,” and so the independent publishing scene mostly dried up in the ’80s.

As we near our 6,000-word limit, I’m wondering if you have an idea for ending this conversation. Is there something you think appropriate for closing? However different our approaches, will the kind of independent (need I say working-class) writing both of us practice be consigned to the past, i.e., to the 20th Century? I’d like to think not….

WC: Good Morning, Paul. I’ve been ill throughout our entire conversation, so I hope I’ve made sense. I lost sight of the word limit. I hate to parrot the evening news, but: the working class we once belonged to was consigned to the past well over 50 years ago, when our economic leaders decided to take the American worker down closer to the level of the rest of the underpaid laborers in the world, and began moving vital industry overseas (globalization? haha)—as we became “a nation of service,” with the aid of ignorant and/or corrupt or ineffective legislators and political leaders. It is no coincidence that we have over 400 billionaires and 182,000 millionaires who now suck up all the wealth, while the huge majority of Americans are living at or below the poverty line, and one million Black men glut our nation’s prisons. Slavery was never abolished. It was morphed, transformed and upgraded. By underfunding and crippling academic excellence in our public-school systems, the men and women at the top maintain a source pool of humanity they will continue to exploit for their gain. And only the truly lucky and the true geniuses will overcome. The rest of us are doomed. So to answer your question: yes. One caveat: it was always my hope that my subject matter, racism, would go out of fashion—that things would improve in our society to such an extent (my work a small contribution to that improvement), that the emotional conflicts I grew up with would be vanished from the lives of those young Blacks coming after me. Today’s students (Blacks, Whites and Latinos) tell me that these base matters of human interaction have not changed, and, in that very sad respect, my work has not gone out of date.

PV: This is probably a good, if sobering place to close. Doesn’t get more eloquent than your final comments on the state of our “perishing republic” (Jeffers’ phrase).

As we began with your recollection of a night in 1974, I’d like to take you back to an afternoon in the fall of 2002, to a panel you were part of, for “Place as Purpose: Poetry from the Western States.” (Your work was also included in the anthology of the same name, co-published by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage and Sun & Moon Press.) You and others on the panel insisted on a kind of realism that distinguished the West—call it an attempt to orient oneself in the external world, the curiouser and curiouser physical reality we are daily confronted with here. Other poets, particularly from Northern California, objected from the audience that for poetry today and going forward, only the mind was real. But you held fast, in spite of the rather condescending attitude of the so-called innovative poets. In that moment, as you explained how what we’re daily confronted with in our starkly (some might say surrealistically) pragmatic West demands the poet’s attention, my admiration for you and your work was entirely renewed. I once again had the feeling that your poetry and its attempt to make a music of angeltown offered a direction for young poets and writers that was surely lacking in other, rather academic alternatives. It was an important moment for me to relearn a basic lesson.

 


Wanda Coleman was born in Watts in 1946 and raised in South Central Los Angeles. In 1971, she began her 30-year association with Black Sparrow, during which she published sixteen books of poetry and prose. She received literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation for poetry. Her honors in fiction included a fellowship from the California Arts Council and the 1990 Harriet Simpson Arnow Prize from The American Voice. She received the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for Bathwater Wine. Her collection Mercurochrome: New Poems was a bronze-medal finalist for the 2001 National Book Awards in Poetry and a finalist for the 2002 Paterson Poetry Prize. Coleman died late last year after a long illness.

Paul Vangelisti is the author of some twenty books of poetry, as well as being a noted translator from Italian. In addition to his new book Wholly Falsetto with People Dancing, (an older man’s not-so-divine comedy), his most recent book of poems, Two, appeared in 2011. In 2006, Vangelisti and Lucia Re’s translation of Amelia Rosselli’s War Variations won both the Premio Flaiano in Italy and the PEN-USA Award for Translation. In 2010, his translation of Adriano Spatola’s The Position of Things: Collected Poems, 1961-1992 won the Academy of American Poets Raizzis/de Palchi Book Prize for Translation. From 1971-1982 he was co-editor, with John McBride, of the literary magazine Invisible City and, from 1993-2002, edited Ribot, the annual report of the College of Neglected Science. Currently, with Luigi Ballerini, he is editing a six-volume anthology of U.S. poetry from 1960 to the present, Nuova poesia americana, for Mondadori in Milan. Vangelisti is Founding Chair of the Graduate Writing program at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles.

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