They Write by Night, Episode 11
The best of times, the worst of times, the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness, the epoch of belief, the epoch of incredulity, the season of Light, the season of Darkness, the spring of hope, the winter of despair. . .
That Dickens, damn! He really had a bead on Our Times. And, just think, he died a hundred and fifty years before our times. I can’t add a thing to his run-down of how it is, except:
It is the era of obliviousness, it is the era of dread.
In #11, we’re carrying on in our season of darkness, and we’re doing Dread. Between a fine John Altman-lit portrayal of fear in He Walked by Night and the best film noir description of dread in Double Indemnity, this installment offers They Write by Night aficionados plenty to dread, except for the widespread dread of poems that don’t rhyme. R.S. Gywnn’s sonnet, “The Great Fear,” rhymes—smart, unpredictable rhymes, not trite, horrible ones like blue, and true, and you. Which I dread.
Also: Joe calls and tries to get me to drive over to The House of Pies, but I’ve got stuff on my plate—not a real plate with actual pie. Not an imaginary garden with real noir toads in it. I have to do a mea culpa type of thing, re. this word. (See, view, TWBN #10). And the word isn’t Dread. Oh no, it goes on longer.
– Suzanne Lummis
Top image credit to www.Poetry.LA
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Lummis, noted practitioner and exponent of NOIR POETRY, unpacks a genre infused with the ethos of mid-20th Century hard-boiled fiction and crime movies, presenting examples from poets both living and “quite dead.” An influential teacher through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, Lummis produced a 2011 city-wide, 25-event series, “Night in the City: L.A. Noir Poetry, Fiction and Film.” Her 2012 essay “The Poem Noir — Too Dark to Be Depressed” (Malpais Review, Vol. 3, No. 3) is essential reading on the subject. Lummis was awarded a 2018/19 C.O.L.A. (City of Los Angeles) fellowship to create a series of new poems. Her most recent collection is Open 24 Hours (Lynx House Press). Her poems have appeared in three Knopf "Everyman's Poetry" anthologies, including Killer Verse: Poems of Murder and Mayhem, and in The Antioch Review, New Ohio Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry and The New Yorker. She edited the anthology "Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond" (Pacific Coast Poetry Series/Beyond Baroque Books) named one of the Ten Best Books of 2015 in the Los Angeles Times. (Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher)