As much as this era is defined by division – even in the poetry world – most poets and writers share far more commonalities than differences, even if they are from different regions. Such complex similarities across geographical distance and wandering-bard careers in difference are reunited in Cross-Strokes: Poetry Between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a recent California poetry anthology published by Otis Books/Seismicity Editions. The collection is comprised of 35 poets and many more specters of comparison. Many of the voices are well known writers like Kenneth Rexroth, Francisco X. Alarcón, Nathaniel Mackey, former San Francisco Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia, David Meltzer, Jack Hirschman, Jack Spicer, Lewis MacAdams, and Paul Vangelisti. There are also lesser-known but nonetheless skilled writers like Bruce Boyd, Michelle T. Clinton, S.A. Griffin, Richard Garcia, Phoebe MacAdams, and Kevin Opstedal. Cross-Strokes spotlights these unfamiliar and mysterious poets, revealing strengths that rival their well-known counterparts. Edited by Neeli Cherkovski and Bill Mohr, the anthology was a five-year project that goes a long way to show that Los Angeles and the Bay Area have much more in common than some of their respective poets would sometimes like to admit.
The collection is bookended by essays from each of the editors. Neeli Cherkovski’s brief “Preface” explicates their selection process and the ethos of the anthology. “Cross-Strokes extends the idea of an anthology based on geography. There have been many regional anthologies before, usually centered in major cities, but this one is more rare, more of an oddity.” He explains the commonalities between the two regions and their shared poetic history dating back to the Spanish past, the rapid growth in the early 20th Century along with the spirit of the Beat poets in both North Beach, San Francisco and Venice West. The book chronicles poets from locations immediately adjacent to Los Angeles and the Bay Area such as Bolinas, Berkeley, Cal State L.A., Long Beach, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Collectively, the 35 poets in this collection go a long way towards mapping West Coast poetic history.
Wanderlust along the Shores
The transitory life of poets often requires being nomadic; thus the independent and restless spirit of West Coast poets. As Cherkovski declares, “This book is a gathering of many voices --- poets of the same terrain walking many roads.” Mohr reaffirms the defining temperament of the book in his concluding essay, where he writes: “While both Los Angeles and San Francisco possess a radiant charisma distinctive unto themselves, the West Coast is even more powerful in exerting its subtle wanderlust along its shores.” Though there are a number of poets in the book that have been loosely affiliated with the Beat Generation group of poets, the anthology is an eclectic selection of aesthetic styles from the San Francisco Renaissance, avant-garde Surrealists to street poets.
One of the quintessential poets in the anthology is David Meltzer, who has associated with several of the movements noted above. Connected to the Bay Area for the last 55 years, he first arrived on the West Coast, where he landed in Hollywood. “I relocated to Hollywood when I was 16,” Meltzer told me last year. “I was exiled from Brooklyn. Took a sabbatical from high school and worked at an open air newsstand on Western & Hollywood Blvd. Saved by movies, jazz, the library, I remember going regularly to the Highland/Hollywood newsstand and saw my first City Lights book -- Ferlinghetti's Pictures of a Gone World which knocked my funky sweat socks off.” A few years later in 1957, Meltzer moved to the Bay Area and by 1960, he was the youngest contributor to Donald Allen’s anthology, New American Poetry. His poem, “The Veil,” in the anthology deftly meditates on the difference, “between what’s called heart / and the real evil.”
Organized alphabetically, the first poet in the anthology is Francisco X. Alarcón, who passed away shortly after the text was published. Born in Southern California in 1954, Alarcón was close comrades with current National Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera dating back to their time together at Stanford in the Bay Area in the late 1970s. Six of Alarcón’s poems are included, three of which are also translated into Spanish as well as printed in English. In the poem, “Poor Poets,” Alarcón laments the plight of financially impoverished poets who,
courteous as ever
they ask empty
for permission to sit
not even they
why wings sprout
on their shoulders
maybe one day
they’ll finally use
that key they carry
forever in their pocket.
In the following poems, “From the Other Side of Night,” “Of Dark Love,” “Mestizo,” and the “X in My Name,” Alarcón meditates on overlapping identity in Aztlan and North America. These overlapping layers are a signature theme in his career and also connect to this anthology’s efforts to juxtapose competing narratives of geography.
