LUMMIS DAY FESTIVAL IS THIS COMING SUNDAY!!!
“Lummis Day celebrates the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles through educational and cultural events and an annual festival that draws the community together for a shared experience while providing a platform for cooperation among people of all ages and backgrounds.”
Suzanne Lummis is a poet and dedicated supporter of all things in this city related to it’s literary and art expressions. Her passions for our city and it’s rich poetry are the catalyst that drives her event creations and coordinating. She is the unspoken generous gate keeper in charge of many distributed enlightenments and enrichments of the Los Angeles art and literary communities of which are many as well as culturally diverse. She is an educator and an advocator of festivities whenever, which is often, she finds a reason to celebrate everything in regards to art, literature and especially poetry.
In person, Suzanne is the delightful hostess at the theater of reality, poetry’s knowledgeable historian, who possesses an off the cuff humor that you just can’t get enough of, as seen in the video here in this article. And, her poetry is just as wonderful to encounter as Suzanne herself.
As director of The Los Angeles Poetry Festival, which in 2011 produced the 25-event citywide series, “Night and the City: L.A. Noir in Poetry, Fiction and Film”. she is still somehow able to host another great day of celebration with the annual festival, Lummis Day.
On Sunday, June 2nd The Festival will be Lummis Day Number 8, having launched it’s first event in 2006.
For the community, Lummis Day is a party with a purpose, a “kumbaya” for the various ethnicities and cultures that share the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods. In 2008 attendance reached 9,000 people – making it into one of the area’s biggest annual events. -wikipedia
Los Angeles Poetry Examiner: You are the granddaughter of Charles Fletcher Lummis, do you remember him? Were you born during his lifetime?
Suzanne Lummis: “Do I remember Charles Fletcher Lummis? No, happily I’m not quite that old. He died in ’28—I missed him by a long shot. My family’s rather spread out, in terms of the generations. But I got a sense of my grandfather through my father, Keith—not just from memories or stories he passed along but, even more importantly, from my father’s personality.
He was an extremely virile, dynamic and charismatic man. And because he was born in 1904, in some respects as much a 19th century man as he was 20th century—not 19th century Victorian era, latter-day American West, those times and that idea about maleness, the sense of adventure.
I feel that occasionally people understand my grandfather in terms of his beliefs and achievements but they don’t have a sense of his character and personality, how persuasive and magnetic he could be. At least he was in his youth—late in life I think he turned into a crabby old codger, the grumpy old man syndrome.
Now you ask about “The Prose of It (poem on Geronimo)” by CFL—I don’t know it. I have a first edition of Bronco Pegasus but I don’t see it in there. I don’t read his poetry and am not too familiar with it, other than those in the exquisite birch bark poems, the miniature books he made out of exquisitely thin sheathes of birch bark and, using his printmaking skills, typeset his poems on them. He sold them for twenty-five cents apiece, and in that way put himself through college (maybe the first and last time that anyone’s funded their Harvard education with profits from poetry). That’s wonderfully inventive and I admire the artistry of it, but I’m not a fan of his poems. Though he was an innovator in most respects, as a poet he followed the conventions of the day and those poems haven’t aged well. They’re dated. Poetry wasn’t his gift, but it was his enthusiasm.”
Los Angeles Poetry Examiner: Coming from a long line of writers, poets, journalists and etc., is there a favorite family poem?
Suzanne Lummis: “My favorite family poem? A poem about my family? I’ve only this past weekend finally written a poem that includes, quite substantially, both my father and mother. It’s a tribute—and it’s the poem that’s been haunting me for, oh, four years at least. And I’ve been putting off writing it for that long. I’m a procrastinator. But also I felt the burden of responsibility, to get it right. Also, I knew he would cost me, emotionally.”
Los Angeles Poetry Examiner: What is Viva Poetry?
Suzanne Lummis: “Viva Poetry! The Lummis Day Library Series is the series of two or three events in Northeast Los Angeles libraries, usually Arroyo Seco and Eagle Rock, where we feature poets, either reading or holding writing workshops open to everyone, partially as a means to get the word out about the Northeast Los Angeles Festival, each year the first Sunday of every June, beginning at El Alisal, the house my grandfather built, then moving over to Heritage Square Museum and the music stages.
This year’s Viva Poetry! Program was sensational, one of the best, maybe the best (though it’s hard to compare a writing workshop to a reading). Instead of having poets read their own work, the usual thing—dozens, and hundreds—a thousand!– readings around town feature poets reading their own work, this time I had a variety of people in addition to poets reading some favorite poem, and playwright and videographer Justin Tanner filmed the proceedings. At the Eagle Rock Library we had a wonderful high school girl, Sadie Wilking—beautifully dressed as if she were going to receive a commendation from the mayor—reading a Maya Angelou poem, a new mother and former recruiter for the aerospace industry reading Sylvia Plath’s “Balloons”.
Carlos Palomino, former WBC welterweight champion who has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, read Robert Mezey’s terrific poem, “Beau Jack”. Eliot Sekular, founder of Lummis Day, read one of Pounds translations of Li Po.
Over at Arroyo Seco Library, Laurel Ann Bogen read Philip Levine’s much-loved “The Simple Truth,” Mariano Zaro read in Spanish and English, the actress Connie Forsland presented one of mine, “To the Man in the Parking Lot of Sunset and Western”—read it beautifully of course. And there were many, many more. I can’t name them all now, but Justin Tanner’s editing the video and at some point we’ll have a public screening and invite everyone.”
Los Angeles Poetry Examiner: What else is cooking in the Lummis poetry kitchen?
Suzanne Lummis: “At this point I’m leaning toward wanting to repeat this Northeast L.A. version of the “Favorite Poem Project” for next year’s Viva Poetry! readings. I think, especially with the turn-out at Eagle Rock, that we surpassed ourselves with this. Main thing, it draws in a variety of new people, beyond poets and the usual poetry-goers.”
With the generosity of inspiration, dedication and her all inclusive creations for festivals to celebrate the arts, literature and especially poetry, We must realize, in regard to everything and all that poetry is in this culturally diverse City of Los Angeles, that with Suzanne at the helm of the progressive celebrations of our art, our history as Angelenos and our poetry, we are in good hands.
Lummis Day on Sunday is an all inclusive family day of Los Angeles Illustrated, in the warmth and hospitality of the Lummis Home, thank you Suzanne Lummis, for the invation to come over to your house for an enriching and fabulous play date!
Suzanne Lummis Bio 2013
Suzanne Lummis is an executive board member of Beyond Baroque, literary director for The Arroyo Arts Collective’s “Poetry in the Windows” project, which in 2014 will once again put prize winning Los Angeles poems in the storefronts along Figueroa, the California correspondent for New Mexico’s Malpais Review, and director of The Los Angeles Poetry Festival, which in 2011 produced the 25-event citywide series, “Night and the City: L.A. Noir in Poetry, Fiction and Film”. Her collection In Danger was published by Heyday Books, her next is forthcoming from Red Hen. Individual poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, The New Ohio Review, World Literature Today, Hotel Amerika, and numerous other magazines, and in the Knopf “Everyman’s Poetry Library” anthologies, Poems of the American West and Poems of Murder and Mayhem. She teaches several poetry workshops for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, including this spring’s class, starting in July, “The Persona Poem: Exploring Other Voices”.