Charles Bivins
in a feature reading at Beyond Baroque
Venice, CA

Rene Aguiluz
Dasan Ahanu
Neil Aitken
Tchise Aje
Alaina R. Alexander
David Alpaugh
Melissa F. Alvarado
Rafael F.J. Alvarado
Gloria Enedina Alvarez
William Archila
RD Armstrong ("Raindog")
Steve Arntson
askew, a.k.a. Charles Claymore
Colette LaBouff Atkinson
Cameron Awkward-Rich
Robert A. Ayres
Emanuel Ayvas
Tray Bain
Caleb Barber
Trudy Barnes
Tony Barnstone
Willis Barnstone
Ellen Bass
Teo Beauchamp
Lory Bedikian
Eddy Bello-Sandoval
Molly Bendall
Brooke Benson
Mari Beltrán
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
Michelle Bitting
Charles Bivins
Ant Black
Dee Black
Nikki Blak
Richard Blanco
Zoe Blaq
Barbara Blatt
Tamara Blue
Black Bird
Lavina Blossom
Lee Boek
Laurel Ann Bogen
Krys Bragg
Deborah Edler Brown
Jericho Brown
Nickole Brown
Stephanie Brown
Tatyana Brown
Tavis Brunson
Joy Buckley
Juan Bueno
Billy Burgos
Don Kingfisher Campbell
Joe Camhi
Luis Campos
Hélène Cardona
Robert Carroll
Anne Carson
Ashley Catharine
Imani Cezanne
Victoria Chang
David Charbonneau
Tova Charles
Darlene Chavarria
Michael Child
Ching-In Chen
Helen Cho
Teresa Mei Chuc
Tobi Cogswell
Marcia Cohee
Wanda Coleman
Larry Colker
Tuesday Conner
Brendan Constantine
Jack Cooper
Ordell Cordova
Scott Creley
John Cross
Sarah Cruse
Rachelle Cruz
James Cushing
Queen D
Michael Datcher
Charlotte Davidson
Jalondra A. Davis
Joe DeCenzo
Oli Dee
Marsha de la O
Lea C. Deschenes
Erin DeStephano
Natalie Diaz
Deborah Digges
Rosemarie DiMatteo
Peggy DoBreer
DJ Doesha
Nita Donovan
Sharon Doubiago
Jawanza Dumisani
Camille Dungy
Jerrica Escoto
Alejandro Escudé
Lisa Evans
Jenny Factor
B.H. Fairchild
John Fitzgerald
Mary Fitzpatrick
Michael C. Ford
Sesshu Foster
Rebecca Foust
Rudy Francisco
Amélie Frank
Alex M. Frankel
Tre G
Lucia Galloway
Jerry Garcia
Ramón Garcia
Thea Gavin
John Gentry
Ghetto Priest
Andrea Gibson
Brutha Gimel
Dana Gioia
Cyn "da Poet" Gonzalez
Helen Graziano
Corrie Greathouse
Jeff Green
Timothy Green

Sonia Greenfield
Whitney Greenaway
Ron Gregus
Eric Gudas
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez
Tresha Faye Haefner
Paul B. Hagins
Mel Hampton
Dina Hardy
Bob Hare
John Harris
Peter J. Harris
Mark D. Hart
Susan Hayden
Jamey Hecht
Juan Felipe Herrera
Tony Hoagland
Judy Holiday
Kevin Holmes
Nan Hunt
Elizabeth Iannaci
Thea Iberall
Saria Idana