The next poet, Bruce Boyd, “Zen poet of Venice West” studied in San Francisco with Robert Duncan in San Francisco. Participant in the San Francisco Renaissance, he later came back down to Venice and serving as one of the figureheads of the Venice West cadre. Boyd’s well-known “Venice Recalled” appears here and captures the urgency and excitement of the Venice movement where, “a new poem was something / the making, something / that asked to be shared at once.” This piece is explicated in great detail by Mohr in his 2011 monograph, Hold Outs: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance, 1948-1992. In this earlier book, Mohr writes that, “Boyd’s oscillation between San Francisco and Venice is yet another piece of the mosaic in which poets on the West Coast are using the entire stretch of the territory to test out possibilities of parallel community.” Mohr goes on to explain how, “The poem is closer in its lyric strategy and central theme to Wallace Stevens’s ‘Of Modern Poetry’ than to avant-garde experiment.” This poem was published in Donald Allen’s 1960 anthology, New American Poetry. Boyd mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again after 1969.
From Bukowski to Multicultural Poetry
Born in Santa Monica, Cherkovski has engaged deeply in West Coast Poetry since his early 20s when he co-edited both a magazine and an anthology in the early 1970s. Cherkovski and Charles Bukowski’s Laugh Literary and Man the Hunting Guns appeared just before 1971’s Anthology of L.A. Poets, co-edited this time with Bukowski and Paul Vangelisti. Cherkovski, who moved to the Bay Area in the mid-1970s, has an extensive oeuvre including poetry and several literary biographies: Ferlinghetti: A Biography, Whitman’s Wild Children and Bukowski: A Life. In the Bukowski biography, Cherkovski shares many stories of his journeys across Los Angeles with the “Dirty Old Man.” Among his four poems included in Cross-Strokes, “To the Poet at Twenty,” echoes sentiments Cherkovski must have heard from Bukowski: ‘you will not stay young / your sound will deepen.”
Michelle T. Clinton made big waves in the Southern California poetry scene during the 1980s and 90s with her published poetry, spoken word recordings, anthologies she edited and her Beyond Baroque poetry workshops. Clinton co-edited Invocation L.A. in 1989 along with Sesshu Foster and Naomi Quiñonez. This collection, subtitled, “Urban Multicultural Poetry,” was a groundbreaking book that went along way to demonstrate the range of poetry being produced in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. Clinton’s workshops are where writers like the late great Michele Serros and Pam Ward started their ascendancy into literary Los Angeles. Moreover, Clinton’s 1992 spoken word recording “Black Angeles,” on New Alliance Records with Wanda Coleman remains a watershed moment in Los Angeles poetry.
In “Manifesting the Rush/How to Hang,” Clinton offers a litany of ways to survive and thrive in the big city with an edgy, tongue-in-cheek tone that still holds up 30 years after she wrote it. Clinton advises, “Laugh at everything you can” and concludes, “Never sleep with anybody crazier than you. Unless you up for a wild ride. Keep your hands cupped over your heart. Do not fall in love.” Though she has been a less active writer over the last two decades, she was so influential during the apex of her career that her work still resonates.
San Francisco plays a role here. City resident Sharon Doubiago was born in Los Angeles and she is one of several poets in the collection to study at Cal State L.A. Over the last 50 years, poet-professors there—Thomas McGrath, Henri Coulette, Timothy Steele and Lauri Ramey—have mentored young bards. In addition to being a poet, Doubiago is an award-winning fiction writer. Her poems, “100 Memories I Don’t Remember,” and “Abalone,” discuss the Los Angeles River and Terminal Island within their complex narratives. The San Francisco-born poet Richard Garcia’s clever sestina, “Dreaming of Sheena,” along with two other poems—“Their Words,” and “Naked City”— possess an irreverent tone and clever wordplay. The latter begins, “She was the kind of gal who would look elegant / even if she was wearing nothing but handcuffs.” Garcia’s subtle poetic humor is another pervasive trope in Cross-Strokes.
