Spotlight: Poetry.LA, video showcase of Southern CA poets and venues

Wayne Lindberg and Hilda Weiss are writers, Angelenos and the founding duo of www.Poetry.LA, an online video showcase of Southern Californian poets and venues.  They’ve been documenting and archiving poetry readings since 2007, and have acquired over 300,000 hits on YouTube for their videos.  Their wide scope is incredible, covering established poetry institutions, such as Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA to performance poetry venues, such as Da’ Poetry Lounge in Hollywood.  Poetry.LA captures the diversity and pulse of Southern California’s poetry communities, revealing its’ powerful and dynamic voice.

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Below are selected videos from Poetry.LA’s archive:

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Rachelle Cruz: What compelled you to start www.Poetry.LA?

Hilda Weiss: Around the time I was getting more involved with my poetry and going to readings around L.A., YouTube was just taking off. Suddenly, there was this free technology for distributing homegrown videos to the world and Wayne wondered what would happen if we videotaped poets reading in Southern California and posted the performances on YouTube. Four years later, we are still learning the answer. Our first audience was ourselves. I could re-experience a reading and learn more about a poet’s work and delivery style. Wayne noticed that when poets present their work, the mixture of poetry and personality often created intimate theatrical moments. Our videos are preserving these events for people to watch anytime, anywhere.

RC: How long have you been recording poets’ readings/performances and interviews in the Los Angeles area?

HW: Our first taping was at Redondo Poets at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach in January, 2007, and we’ve taped somewhere pretty much on a monthly basis ever since.

RC: What is your selection process in choosing different readings to attend since there are so many happening in Southern California?

HW: Our selection process is casual, but follows some basic criteria. Since I want to become more familiar with quality poets, we look for readings that feature established poets and newcomers who are gaining a reputation. In terms of venues, we started with some of the longest running ones such as Redondo Poets, World Stage, Beyond Baroque, and Cobalt Poets. We want to tape at as many well known spots as possible in the region. That has taken us to over twenty locations including Da’ Poetry Lounge, The Ugly Mug, The Ruskin, Moonday, Third Area, and Ave. 50 Studio. We’re always looking for venues, especially ones that reflect Southern California’s diverse voices.

RC: What are some of your favorite poetry venues?

HW: We’ve been happy to discover that each venue has its own distinct flavor, traditions and style. Each has a unique place in the SoCal “poetry monde”—as Suzanne Lummis would say—and each is our “favorite” when we’re there.

RC: What has surprised you about running www.Poetry.LA?

HW: The first surprise was how many talented poets and strong venue hosts we have in SoCal. We have a long way to go to capture them all. Another surprise is how many viewings the younger slam poets receive. Within weeks, many of their videos are watched by thousands on YouTube. These poets know how to promote their work online!

RC: What reactions have you received from poets and audiences?

HW: Venue hosts and poets have been very gracious in responding to our requests to tape performances and interviews. The audience for www.Poetry.LA is poets and their fans who view our videos online. At the moment, our total number of YouTube viewings is over 300,000. Our stats tell us most of our audience is in California, but we also get hits from all over the U.S., Western Europe, Mexico, South America, and Japan.

RC: Who are some of your favorite L.A./SoCal poets?

HW: Some poets impress me with their presentation, some with their content. I find the experience of watching their videos enriches my life as a poet and a fan of poetry. A good poet by definition has a unique voice. So, it doesn’t really occur to me to rank the many good SoCal writers. Now, as a video editor, Wayne usually favors poets who have an engaging presentation style.

RC: Who are some of your favorite poets living outside of Southern California?

HW: Some poets who have special resonance for me in terms of the work I’m doing now include Kay Ryan, W.S. Merwin, Linda Gregg, Tomas Transtromer, and Jane Kenyon.

RC: What’s coming up for www.Poetry.LA in 2011?

HW: On Saturday, April 16, we will be doing an event called “Lights, Camera, Poets!” at Beyond Baroque in Venice featuring some wonderful poets reading work with an online video theme and we’ll be screening a montage of performance highlights from videos we’ve shot over the last four years. Another project that we have planned is to work on getting non-profit status for Poetry.LA. Also, of course, we are continuing to tape poets at a variety of venues in SoCal.

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Wayne Lindberg and Hilda Weiss - co-founders of Poetry.LA

Wayne Lindberg Wayne Lindberg is a Los Angeles-based writer and videographer. His short fiction collection, Cary Malone and Other Stories was published by Nothing Moments Press in 2007. His plays have been produced by various Los Angeles theatre companies over the past 30 years, including Pacific Repertory Theatre Ensemble, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Public Works and the Venice Mooney Company. Wayne is the co-founder and producer of www.Poetry.LA.

Hilda Weiss Hilda Weiss’ poetry has been published in Askew, RATTLE, Margie, Poemeleon, Salamander and Writers at Work among other publications. Her chapbook, Optimism about Trees, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2011. She is an active Kundalini yoga student and holds a 4th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate. Hilda is the co-founder and artistic director of www.Poetry.LA.

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One Response to Spotlight: Poetry.LA, video showcase of Southern CA poets and venues

  1. Pingback: Three Spring Readings | Rachelle Cruz

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