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Arts Alive Blog


Arts Alive Poetry Contest Entries: The Sounds of L.A.

Posted By: Kelsey McConnell · 4/29/2013 3:26:00 PM


Earlier this month, Arts Alive announced its first ever Poetry Contest. We asked you to help us celebrate National Poetry Month by sending us poems about music and Southern California. We've received nearly an inch of entries (about 70 poems) and they're still coming in (the deadline to submit a poem to [email protected] is tomorrow at 5PM). This contest has confirmed two things: KUSC listeners are a creative and thoughtful bunch and Southern California is a great place to live, especially for music lovers.

Here are three poems that capture the experience of listening to Los Angeles.


by Sally Currie of Pasadena

Was that the music of the spheres
Descending on my waiting ears?

It throbs with vibrancy, loud and shrill.
Sirens, trash trucks, traffic will

Create the kind of city sound
It's sometimes hard to be around.

But urban living has its pluses.
You can leave your car and ride the buses.

In little enclaves, cultures thrive;
From around the world they're kept alive

With their music, festivals and food,
Exploring them is always good.

Hollywood is also fun
With sidewalk stars to walk upon.

Opera, dance, the L. A. Phil,
Al Fresco concerts give a thrill.

Street musicians add to the mix.
A clarinet croons some groovy licks.

While shining waves that I adore
Beat crashing cadence on the shore.

KUSC keeps the blues away
I listen to it every day.

Tho' a country girl, I am committed
To loving L. A, until I'm "obit-ed!"

touch me, rubinstein
by Leah Schweitzer of Valencia

there are these concerts     Mom takes me
these concerts     at the Philharmonic
on Fifth and Olive     because I play the piano
and she wants greatness for me

she manages somehow     to stash enough money     for tickets
in the coin purse     hidden all the way back
in the bottom drawer of the vanity

these concerts     the bumpy ride     the red trolley
screeching its way downtown
matinee tickets     the musty dark brown balcony
seats in the last row

these concerts     don't get me wrong
I love them     I really do
but sometimes     as I listen     and watch
my mind wanders     and I wonder
what's going on     on Rogers Street     and Norman Place
while I have to be in exile     from Myra and Steve
and Stanley     whom Mom calls Stalney
and Stella

this one time--a chance to hear Rubinstein!
we get all dressed up     and even from up there
heaven-high     my eyes follow     how his arms
fly over his head     and come crashing down
on perfect Chopin chords     all this power
and perfection     thundering through us

you'll get his autograph!     Mom says
a wild look in her eyes     as she marches me
to the stage door     where a swarm of us     get turned away

we begin our walk     to the streetcar
doing it slow     when Mom looks up
and there he is     most of him hidden
in this thick black coat
moving toward us     at a fast clip
his hands in his pockets
probably his wife on one side
probably his kid on the other

go ahead ask     comes the command
and I'm pushed forward     to block his way
the woman with him     kicking up this fuss:
no, please, he can't     his hands, you know

at which point I hear Mom's immigrant voice
ask: well then     could he maybe just touch her?

I want to die     I turn away     I cannot face him
or his smile     or his shrug     or his kind eyes
as he looks for my hidden face
and says     softly     I'm sorry
I'm sorry     but good luck
good luck to you my dear


Music in the Air
by Joan Shulman

It soothes me, it calms me,
It caresses and charms me.
It heals things that ache me.
It cradles and awakes me.

It’s classic and timeless
And frequently rhymeless.
The music of Bach, Vivaldi, and Copeland,
Beethoven, Chopin, Debussey, and Gershwin.

The Hollywood Bowl, the Chandler Pavillion,
Walt Disney Concert Hall is one in a million!
Mark Taper Forum, The Ahmenson, too,
Greek Theater – Music with view

Resounding here in the home of the Stars,
Dudamel, The Phil, Classical Guitars.
Master Chorale, The Opera, Ballet,
Resplendent harmony, the sounds of L. A.


We'll be posting more poetry contest entries here on the Arts Alive blog all week and Brian Lauritzen will pick one to read this Saturday on Arts Alive.

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