Street Generation Not Beat Generation
The spirit of the streets cuts across the book. Bay Area-born S.A. Griffin, who came of age during the Punk Rock era and found his voice in the Los Angeles art community in the late 1970s and 80s, has four poems here. Titles alone give a sense of the ethos “I Choose Not to Believe in War Holy or Not,” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” which notes, “she was more beautiful/than I could have known at the time/Vietnam was waiting for me/rents were cheap & inflation/was just approaching upon the/landscape of our Yankee lexicon/if we only knew.” These days Griffin travels the country performing poetry with a 7-foot “bomb”—painted and filled with hundreds of poems.
A generation before he became the San Francisco Poet Laureate, the incendiary Jack Hirschman was a professor at UCLA, where he taught figures like Jim Morrison and Michael C. Ford during the 1960s. Hirschman was later fired for his political views, which included open encouragement for students burning draft cards. Before departing LA for San Francisco in 1973, he penned “The Burning of Los Angeles,” a canonical work poem of Southern California. (It features in Laurence Goldstein’s Poetry Los Angeles (2014)). The poem is one of the three Hirschman pieces in Cross-Strokes and it depicts the surreal and eerie atmosphere every Angeleno has experienced during fire season with the Santa Ana Winds. Hirschman begins: “Smelled her before the eyes saw her/going east from the sea on Sunset/got a whiff of her through the smog valved exhausts/nagging motor grind of the winding road/She was lining them up for miles at the pass/of the freeway under me.” Fire, in Hirschman’s characterization, is a powerful woman, a mesmerist and conjurer in the ecology of Los Angeles. The poem captures both 60s-era hillside and political fires in the Southern California imagination, their inducement of quasi-apocalyptic fear.
Hirschman’s vital work, which takes place at the intersection of politics and poetry, street and academy, began in concert with his youthful career in the latter; his exit from academia and his intensifying Marxist outlook across the decades have worked doggedly against the current. Hirschman’s poetry for the people is rooted in the streets; he has marked innumerable community poets on the West Coast. In an interview with David Meltzer (collected in San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (City Lights, 2001)), Hirschman says, “I see a street generation rather than the Beat Generation. Poets like Bobby Kaufman and Jack Micheline are the ones I identify with.”
Stephen Kessler was one of the poets in Hirschman’s UCLA class in 1966 and the Los Angeles native eventually moved up to Santa Cruz for graduate study. Kessler emerged as editor of Alcatraz, which published Bukowski, Coleman and F.A. Nettelbeck. “Synchronicity” recalls a wandering writer Kessler met one day in Hirschman’s class. Later Kessler saw the nomadic poet hitchhiking up Highway 1: “The bridge of his disbelief was blown---/it got him going---/all the way into the city he spewed prophecy.” The other two Kessler poems, “Vallejo Remembers,” and “Chaos Theory,” participate in a similar fantastical irony. In “Chaos Theory,” Kessler exclaims, “Do the math. / It all adds up. Saul Bellow said so. / One is born under a deadline with no outline. / You open up the blank blue book for the final and let fly.” Such spontaneity is a central thread in Cross-Strokes.
Bolinas to Los Angeles
Lewis MacAdams, author of over 12 books of poetry, numerous articles, and a book on the Beat Generation and jazz, The Birth of the Cool, was one of the youngest members of the New York School before he pursued graduate studies with Charles Olson at the University of Buffalo. MacAdams left New York in 1970 and lived in Bolinas, California, from 1970 to 1980. During this time, MacAdams served for three years as the director of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University and began working in environmental activism.
By the time he came to Los Angeles in 1980, MacAdams was very much an “eco-poet,” and this stance inevitably led him to start the Friends of the Los Angeles River in 1985-86. “The Soccer Field” reveals the man versus nature theme that MacAdams has indefatigably engaged through the course of his career. He contemplates the futility of curbing man’s restless pursuit of progress and development when he writes, “It’s like holding back the future with a string. / the hunger that is driving these people / is more powerful than an electronic battlefield.” MacAdams’ battlefield career he continues to this day. His collected poems, Dear Oxygen (2011), contains almost five decades of poems that grapple with the relationship between nature and the city.
