Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Elena Karina Byrne and Gabriel Meyer - Featured Poets at Bolton Hall on January 27, 2019

The first Village Poets reading of 2019 will co-feature two distinguished poets with shared artistic interests, as they both are associated with the Ruskin Art Club.  Gabriel Meyer, the Club's President and Elena Karina Byrne, the Club's Board member, will co-feature on Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. at Bolton Hall Museum, 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042. Besides the featured poets, the reading will include two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations are collected for the cost of the venue, the second historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles, that celebrated its centennial in 2013.  The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society.


Former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America and  Executive Director for the AVK Arts Foundation, Elena Karina Byrne is a visual artist,  freelance editor, professor, book reviewer, the Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club, and annual Poetry Consultant and Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She also works on poetry programs with the Craft & Folk Art Museum and sits on the advisory board for What Books Press. She was recently one of the final judges for the Kate and Kingsley Tufts Poetry Awards in Poetry until 2018, and a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books

Elena received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from Beyond Baroque’s Literary Arts Center. She was part of the West Hollywood Book Fair’s Planning Committee and worked with Red Car studios editing several documentary film projects including, The Big Read, Muse of Fire and Why Shakespeare? Since 1991 Elena has organized or funded programs for the Museum of Contemporary Art, the University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library, the Getty Research Institute at the J. Paul Getty Center, UCLA's CAP/Center for the Art of Performance,Columbia University's School of the Arts International Translation Project, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, The Craft and Folk Art Museum’s Poetry and Art Collaboration Series, The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Metro Art live Poetry in Motion annual readings, and the renowned Chateau Marmont “Act of the Poet” series. She was the 2005 Poetry Co-Editor for The Los Angeles Review and one of three judges for the 2006 PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry. 

Her book reviews and essays have appeared in Slope, Poetry International, The Journal and Omniverse.  Elena's publications, among others, include, 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses, Best American Poetry 2005, Poetry, The Yale Review, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day site, Black Renaissance Noire, BOMB, Dublin Poetry Review, Levurelitteraire, Painted Bride Quarterly , Barrow Street, Volt, Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, Verse, The Journal, Diode,  Plume, Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes, Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics From California, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Poetry Daily Anthology, and Spunk and Bite: A Writer's Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language and Style. Books include: The Flammable Bird (Zoo Press 2002), MASQUE, (Tupelo Press 2008) and Squander (Omnidawn 2016); she has just completed a book of essays, VOYEUR HOUR: Meditations on Poetry, Art & Desire.

the comedian said, which is why his sunflowers’ yellows 
were so very yellow in their deliberately askew heads, and
from there now I know too, bees can dream, which must be
a kind of drunken wavering from the sun, dizzy parallax of
dance to dance flower-color crowned in the mouth’s epiphany
carried home. Hive’s hexagon. Sunflower’s Fibonacci. Love is
this precise, yet so lie-lawless once let loose inside the body, all
Nile and noontime, black seed and spiral, to a hint of foreground-
yellow paint between the teeth. I desire something new every day, 
like his later alterations, wet from another’s hands placed so very
carefully over me with the unleashed look of light. That is where 
we know nothing but sunflowers, we become a different version.
(C) Elena Karina Byrne

Gabriel Meyer is an award-winning novelist, poet, and journalist. He is the recent recipient of an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of California (Berkeley) in recognition of his work as a journalist and is a fellow of the DSPT. A resident of Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter in the 1980s, he won Catholic Press Association awards for his coverage of the first Palestinian intifada in 1989. He also traveled widely in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt and Turkey, covering the plight of the ancient Christian communities in the region.

Assigned to write on Yugoslavia for the National Catholic Register in 1990, he lived in Bosnia-Herzegovina and chronicled the region’s descent into civil war. Meyer returned frequently to the Balkans during the Bosnian war, writing principally on the plight of war orphans and the politics of aid. His reporter’s diary series on the last day of the war in Sarajevo (Oct. 1995) was nominated for several journalism awards.

Meyer published two novels in 1994: “In the Shade of the Terebinth” (Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame) and “The Gospel of Joseph” (Herder and Herder, New York).
In 1997, he met and interviewed legendary human rights champion Macram Max Gassis of Sudan and traveled with him to the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan the following year. Subsequent trips to Sudan in 1999, 2000, and 2001 provided the basis for a feature-length documentary “The Hidden Gift” on the Nuba and other “forgotten” peoples of Sudan’s civil war, which Meyer wrote. The film premiered at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in 2001.

Meyer returned to Sudan in 2004 with fine arts photographer James Nicholls. The two collaborated on a book of essays and photographs entitled “War and Faith in Sudan” published by William B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI). The book, released in 2005, won the National Association of Librarians’ ForeWord Magazine “Book of the Year” Award for essays in 2006.

Meyer has lectured widely in the United States and Europe, including major addresses at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC on the nature of genocide, Notre Dame University Law School, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles under the auspices of Town Hall Los Angeles and the LA Public Library’s ALOUD Lecture Series. He delivered the prestigious 2007 Medart Lecture on Catholic social thought at Maryville University in St. Louis. In 2017 he lectured at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at UC Berkeley on Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si’,” on the nexus of ecology and spirituality. He has been a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including NPR-affiliate KCRW’s “Politics of Culture,” and C-Span 2’s BookTV.

