Noir in LA

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with shadows. As a kid I imagined every shadow in my room was something terrifying — the long, sharp-nailed fingers of a witch reaching out for me — a wolf’s wet snout…you get the idea.

I also have a thing for urban, abandoned places and spent a fair amount of time as a teen climbing the fire escape of a run-down building in Long Beach to sit on the roof and write. I know very little about noir — but I’m learning — and I’m fascinated with what I’ve learned so far.

Last night I had the privilege of seeing poet Suzanne Lummis and scholar Alan K. Rode give a talk centered around noir at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center.

Lummis started the evening by reading some wonderful noir poetry and then the audience was treated to the premier of the fifth episode of They Write by Night, “Noir Immersion.”

I am especially enjoying the way this series blends together film and poetry and gives insight into the concepts surrounding the noir genre. Lummis is captivating — and she has chosen some wonderfully dark poems to feature. I’ve been watching them with my morning coffee, and you can find them all (including the newest) here:

“They Write by Night”

After we watched the latest episode, Rode read from his biography of film director Michael Curtiz:

Rode’s Biography on Michael Curtiz

Anyone that knows me well knows that movies have never been a priority for me, but I am going to give myself a film education… starting with some of the noir films. Double Indemnity is first on my list…

Last night, I walked away from Beyond Baroque knowing a little more about noir… I walked down the shadowy sidewalk in the late-night heat feeling a little in-danger and a little dangerous. Lummis’s poem “Femme Fatale” ends with the following lines:

That woman
with you, for instance,
checking herself in the mirror
to see where she stands—
she’s innocent so far, but someone
will disappoint her.
Even now you’re beginning to.
Even now you’re in danger.






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