In today’s poetry news update, we bring you the story about a poetry hub in Los Angeles that is facing closure and possible demolition.
Cultural Oasis in LA May be Demolished
The city of Los Angeles has announced what many are terming a decision to engage in an act that will amount to cultural vandalism. Whilst the scheme in question is just a small part of the destruction that has been announced for this year, it is still of some significance.
In the late 1950s, the area was a place where painters, poets and would-be musicians gathered together and eventually formed a movement that would lead to not only a revolution in popular music but also one in the way in which poetry was both read and written. The movement was the Beat or Beatnik era and whilst it is true that this was of significant importance in New York City’s Greenwich Village and North Beach in San Francisco, it was of significant importance to Los Angeles as well.
Whilst some of the poets, artists and musicians who rose to fame here had always been in Los Angeles, many of them flocked to the area to be part of something much bigger. Names like Jim Morrison, who later went on to form The Doors, Lawrence Lipton, and the poet Claire Horner are linked to the area. Everything that happened took place in Venice West, a coffee house
Venice West only lasted for a few years and whilst this was followed by other waves of poetry and music in the area, this was pretty much all that there was until the opening of Sacred Grounds. This was somewhere where local music and local artists alike were appreciated and encouraged to share their talents. A committee for cultural arts held their meetings here and Sacred Grounds also gave birth to the movement that was set up to save the Department of Cultural Arts in the city. Whilst over the years Sacred Grounds has been forced to find a new location as a result of real estate issues, it has remained an important part of the arts scene in Los Angeles.
Now the site where it can be found is under threat. The coffee house is a part of the Warner Grand Theatre complex which is due to close for around two years for significant renovation works to take place and now it would appear that Sacred Grounds will also be being forced to close for the duration as well, although there are plenty of arguments for keeping it open and suggesting that its lengthy closure is unnecessary. Unfortunately it would appear that the city, who own the space, want it back with plans to rent it out as office space in the future.
As the last bastion of that former cultural movement within the city, there is opposition to these plans and an online petition has already appeared. In the short time since it went live, it already has over 3000 signatures.
The building also has links to the poet Charles Bukowski, who drank coffee here and did much of his writing in the space that it offered.