Phoebe MacAdams, the ex-wife of MacAdams, now remarried and known as Phoebe Ozuna, is listed in the anthology as Phoebe MacAdams. The 25-year veteran English teacher at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights near East Los Angeles, she is also one of the co-founders of Cahuenga Press, a Los Angeles-based imprint. The first poem of hers here, “Happy Birthday Bolinas,” is dedicated to her longtime friend Joanne Kyger, icon of Bolinas poets. The following poems, “The Sounds of the City,” and “The Memory of Light,” combine candid observation with a transcendental tone. “I remember when the days unraveled / in tangles of children and chocolate / fierce daisies and bodhisattvas / when only the protection of / poetry stopped me at street corners / as our cars reeled out of control.” Each of Phoebe MacAdams’ poems in this collection pulse with the restless West Coast spirit.
The National Book Award winner Nathaniel Mackey follows Phoebe MacAdams. Mackey’s surrealist jazz poetics have brought him many book awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He taught at USC during the 1970s and then spent 31 years teaching at UC Santa Cruz until 2010. This early experience in Los Angeles marks Mackey's epistolary novel, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate; the protaganist-musician N leads an LA-based post-free jazz group. Cross-Strokes includes ad excerpt of Mackey’s “Song of the Andoumboulou,” which makes pointed allusion to Santa Cruz among its many-faceted evocations, from the myth to The Middle Passage: "Sarod strings dispatching the fog / from Lone Coast, fallaway shore / they lay washed up on..." Mackey’s poetics play with paronomasia like an outdriven saxophone doing harmonics and quartertones. Witness the poem’s opening: “Asked his name, he said, / ’Stra, short for stranger.’ / Sang it. Semisaid, semisung. / ’Stronjer?’ I asked, semisang, / half in jest. ‘Stronger,’ / he / whatsaid back. Knotted / highness, loquat highness, / rope turned inward, tugged. / Told he’d someday ascend.” Amid dense assonance, alliteration, and internal rhyme, he turns the sonic-sematic relation inside out. His intellectual music remains among the most important work being done today.
As mentioned in the beginning of this essay, David Meltzer was a quintessential West Coast poet with deep roots in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Meltzer is one of the only scribes that intersected with both the Venice West writers and the cadre known as the San Francisco Renaissance. Meltzer’s most recent books have been published by City Lights and he taught for many years at the New College of California in San Francisco. Meltzer even released a few musical albums with a group of musicians in the 1960s and 70s. His jazz poem in the book, “The Veil,” reflects on, “the moment when nothing is left.”
The recent San Francisco Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguía grew up in Los Angeles and went to LA City College before moving up to the Bay Area like so many poets do. In 1976, when he was 26, Murguía became first director of the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco’s legendary Mission District. His activism with youth and community issues around San Francisco as well as with the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua over the last three plus decades made him a popular choice for San Francisco’s sixth Poet Laureate in 2012. His prose poem in the anthology, “Caracas is Not Paris,” epitomizes his international awareness. In the work, Murguia recalls Cesar Vallejo’s time in Paris and his celebrated tome about that time of his life, Poemas Humanos: “My copy of Poemas Humanos so read and re-read and yet not a place mark on it, my dog-eared page, not one fold or wrinkle on it, but worn down at the spine from the many times it has been cracked open in Paris, Mexico City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the pages yellowed, frail and brittle like our lives.”
Murguía is followed in the anthology by the venerated Beat poet Harold Norse who passed in 2009 at 93 years old. One of Norse’s poems in the anthology, “At the Cafe Trieste,” recalls the Golden Age of music of Ancient Greece and Rome and connects it to the spirit of North Beach, San Francisco. The poet asks: “Will the Golden Age ever come?/ Same faces throw up each generation,/ same races, emotions, struggles!/ all those centuries, those countries!/languages, songs, discontents!/They return here in San Francisco/as I sit in the Cafe Trieste.” Norse wants to remind us that, “this is the only Golden Age/there’ll ever be.”