In 2006, Meyer received a grant from the Dan Murphy Foundation to write a history of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher. At the end of 2006, Meyer returned to Jerusalem to do research on the church. He secured permission from church authorities to visit the “hidden” areas of the site – e.g., the underground Roman/Byzantine “Cisterns of St. Helena, the so-called Chapel of St. Vartan area beneath the ancient basilica, and excavation sites behind Calvary and beneath the Greek Katholikon, which are off-limits even to most scholars, giving him a uniquely well-informed and incisive perspective on the complex archaeological and historical questions associated with the church. He has since written a historical overview of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher entitled “The Testimony of Stones: A Biography of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.” In 2018, Meyer returned to Jerusalem in order to document recent (2017) discoveries about the reputed tomb of Jesus there.

Meyer’s poetry was featured in Los Angeles Literary Review #2 (Red Hen Press, Pasadena, CA) in 2006. His work also appeared in a 2017 edition of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review. Tebot Bach Press (Los Angeles) published his major poetry cycle “A Map of Shadows” in 2012. He is currently editing a collection of his Bosnian war poetry entitled “Dreaming of Wheat.”

Meyer has also written extensively on the thought of British art and social critic John Ruskin and, since 1998, has been president, and now executive director of the Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles’s oldest cultural and arts association (1888).  In the 1960s, Meyer studied composition and piano at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
Mr. Meyer lives in Los Angeles. 



The smell of light.
He was out of the sheets of his dream
like a hunter.

Wet black sky, wet earth:
from the balcony
all he could see
were the traces of her concealment.
*  *  *

The screech of far-off baboons
at river edge,
the last remnant of his dream,
lingered behind the eyes.


(Of course.
Only yesterday the collector Chocquet
had shown him the Louvre pyramidion
with baboons:

Egyptian. Late period.
On limestone: a simian dance to raise the dawn.)

In his dream, the horizon framed by lions.

*  *  *

Notes for a study in composition:

The balcony
198 rue de Rivoli,
the painter Claude Monet
overlooking the royal garden,
summer 1876


The bruise-gray borderland
where luminaries hinge,
where Nature fans out on a primed canvas
a subject fit for blind geographers,

maestros of the “innocent eye”

for whom all sight is touch.

*  *  *
“One watches and waits,”
the painter told Chocquet.
"One sees nothing at first,
but everything is there.”

Hymn to Helios

The quality of light at midday
when Helios the brazen racer
has surmounted his seven trials
of shadows,
A musculature of bright fugues,
eyes ablaze with

With the knowledge
that the enmity of
fire and water is past.
*  *  *

Color study:
A swath of turf
In the sun

(lawn aquamarines):

an Egyptian sky

has made a glaze

of all its densities.

*  *  *

“You talk
as though color were a surface,”
Monet had told Zola,
who had come to watch him
it is a sea.”

*  *  *

“Something cool, monsieur,”
Chocquet’s wife
announced to the silence,

placing a beaker of water and wine glasses
at his elbow.

The flick of brushwork.

Claude Monet, painting the royal garden,
summer 1876.
*  *  *

A partial list of the master’s brushstrokes:

swarms of little rages
clouds’ heads
shook saplings
splayed fibers
crabbed brushwood

“Trial and error,”

the painter told Chocquet,

who had ventured a question
about technique.

“Until one surprises something
one did not know
how to see.”

*  *  *

That first morning the painter had permitted his hostess brief installments
between decanters

of her account of a miraj to Heliopolis,
a recent moonlit ride
on Egyptian horseback
through the capital of the falcon-headed Ra,
the god who separates earth from heaven,
day from night,
world from chaos.

“Not that there’s anything much to see there,”
she recalled.
“An obelisk,
a spring . . . “
*  *  *
Notes for a study in composition:

The look of water glasses
Against a bright window:
Noon has broken the ravens into slivers.




Late twilight:
Angels, on their rounds,
draw the darkness
in taut sheets
over a city of empty parlors.


into corners:

The hieroglyph,
illuminated on an inner wall;

the half-sentence in a note,
that changes (would have changed) everything;

the hand
resting on a naked shoulder,
unglimpsed through blinds.

*  *  *

Color study,
egg tempera on paper
sea blue
dark blue
In his dream:
At river edge,
the meteor stone
by baboons.

The horizon denuded of birds.

*  *  *

Notes for a study in composition:

The balcony,
198 rue de Rivoli,
the painter Claude Monet
overlooking the royal garden,
summer 1876.


The necropolis of five-petalled fires
The occlusion of eyes.
through a skin of closing waters.
Without thinking,
one holds the breath.

There was nothing more
to paint
*  *  *

Chocquet was wondering over claret and cigars
whether Night could ever be said to be
the provenance of art.

“Given the surrender of vision,
I mean.”

(Chocquet, the bureaucrat,
who adored Delacroix,
but could afford Renoir.)

“In that case,” said Monet,
“painters will have to discover
how to breathe on the bottom of the sea.”
Rothko’s tone bars above a silence:
The blue,
hardly human,
that ripens into ravens.

*  *  *

“If monsieur would be so kind .  .  . “
Madame Chocquet had managed to slip a blindfold
over the painter’s eyes,
from behind.
A black silk scarf,
to the shy laughter of guests.

The parlor game, “Shadow Bluff,”
a specialty of his hosts.
The blindfolded victim
spun to face a wall of phantoms,
which must be named.

The painter’s edgy acquiescence.

“Don’t begrudge us a little test of your theories,
maitre .  .  . “
*  *  *
on the balcony,

the gust of a lunar wind.

From within the folds of the scarf,
something close:
A memory of rue
gathered in the market.

And beyond it,
where the perfect body of the park
had succumbed
at last
to the river,
something darker,
deeper still

like a breath),

the scent
of something hidden
from the night.

Monet Poems  (c) Gabriel Meyer

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