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Robert Lundquist, After Mozart (Heroin on 5th Street)

Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 7:00pm

Celebrate National Poetry Month with a special reading by poet Robert Lundquist.

Robert Lundquist was one of the rising stars of the Santa Cruz renaissance. By the early 1970s he was published in the Paris Review, anthologized in Raymond Carver’s magazine Quarry West, and listed in Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘Best 100 American Poets.' This is Lundquist’s first major work. Discover a lost genius in these pages. 

These poems were written in bursts over five decades. From 1969 to 1973, from 1980 to 1985, and from 2014 to 2018. Lundquist has an extraordinarily sensitive voice deeply engaged with the works of García Lorca, César Vallejo, Paul Celan, James Wight, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery. He addresses themes of love, loss, alcoholism, and emotional pain. He meditates on death, romance, and beauty with wild formal experiments and a visceral, surreal vision that is all his own. 

Central to his poetry is the changing spirit of Downtown L.A. The poet was raised and has lived his entire life there. His grandmother was a waitress in Union Station and his father an undercover policeman. Some darker chapters are inspired by a stint living next to skid row. The neighbourhoods of DTLA - the automobiles, diners, bars, porches, birds, and characters they contain - are evoked here with a noir melancholy and hallucinatory brilliance. 

Until now most of this great work was available only in magazine archives, anthologies, and out-of-print chapbooks. Lundquist was previously led away from publishing by a rejection of the MFA culture that came to dominate American letters, struggles with addiction, the anxiety of influence, and a commitment to his psychoanalytic practice. A renewed interest in Lundquist’s work in recent years has resurrected his need to create, and we are all the better for it. 

"The poetry of Robert Lundquist is distinctive for a certain vulnerability, as sensitive as plasmodium, and as impalpable, suggesting a virtual seethe of interior quickening, only minimally obscured by his skin. Thus, the poem as skin becomes the membrane of his feeling, and he keeps it in play by the blood-seethe in his veins. His poetics are conventionally correct: Mainstream post-modern--oblique, understated, non denotative, susceptibility to pain rather than imposing it."  — William Everson (Brother Antoninus)

Robert Lundquist

Robert Lundquist is a poet and practicing psychoanalyst in Los Angeles. Robert is also an avid blues harmonica player. His poems have appeared in such magazines as: The Nation, The Paris Review, Poetry Now, Kayak, and Quarry West.Robert was also one of five writers who taught poetry in the prison system in California, afterwards editing an anthology of prose and poetry by the writers in prison;, the anthology is entitled About Time II. When Robert is not with his wife, Nazare Magaz, or writing, he is seeing patients in his office above The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles. Robert knows a lot about the inner workings of Downtown Los Angeles as his Grandmother was a waitress at Union Station and his father was an under cover cop, chasing down heroin dealers when smack was coming through Flower Street. Included in his adventures in DTLA was entering Zen Center Los Angeles for two years when he was eighteen and in his adolescence taking harmonica lessons from George Smith in Watts. Robert began to write poetry at twenty and at twenty-one moved to Santa Cruz, California, to be a part of a literary renaissance in Santa Cruz where he was featured in the magazine Quarry West started by Ray Carver.