Between Surf Surrealism and California Zen
Then there are lesser-known, mysterious writers tucked in like Kevin Opstedal. Venice-born, now forty-year Santa Cruz resident Opstedal leans on enchantment, a surf surrealism. In “Playa de los Muertos” his register is pure California, echoing a Jeff Spicoli like, “Once on a beach just north of Malibu I left my body for a while I think.” The next two poets following Opstedal are among the best known in the collection: Stuart Perkoff and Kenneth Rexroth. Perkoff is generally considered the poet laureate of the Venice West poets from the late 1950s until he passed in 1974 and Rexroth was a leading figure in the San Francisco Renaissance from the 1940s well into the 1960s. Perkoff’s poem, “Letter to Jack Hirschman,” asserts, “Let’s insist on vision / I will accept nothing less than miracles.” Perkoff’s career is mythical in many poetic circles for his spontaneity and carefree spirit. Both street and Beat, he wandered Venice exclaiming poetry and making trips up to San Francisco.
Rexroth, though associated with the Beats, was tersely influenced by Chinese and Japanese poetic sensibilities. His work exhibits more minimalism than many of his peers. Rexroth lived the last 14 years of his life in Santa Barbara while he taught at UC Santa Barbara after spending 41 years in San Francisco from 1927 to 1968. Much of Rexroth’s poetry has a Zen sensibility like the poem, “On Flower Wreath Hill,” included in Cross-Strokes. An excerpt epitomizes his ethos: “In the darkness every moment/Grows longer and longer, and/I feel as timeless as the/Two Thousand year old cypress.” The poet and professor Doren Robbins has a poem called, “Hummingbird.” “Bursting from his branch,” Robbins writes, in a spirit akin to Rexroth. “[H]e dipped all the way in,/the iridescent throat wet with honeysuckle juice./his wings so wild with motion/the untouched red blossoms/float backwards while he’s there.”
Seasonal change, economics, and the varied geography of California form a distinct pattern here. Joe Safdie’s sestina “September Song,” celebrates autumn in Bolinas. The two-part poem “The Poorhouse: Two Sonnets,” asks, “is it the third great depression / or the great recession?” He wonders about “the 1.7 million unemployed / whose benefits have been cut off.” Ellen Sander follows Safdie and she like Phoebe MacAdams was in Bolinas in the 1970s before coming to Los Angeles. In her poem, “Daybreakage,” she writes, “sea smoke upriver, streetlamp / dims, the very last star drowns / in something brighter.”
Aram Saroyan shares similarities with Lewis MacAdams in that he started as an early member of the New York School in the 1960s, lived in Bolinas during the 70s and made his way to L.A. in later years, teaching at USC. Saroyan’s poem, “The Moment,” contemplates the void and asks the question: “For in the end might not the beautiful be defined as whatever empties the mind, causing the seeing to become pure, mirror-like?”
Poetry of Place
Poetry of place is another key theme in this collection and two poets who explicitly address this are Standard Schaeffer and Michael Shepler. All five of Schaeffer’s pieces in the anthology cover California mountains, rivers and the desert. The first, “Water & Power,” is more of an overview on California ecology concluding that, “they came down ‘to see the elephant’ / on this burdened archipelago of bad options and enthusiasms.” Schaeffer’s other poems address the mountains near Death Valley, the city of Ojai, the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles River. Michael Shepler, mentored by Henri Coulette at Cal State LA, is represented by poems addressing an apartment building on Santa Monica Boulevard and the Angels Flight Funicular Railway in Downtown Los Angeles. Though he is now up in the Bay Area, Shepler grew up in L.A. and was very active in Los Angeles poetry for many years.
Born in L.A. Jack Spicer’s short life produced groundbreaking works like his 1957 book, After Lorca and his 1965 collection, Language. There have been at least three posthumous collections of his and Spicer’s work has been rediscovered in a number of critical essays over the last decade. My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, published in 2008, was one of the Village Voice’s Best Books of 2008. His poem, “Apollo Sends Seven Nursery Rhymes to James Alexander,” juxtaposes Greek Mythology, chess, baseball and the La Brea Tar Pits amidst its seven segments. Spicer laments, “I died again and was reborn last night/That is the way we mirror people/Forgive me, I am a child of the mirror and not a child of the door.” Spicer merges the metaphysical with the commonplace in these regionally saturated pieces.
John Thomas was one of the most influential poets in the Venice West scene. Thomas also spent some time in the Bay Area during the early 1960s. Thomas passed in 2002 at 72 years old and by the time he passed, he was the patriarch and grand old man of the Venice Beat poets. His poem in the anthology, “Variations on the Decay of Satire,” reminds us that, “in these quiet times the samurai becomes the tea man,/builds temple gardens, floats plum blossoms/in a shallow bowl before the image.”