Armine Iknadossian
Victor D.  Infanté
Amber Marie Irving
Donny Jackson
Gabriela Jauregui
Javis the Bravest
Nazelah Jeffries
Javon Johnson
Tayllor Johnson
Ken Jones
Lois P. Jones
Marshall "Soulful" Jones
Rodney Jones
Georgia Jones-Davis
Gary Justice
Pete Justus
Jullianna Kadel
George Kalmar
Simply Kat
Douglas Kearney
Arnal Kennedy
Hari Bhajan Khalsa
Just Kibbe
Ms. Sho' King
Doug Knott
Ron Koertge
Deborah Kolodji
Yusef Komunyakaa
Judy Kronenfeld
Lady G
Sergio Lagos-Ossa
Eric Lawson
Richard Leach
Damnyo Lee "The Genius Chyld"
Gary Lee
Elliott Levin
Jeff Liebling
Joe Limer
Lissaint, Carvens
Gina Loring
Cassandra Love
Friday Lubina
Suzanne Lummis
Rick Lupert
Paul Mabon
Nick Macedo
Sarah Maclay
Nikola Madzirov
Paul Manchester
Venessa M. Marco
Don Mancuso (Supaflex)
Beanie Manifesto
Marc Marcel
Ruben Martinez
David Mason
James Maverick
John May
Ellyn Maybe
Oveous Maximus
Randolph Maxted
Jack McCarthy
Terry McCarty
Marty McConnell
David McIntire
Rachel McKibbens
Shayla McMurray
Bill Meis
Joshua Merchant
Mike the Poet
Scott M. Miller
Michelle Mitchell-Foust
Arlan Mitnick
Richard Modiano
Bill Mohr
Thea Monyee
Eric Morago
Aaron Paul Mossett
Jim Natal
Leslie Maryann Neal
Don Newton
Mary Lou Newmark
Mindy Nettifee
Ruth Nolan
Dave Nordling
Harry E. Northup
Kyle Norwood
Sharon Olds
Omar Offendum
Jamie O'Halloran
Michael O'Keefe
David Oliveira
Gaspar Orozco
Judith Pacht
Jaimes Palacio
Melinda Palacio
David W. Parsley
Natalie Patterson
Sherman Pearl
C. Natale Peditto
Milani Pelley
Claudia Perez (X) Brooks
Lucia Perillo
Cece Peri
Alice Pero
Brenda C. Petrakos
Kiki Petrosino
Carl Phillips
Joseph Powell
Prentice Powell
Treesje Powers
Holly Prado
Eric Priestley
Stephany Prodromides
MC Prototype
Saundra Quarterman
Jesse Quick-Rincon
Art "KBEE" Quiros
Jeremy Radin
Steve Ramirez
Shari Randolph
A. Razor
Douglas Richardson
El Rivera
Doren Robbins
Sean Robinson
Ari Robles
Jeffrey Alan Rochlin
Jonathan Rodriguez
Luis J. Rodriguez
Shane Romero
dani roter
Maria A. Ruiz
Mary Kay Rummel
Kay Ryan
Terisa Saigatonu
The Saint
Abel Salas
Bryan Sanders
Andrea Scarpino
David Schectman
Herbert T. Schmidt, Jr.
Matt Sedillo
Anthony Seidman
Jade Shames
Ely Shipley
Ara Shirinyan
Peggy Shumaker
Habiba Shurat
Ciara Shuttleworth
Luke Shuttleworth
Tristan Silverman
Romus Simpson
Elijah Singer
Lee Sloca
Susy Sobel
David St. John
Yesika Starr
Austin Straus
Rob Sturma
Jaz Sufi
Annette Sugden
Mani Suri
Phil Taggart
Dujie Tahat
Quentin "Q" Talley
Terry Taplin
Keren Taylor
Sam Taylor
Steve Taylor
L.K. Thayer
G. Murray Thomas
Storm Thomas
Zack Thomas
Lynne Thompson
Tim Tipton
A.K. Toney
Carine Topal
Natasha Trethewey
Ben Trigg
Maja Trochimczyk
Quincy Troupe
Mehnaz Turner
Ann Tweedy
Kathleen Tyler
Andrew Tyree
Amy Uyematsu
Wanda VanHoy Smith
Sarah Vap
Carla Vega
Doris Vernon
Cara Vida
Beni Villanfana
Pam Ward
Dig Wayne
Charles Harper Webb
Daniel Weingarten
Hilda Weiss
Jacob Weiss
Mari Werner
Maggie Westland
D'dra White
Bruce Williams
C.K. Williams
Demetri Williams
Donald Mace Williams
Kathabela Wilson
Sholeh Wolpé
Robert Wrigley
Gail Wronsky
Akira Yamamoto
Daniel Yaryan
Katayoon Zandvakili
Mariano Zaro
Dorian Zimmerman

Charles Boote Bivins (1948-2010)
by C. Natale Peditto

Charles Bivins was a notorious presence on the Los Angeles poetry scene for nearly thirty years. Those who knew him intimately and befriended him also feared him. Most of us considered him a genius poet. But we also knew how vicious he could become in the fame-seeking world of poetry politics. Demanding his due, he often spitefully played one poet off another. He led a sedentary life using the telephone as his weapon of choice to defame other poets. Sometimes he attacked a poet directly with outright harassment and ridicule. Charles often began his poetry readings with a diatribe, and he once told me he admired Artaud's theatrical project in which, as Charles claimed, the curtain rose to reveal a machine gun aimed at the audience. He was a literary monster. A nasty alcoholic. No niceties about it. Even though he was probably disguising his own personal fears and shortcomings by attacking others, he revealed his contempt for others who did not acknowledge his genius. Who would love him anyway?

