Concrete Rivers: The Emotional Topography of LA

In conversation with Lynell George
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Episode Summary
Two celebrated poets read from their most recent work and discuss how Los Angeles has influenced their writing, how some influences overlap and others diverge. Born in Watts, Wanda Coleman witnessed Simon Rodia working on the Towers firsthand. Coleman's work is often concerned with the outsider, both in terms of race and poverty in California. Lewis MacAdams is a poet, journalist, filmmaker, and activist who has written on topics ranging from cultural history to the environment. Known as the Los Angeles River's most influential advocate, he co-founded the Friends of the LA River (FoLAR) and dubbed it \"a forty year art work.\"

Participant(s) Bio
Wanda Coleman was born in Watts and raised in South Central Los Angeles and has lived California from San Francisco to the Mexican border. The author of 18 books of poetry and prose, she is featured in Writing Los Angeles (2002), and Black California (2010). She has been an Emmy-winning scriptwriter and a former columnist for Los Angeles Times Magazine. Her honors include Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and a 2004 C.O.L.A. Fellowship in literature from the Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles. Her most recent books include Ostinato Vamps; The Riot Inside Me: Trials & Tremors; Jazz & Twelve O'Clock Tales and a new collection of poems, The World Falls Away.

Lewis MacAdams is a Texas native and the author of more than a dozen books of poetry including, the most recent, Dear Oxygen. In 1970 he moved to Bolinas, a small town in West Marin County, California, where he became one of the few American poets ever to be elected to public office. In 1985, he founded Friends of the Los Angeles River, a 40-year art work to bring the Los Angeles River back to life. He remains the organization's president. His book Birth of the Cool, a history of the idea of cool, was chosen one of the best non-fiction books of the year for 2001 by the Los Angeles Times.

Lynell George is an L.A.-based journalist and essayist. A longtime staff writer for both the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly, she covers books, music, visual art, social issues and identity politics. Her work has also appeared in Vibe, Essence, The Smithsonian, Black Clock and Boom: A Journal of California. George is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she teaches journalism.

Photo: LAPL Photo collection