Wondering what UCLA alumni poets are up to? Check out Circle Poetry Journal, a published-by-referral-only journal, coming out Fall 2013. First Cycle includes all UCLA poets who met during workshops or other art projects. Each poet will refer a friend, who will expand the circle. The hope is to reach all interesting young poets working now from Los Angeles. Don’t miss it:Image

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‘The Raven’ Review Rundown (Alliterative Special)

In Society of Poetry’s two time tradition of going to see movies that reflect poets (hey, these don’t happen often), we attended The Raven premier this week to give you the scoop .


ImageEdgar Allan Poe, John Cusack: two names that separately elicit enough teenage palpitations, merged together on the screen to fashion a new Edgar with a hint of classic Cusack pop angst. The writer of the macabre behaves differently than the brooding, soused, pale lover that we imagine wrote “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Cusack gives the role a modern spin, as a misunderstood and crabby poet trying to get his work noticed at a time dominated by the hackneyed likes of Longfellow (know the feeling?).

The older Poe, post-Raven fame, does not come off as cheesy although the premise of Poe investigating copy-cat murders borders on campy. The movie feels surprisingly smart at times, especially to any of those Poe fans who want to catch short story references before they spell them out. Props to those who can name all the poems quoted in the film.

So the movie is about Poe saving his wife-to-be, Emily, who is targeted by a serial killer emulating the outcomes of Poe’s horrors. The plot doesn’t go much farther than that and the “who-done-it” aspect of it is easy to solve. After the first 15 minutes, you can see the plot unravel before you and any person well-read in Poe could have foreseen the plights to come, leaving out the surprise factor.

The movie’s genre is obscure. I expected a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sort of a vibe but ended up with a straight up romance/mystery.  It left me stumped as to the film’s ideal audience. I imagine you need to already be in love with Poe in order to appreciate this movie. Although I can see hip 8th grade teachers showing this to jaded English classes to rouse interest in poetry through a little gore.

In summary, it’s a visual collage of Poe’s greatest works. Any lover of his stories would enjoy seeing it; it was fun, just not the definitive Poe movie we have all been lusting for.

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What to do if you are a winsome writer at UCLA (and ain’t got no writing friends)

Hey, I’ve been there.

I have received several emails from writers and poets asking me about Society of Poetry even after its extinction. Each email puts a thorn in my heart for what should still be going on in any university: a group of poets gathering together to maintain an active community of readings, discussions, and fun. This is why I am going to let you in on what you can do at UCLA to keep yourself poetic.

1. Join a Creative Writing Class in Poetry or Fiction
All majors at UCLA are welcome to apply to creative writing classes at UCLA. This is the BEST way to meet other talented poets at UCLA and there are classes available every quarter under the English dept listing.  They require a 3-5 page packet of your best work, but any person with the promise of spunk, creativity, and talent will be considered for their betterment. Weirdos need apply. There are also professors in the dept interested in experimental, conceptual, surreal, misch. weird work.

2. Join or submit to Westwind
Westwind is the premier journal for literature and the arts at UCLA, run entirely by students. Each year they receive applications for editors and senior editors and any dept can apply. I guarantee you will meet the people most interested in your genre of work in this small community. Also, if you submit to Westwind and your work gets published, you will instantly be linked to parties and readings that will help you meet new poets. I was Senior Editor of Poetry for 2010-2011 year. I know what I speak of.

3. Look Up Creative Writing Groups Through Student Affairs
UCLA lists all of its active student groups in the following site: The English Dept’s student councilor, Janel  Munguia, sends emails about student groups periodically. Being part of the student mailing list is a great way to also learn what new creative writing opportunities are afoot.

4. Start a Creative Writing Student Group
All the information you need to register a group come fall or winter is right here. You need to person’s signatures to register with you and you are done. Having a group means you will be able to reserve classrooms, audiovisual equipment, public or private areas in order to hold events. You will even get permission to post fliers and boards around campus, along with having your own table down Bruin Walk. These are things that are not always allowed unless you are working through a student group. It also means you might receive funding from the school if you apply for it on time (something I never did, so I always had to pay from my pocket–not a pleasant experience).

Once you have exhausted these ideas, if there are still no opportunities to meet other poets and share in your poetic experiences, please do visit your local poetry readings, such as the Poetry Series at the Hammer museum (run by poetry professor Stephen Yenser), or the open mics at BrewCo.

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A Letter. Farewell.

Prologue: an apology
I decided to write a farewell letter to all those who I shared some poetry with at our university. I am happy to have met each of you. You were certainly instrumental in developing my public-poet-speaking-persona. School is good for trial and error and I would hope this letter inspires newer students to take advantage of the college environment of micro-reality in order to hone their voice and practice their art with others. I promise any sentimentality is merely an aftershock and quite harmless.

Dear poets and friends,

I would like to officially declare that the Society of Poetry has reached the end of its course. I am graduating this year and have no heir left to take the reigns, so Society of Poetry will become a foggy memory in the history of UCLA, treasured by only a few until it reaches mythic status (get started on the myth making, guys!).

I am very proud with all of our accomplishments and even my failures. Our first year together was dedicated to the formation of a very tight knit group of strangers who later became instrumental in the development of each individual’s public poetic voice. Among the more consistent members, Jax Meyers (Vice President), Finley Still, Cody Pridmore, Joel Pickell,  and Francesca Holland, we shared many wonderful laughs and profound conversations (and savage arguments) and got to experience a feeling of community within poetry that I now understand is precious and rare. Some of the other “rogue” members, Kyle Barett, Kiyoshi Simon, Michelle LaBelle, and Chris Fleishman often brought in interesting works of poetry and participated in some conversations on the edge of insult, with a foot dipped in our near religious revelations.

