LA Litscape: celebrating with Douglas Kearney and Skylight Books

douglas_kearneyJust as Studs Turkel shuffles off this worldly stage, a new voice emerges from the wings...

And We Shall March blog shares the news that Los Angeles poet, Douglas Kearney, just received one of the coveted 2008 Whiting Writers Awards, a $50,000 prize bestowed upon writers of exceptional talent and promise early in their careers. This is a major award and puts Kearney in the company of past recipients like Denis Johnson, Jorie Graham, Kim Edwards, William T. Vollman, Sarah Ruhl, Mark Doty, Jeffrey Eugenides, David Foster Wallace, and Colson Whitehead. Kearney is on a roll this year: he's also one of the five poets in the country named a 2008 National Poetry Series winner for his upcoming book, The Black Automaton, coming out in 2009.

He's slated to perform on Monday, November 3rd at the Red Hen Press at the Geffen "Language Uncoiled" show with Saul Williams. Kearney will perform at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena on December 8, 2008, 7pm

Ackermainsionette Halloween vignette I visited Hillhurst and Russell in Los Feliz on Saturday morning, hoping to make a post-Halloween pilgrimage to sci fi/horror movie maven Forrest J Ackerman's "Ackermansionette," but found it closed to the general public. There was of activity inside, but it seemed a private event. The young man at the door said Forrest wasn't doing many open houses these days. His website is down. I hope that he's in good health. Let me know if there's any news.

ETA: an LAO reader sent me an email saying that the news isn't good. Mr. Ackerman is ailing. He is suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Friends are stopping by and calling to connect with him and it sound like he's surrounded with love. He is also getting his business affairs in order as evidenced by reports that his lawyer dropped in this weekend with papers for Mr. Ackerman to sign. That's so vital! John Landis also stopped in to pay his respects.

I hope he recovers. I'd hate to have to say "goodbye" without ever getting the chance to say "hello."

Skylight Books celebrates its 12th birthday this Sunday with a cake cutting ceremony at 3 PM.

The November issue of the bookstore's newsletter just came out (it should be online shortly). Manager Kerry Slattery wrote a tribute to acting educator, Milton Katselas, who died on October 24th. Kerry informed readers that Milton was was instrumental in the store's formation. He partnered with others to create the store, fearing for the cultural life of Los Feliz neighborhood after Chatterton's Bookshop closed its doors in the same space in 1994.

I never knew the story behind Skylight's origins but the mention of Chatterton's Bookshop brings back memories. I had been shopping at Chatterton's since its days in Pasadena at Colorado Blvd and Oakland Avenue and followed it when proprietors reduced operations to the Los Feliz store. As a teen in the early '80s, I had my Saturday lit ritual: rise early to peruse the stacks of the Pasadena Central library, stop at Chatterton's in Los Feliz on Vermont, visit the Onyx coffee house, get some sfogliatelle at Sarno's Bakery, and then make my way to AMOK and Circus Books in the Sunset Junction. I'd always pass the Philosophical Research Society on my way to Vermont Ave, but was too scared to stop in. Ah, youth. Now I haunt the PRS bookstore.

I left LA for law school in the Bay Area in 1988. When I returned to the area for visits in the '90s, Skylight had taken its Chatterton's store front but I never knew the backstory.

I can't make it to Skylight today but I will be attending their popular Literary Salon on November 15th at 4pm. Staffers plan to share treasures from their favorite graphic novel presses. Join us!

More by Adrienne Crew:
Recently on Native Intelligence
New at LA Observed