February 17, 2013



When Douglas Messerli, editor of Sun and  Moon Press, moved to Los Angeles in 1985, he perceived that one of the major problems of Los Angeles cultural life was a lack of regular dialogue. After a few months in the city, at the home of Marjorie and Joe Perloff in Pacific Palisades, he held a party for poetry writers of all types, including widely verging poetic perspectives, to try to mend any partisan differences. Beginning a few months later, Sun and Moon Press and Messerli began to hold “literary salons,” first in his own home, later in his Sun and Moon offices on Wilshire Boulevard, which centered on major international authors, each reading for a short period (10-15 minutes) followed with hours d’ oeuvres and wine; the purpose, as he has written, was “to introduce new writers to the city by personally communicating with local poets, dramatists, and fiction writers. It was not an attempt to create a ‘performance,’ but to present a voice with whom the local writers might relate to and communicate, personally questioning the figure after.”

     Every month for the next several years, from 1986-2004, Messerli, with his companion Howard Fox, often severing as bartender, “caterer,” and social personage, Sun and Press presented major world writers in a literary “salon” format, among them: Charles Bernstein, Jerome Rothenberg, Kathleen Fraser, Stacey Levine, Ray DiPalma, Jacques Roubaud, Harry Matthews, Rae Armantrout, Arkadii Dragomoschenko, Regís Bonvicino, José Donoso, Bill Zavatsky and Zack Rogow (reading from their translations of André Breton), Carl Rakosi, Martha RonkJackson Mac Low, Tom Raworth, David Bromige, Armand Gatti, David Antin, Jerome Lawrence, Martin Nakell, John Perreault, Dennis Phillips, Thorvald Steen, Barbara Guest, Fanny Howe, Paul Auster, Nathaniel Mackey, John Steppling, Diane Ward, Sam Eisenstein, Ronald Tavel, Alfredo Giuliani, Wendy Walker, Henri Deluy, Lilliane Giraudon, David Greenspan, Leslie Scalapino, Paul Vangelisti, Cees Nooteboom, Curtis White, Murat-Nemat Nejat, Michael Palmer, Ronald Tavel, Michael LentzRobert Glück, Deborah MeadowsGuy Bennett, Rosmarie Waldrop, Michael Davidson, Mac Wellman, Saul Yurkievich, Bruce Andrews, Hannah Wiener, Valére Novarina, Suzan Lori-Parks, Christopher Middleton, Aaron Shurin, Robert Crosson, Yang Lian, Xi Murong, Tom La Farge, Eleni Sikelianos, Jean Frémon, Jeff Weinstein, Murray Pomerance, Joe Ross, John O’Keefe and numerous others. The press often celebrated dinners after the events. It also hosted, with other organizations, readings of major Italian poets, a celebration of major American publishers, and other larger events. Sun and Moon and Messerli’s later press, Green Integer, later supported a dramatic reading series with the local theater company, Bottoms Dream, which included plays by Mac Wellman, Djuna Barnes, Kier Peters, Kelly Stuart, Len Jenkin, Murray Mednick, Ronald Tavel, David Greenspan,  Jeffrey Jones, and a wide range of other theater plays.

Douglas Messerli

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