I miss Jax dearly, whom shared many a school nights of drinking after our poetry group and with whom I made secrets and memories that I hope will be relived when we cross paths again. Her poetry reminded me of the raw power of honest sensuality that we can be so afraid of expressing within the sterile walls of our university campus. But there is meat under those walls. Thanks Jax for helping me carve that out.

I am very happy to have met each person in this group. Among the past members, Kyle Barett is now pursuing a masters in creative writing from the New School in New York and Michelle LaBelle put out her own DVD of poetic works along with a self-published book. Not that we had anything to do with it, but certainly it was a pleasure to have seen part of the poetic development in the life of both of these poets and others.

The second year of Society of Poetry was mostly spent in the creation of opportunities for various talented poets to share their voice. With the graduation of core members, the meetings dwindled a bit so I became the major and sole member and decided that events were the best rout for establishing tight collectives of poets on campus.

Among the readings, we got poets and non-poets together in a collective voice to read the entire poems in “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. Finley said that the collected feeling was of ‘electricity in the mind.’ I was surprised at the outcome of people and the interest in reading a work from another time, which proves that the written word can transcend through different periods and finds its home in the mouths of generations of ‘angel headed hipsters’ and new dreamers.

Thanks to the suggestion of artist and overall unique woman, Claire Kohne, we collected a group of poets, including Nathan McClain (who has basically won every major poetry award provided at UCLA), the stunning Claire Hellar and pleasantly confused Seth Newmeyer (and myself ) to read works in  Kohne’s creation of A Garden Party at her studio venue (and installation project). People delighted in the quality of the work along with the beautiful environment envisioned by the artist (suspended apples and leaves nailed to the wall, outside inside in). I am eternally grateful to her for providing such a gorgeous place for the poetic word to flower.

I would like new student poets to find their place in the poetry scene at UCLA and in Los Angeles too (and if its not there, to create it). Our last reading was suggested by professor Brian Kim Stefans, who genuinely believes in the active promotion of undergraduate poetry on campus. I collected a group of new poets (among the previously mentioned minus Nathan) like the impossibly mysterious Jakob Eysz, shy yet surreal Stefan Karlsson, artist Claire Kohne, and Sarah Baker (who was born too late or too soon) to create videos alongside their poems.

Our L.A. L.A. Land, Poets poetry reading, which involved their videos playing as a backdrop to their reading, was an interesting experiment in mixed media and it proved the versatile talents that these poets have in the creation of various powerful mediums of expression. Although the videos were perhaps a distraction and the readings did not seem to be as harmonious as I expected (I could barely hear myself reading over the weirdness of my video), it was a risky chance to take and I am truly proud of the talent that was emanating from that room. Sometimes it takes certain sorts of errors to make some beautiful noise and open up future ideas.

For this quarter, I am unsure of where to take the Society of Poetry. I dream of at least one final reading in which we incorporate our talents in one mass communion of poetic works without a single voice. Claire Hellar suggested that we create a collaborative work. I am eager to see what emerges.

I am working on a publication that will emerge long after I graduate, but will hopefully still include some of UCLA’s voices. Isn’t that the objective? To take what we have learned while in ‘school’ and use our experiences and connections (I mean spiritual not economic) in our lives beyond the threshold….into the other-life before the after….and to many lives in between.

Hopefully someone else will take the reigns and try to create another community at the university…a major place of development and birth of future poets . Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. Remember that failure and embarrassment are part of art. Keep an eye out for art and keep an eye out for one another. It was fun. See you later.

Laura V Rivera

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S.O.P putting the words where the mouth is

Society of Poetry is proud to declare that we shall be publishing our first compilation of art/text under the United Commons of the Arctic Circle, to be distributed by the beginning to Spring Quarter. We will keep you updated on submission guidelines, progress, and opportunities to partake in this momentous yet foreseeably underrated occasion.

If you are interested in joining the bandwagon (reading, writing, editing, talking, breathing), email: for info and the likes.

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Winter Wonderland

Welcome to wondrous Winter! We will write willfully without waste.

More to come shortly…

(Hoping someone will get the pun in the image. Hint: one could do worst than be a swinger of birches)


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A Garden Party with Potted Poets ! (…)



Wednesday, December 1 · 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Location Broad Arts Center, UCLA 5th fl. Balcony

Facebook Group: Join here

Be our guest for a Poetry Reading, Garden Party, and surprise Mayhem at Claire Kohne’s Venue.

Guest optional is wear your Sunday’s Best.
Bring your lovely self and make a toast at the table. Poetry, Music, Rambles, and Silence welcome.

Guests Readers include:

Nathan McClain
Claire Hellar
Laura V. Rivera
Johnny Nelson
Seth Newmeyer


The reading was a beaut! Claire Kohne’s garden party design and her infamous inedibles are featured here:

Each poet read their sumptuous words at the head of the dinner table. Others warbled enchanting tunes and told dirty jokes to inaugurate Claire Kohne’s Venue of the fantastic.

Soon her venue will be transformed into a miraculous coffee shop, in which coffee shall be sold way bellow the competing prices, as a decent cup of coffee should be.

More informations will come soon.

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