Otis College Professor, Paul Vangelisti career dates back to the early 1970s, when he co-edited the legendary literary magazine Invisible City. Though he did his undergraduate work at the University of San Francisco, he’s been in L.A. since 1968 when he came to USC to get his Masters. For four decades Vangelisti’s poetry has combined avant-garde sensibilities, surrealism, and humor. “Days Shadows Pass” exemplifies his mode: “Gardeners sport evening dress or overalls / for those who want to reassess anything / like postmodernism or modernism / so why keep practicing desolation?”
The Santa Monica-born Scott Wannberg grew up in Venice. Quasi-mythical, he went to college at San Francisco State University where he earned an M.A. in 1977 before moving back down to Los Angeles. For many years he was a book clerk and buyer at Dutton’s Books in Brentwood before they closed in 2008. As the years went on, Wannberg toured the United States and Canada with S.A. Griffin and their collective of poets, The Carma Bums from 1989 to 2009. Wannberg is the author of five books and he died before his time at 58 in 2011. His poetry bridges free jazz, the spirit of the Beats and the ethos of Punk Rock.
S.A. Griffin told me that the first time he heard Wannberg riff live accompanied by a musician in the early 1980s, he thought he found, “the source.” In 2015, Percival Press published a 306-page, posthumous collection, The Official Language of Yes. I met Wannberg on several occasions and recall his generous spirit. Standing over six feet three inches and close to 300 pounds, his poetry and charisma were as large as his physical appearance. Wannberg’s poem in the anthology is a segmented poem with 21 sections and it playfully ruminates on Dan White, the man who killed San Francisco Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.
Wannberg simultaneously mocks Los Angeles Police Chief Darryl Gates as well as Dan White’s defense that twinkies made him kill the two men: “We don’t know why Dan White came to L.A./Darryl Gates said and kicked his foot against the moon/We don’t know why he came here/We most certainly don’t need him here/We have enough trouble with Twinkies as it is.” Nonetheless Wannberg notes, “I believe in the world./Come and sing./Against this cold night/light. Against this/street of fear. Come/and I will play my music/until they throw us out.” This poem captures Wannberg’s spirit and also that iconic time period and this episode of California history with the flair that only a skilled poet could.
Maw Shein Win studied at Cal State Long Beach in the 1980s and she is now the first Poet Laureate in El Cerrito, a city adjacent to Berkeley. Among her six poems in Cross-Strokes, “Cast Away” has her reader “on an island, the sand / and the land / where the pair / made a pact / to swim in separate / tides, trunks, / truncation, a vacation / now here, not here.” Win like the rest of the poets in the collection takes her readers on a journey through the human condition. Her meditation epitomizes the West Coast wanderlust all of these poets share in common.
A Reunion Party
In co-editor Bill Mohr’s concluding chapter, “A Reckoning of the Circumambulation of West Coast Poetry (1945-2015), Mohr pontificates on the unpredictable nature of an individual poet’s life. Mohr reaffirms the purpose of the anthology when he states, “The goal was simply to provide readers of contemporary poetry a glimpse at the circulation of poets on the fertile crescent of the West Coast and to disabuse the notion of static, immiscible communities in L.A. and San Francisco.” Mohr than clarifies further by writing, “While it remains the case that the majority of poets living in California identify either Los Angeles or San Francisco as an omphalos for their poetics, anyone truly familiar with both cities will greet this volume’s table of contents as a long forestalled reunion party.”
This anthology performs a formidable and provisional service. Mohr addresses other factors to consider in future anthologies like San Diego poets and he also notes that a second edition of Cross-Strokes could include Juan Felipe Herrera, Suzanne Lummis, F.A. Nettelbeck and Susan Suntree. The book maps poets from Long Beach, Los Angeles, Venice, Santa Barbara, to Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley and Bolinas and the eclectic identities of these various bards range from street poets to academics, beat poets, surrealists and avant-garde leftists. Concanetating in their differences, these poems so aptly epitomize the unity in difference of the West Coast Spirit.