At one time he and I ended our relationship, vilely cursing each other. Years later Charles discovered he had diabetes and had to stop drinking. He called to apologize and explained that the chemical imbalances in his body had made him mean. At first I refused to talk with him, but eventually I realized he was trying his best to act as a decent human being. By then he had alienated most of the people he knew, especially the ones who had treated him kindly. I agreed to take him grocery shopping once a month. He always talked poetry in the little time we spent together. His favorite poet was Walt Whitman and he would bring a passage to read to me. He had a prodigious memory and could recite poets and writers by heart. I loved hearing his recitations of Dylan Thomas' poems. Charles's poetry had developed out of the modernist tradition, having read all of James Joyce and T. S. Eliot.  At the end of his life he was reading Eliot's Four Quartets, which he claimed were the final resolution of the poet's body of work. He was also close to the Beat generation in his passions and had spent some of his young years in San Francisco. He identified with Ginsberg, but it was Gary Snyder's work that seems to be reflected in Charles's prosody.

Charles was one of the first poets I met in Los Angeles when I arrived in 1985. After hearing him read at an open reading at Bebop Records in Reseda that summer, we began our long friendship. I was honored to publish his one book of poetry, Music in Silence, almost a decade later. One of the highlights of his last years was his reading with Heat Press poets at Beyond Baroque Literary / Arts Center. He had always wanted to perform his poetry with the poet/saxophonist Elliott Levin who joined him along with keyboardist Don Preston.

He hadn't quite quelled his bitterness but he had become a bit more even-tempered, a remarkable feat for this raging poet, revealing a certain wisdom he had gained through his reading Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. He was a poet with no other job or means of self-support. His physical disability, and that of his brother Patrick, left them dependent on the state for the barest necessities of survival. There were times when he was unable to go shopping, and from time to time he was hospitalized with various maladies. Late last year after being diagnosed with cancer, he was given false hope by doctors who must have realized that the cancer was inoperable and his body was beyond repair. Nevertheless, he was back to writing poetry and claimed it was one of the most prolifically creative periods in his life.  Doctors who had promised him a chance to survive finally admitted to him there was no hope. After collapsing on February 1st, Charles was brought to Valley Presbyterian Hospital to receive the news that he would not survive the cancer. At his bedside were copies of Four Quartets and an old battered paperback edition of Oscar Williams' anthology, Immortal Poems of the English Language. He asked me to read Poe's "Annabelle Lee" to him as he drifted in and out of morphine sleep. When I left him that Sunday afternoon I shook his hand and kissed his forehead. I noticed two blue tablets in which he wrote his final poetry; one very exquisite poem he had read to me over the phone days before that spoke of pathways into the light. Unmistakably a meditation on his own passing.

Charles Bivins died on February 11th ---the Feast of Saint Caedmon, an illiterate Anglo-Saxon monk of the 7th century, who is considered to be the first English vernacular poet. When I attempted to retrieve Charles's belongings the following weekend, no one could tell me what had happened to either his books or the tablets-perhaps containing the prolific outpouring of the final revised version of his masterwork collection, Savage Rose. The hospital admitted that in all probability, his papers were disposed of, according to policy, as the patient's possible infectious remains. Charles believed that all poetry, in one way or another, was political. And that the role of the poet was not respected in our society. Charles was a pariah. In his case, society took the poet's final words and destroyed them, a disgraceful act of neglect and ultimate insult that would have made the mad poet of San Fernando Valley curse the heavens. 

In 1968, in a basement room of the Hotel Paul, San Francisco.
In 1993, when Music in Silences was published.
For information on obtaining Music In Silence,
write to:
Heat Press
P.O. Box 26218
Los Angeles, CA 90026-0218