Over the past year, more than 80 poets from the Beat Not Beat poetry anthology (Moon Tide Press, 2022) have rocked the California mic, igniting stages from L.A. to San Francisco.
Words from this publication have sparked inspiration and imagination at iconic venues like Beyond Baroque, the Beat Museum, the Marin Poetry Center, the Ruskin Theatre in Santa Monica, and Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural. Additionally, poets have performed to packed rooms at Skylight Books, Stories Books & Cafe, North Figueroa Bookshop, Bird & Beckett Books, and other bookstores at the forefront of our poetry community. What makes the anthology both Beat and Not Beat is that it doesn’t dwell on the past. It intertwines the timeless works of poetry legends Bob Kaufman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Diane di Prima with today’s fresh, fiery voices. Think Lynne Thompson, Luis J. Rodriguez, Robert Hass, and a diverse ensemble of lesser-known poets whose words echo the movement’s original rebellion against the rigid norms of mainstream culture.
The birth of Beat Not Beat took place in 2020, a year reverberating with the call for change and racial reckoning. The power of poetry during this transformative era cannot be underestimated. While the quest for diversity in creative spheres had been ongoing for decades, 2020 was a game-changer. Beat Not Beat embodies the essence of inclusivity, showcasing an eclectic mix of races, genders, and voices beyond the predominantly white and male composition of the original Beat movement. The poets within these pages have molded that rebellious spirit into a dynamic, living manifesto and cultural odyssey.
The Beat Not Beat Tour, which began in September 2022 and finishes in November 2023, celebrates the spirit of revolution and artistic freedom flowing through California’s veins. It’s an homage to the original concept of dissent, where poets once wielded their words as weapons to challenge the status quo, sparking fires of change. It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of the Beat Generation, a legacy that refuses to gather dust. The book, the tour, and the community of Beat Not Beat artists is a force that continues to inspire lyrical rebellion here and around the globe.
Beat Not Beat is a testament to how California’s past and present poets are a creative conflagration in the darkness, a beacon of optimism and uprising. They’re the guardians of the ever-evolving pulse of poetry, pushing boundaries and reminding us that the spirit of rebellion is alive, well, and more poetic than ever. Don’t just read it; live it, breathe it, and be inspired by it. Beat Not Beat is your ride to the vibrant, rebellious heart of California’s literary scene.
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