The Collective is made up of hundreds of Los Angeles poets and writers who have studied at one time or another with Jack Grapes. We hold readings, writing classes, seminars, retreats, dramatic productions, and (in conjunction with Bombshelter Press), sponsor the publication of books, anthologies, and literary journals that are distributed and sold throughout the United States in bookstores, through Amazon, and through our web site at bombshelterpress.com. These publications include essays, interviews, and work from nationally recognized writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, Charles Bukowski, Tom Wolfe, Allen Ginsberg, Sharon Olds, Arthur Miller, E.L. Doctorow, Gracy Paley, John Irving, Philip Levine, and Lyn Lifshin, as well as poetry and prose from writers in the Collective.
Three of our literary journals--ONTHEBUS, Rattle, and Spillway--have been critically acclaimed for years; Esquire called ONTHEBUS "one of the top ten literary journals in the country." Library Journal wrote that "ONTHEBUS was destined to become a major aftershock in American literary history."
Members of the Collective are poets & writers, playwrights & actors, screenwriters & directors, composers & musicians, designers & painters, artists & brain surgeons, basketball players & jockeys, weightlifters & dancers, rodeo-riders & horses, rabbits & magicians, flamingos & caterpillars, dragons & butterflies.
While the classes focus on the creative process, we're not blind to the fact that once product is created, there's a natural urge to get it published or produced, to have it find its place in the world, whether as a play, a novel, a book of poems, a screenplay, or a one-person show. The Collective is a cooperative enterprise in which there are "no dues and no meetings." It's a pool of talent that can be galvanized around a particular project or enterprise at any time.
A simple writing exercise ends up becoming a film which wins a best-director award at AFI. Two members of the Collective publish a book of poems and produce their own One-Woman Show for Two Women, which runs for several months at the Complex in Hollywood. Sue Gaetzman's hit one-woman show, Blood Sugar, based on journal entries written in class, gets rave reviews, and two producers approach her to buy the film rights. Several members of the Collective have published novels recently, and many others their first book of poems. The Los Angeles Slam Team finishes 5th and 3rd in the national slam competition; 7 of the 12 poets on the team are members of the Collective.
We defy and accept all schools of art
We reject and include all styles of poetry
We create and destroy all monuments to theory
We discard and embrace all forms of writing
We invite and betray all habitation and name
We worship and blaspheme all theories of literature
We are not exclusively stand-up poets or maverick writers, feminist writers or gay & lesbian poets, language or neo-narrative poets & writers. We are not exclusively African-, Latino-, Asian-, Native, or any other hyphenated American writers, but all and one of the same. We are not exclusively confessional poets & writers, nor new formalists, imagists, symbolists, surrealists, modern/post modernists, political-post-ists, post-avant-garde-ists, pre- or post-Raphaelite-modernists. We partake of all and exclude none.
We are not New York poets, nor L.A. poets. We are not Seattle writers nor Portland writers, Southern poets, mid-western poets, northwestern poets, South-North-Eastern Western Transatlantic Oceanus Islander poets. We are poets and writers who live in the world; we write about the world, whether that world be the corner of Vicksburg and Hartley in Diamond Back Illinois or the corner of Tuscon and Tierra del Fuego on Planet Earth.
We are not urban,
we are not rural.
We are not proletarian,
we are not court apologists.
We are poets and writers of the 21st Century.
We celebrate a cleansing away
of all the soot
of 20th-Century industrial theoretical pollution--
while we embrace every one of its dark particles.
We are poets of transformation and rigidity.
We proclaim the manifest destiny of the pen
and the hand and the computer,
the sentence and the name and face.
We protest and we burn,
we assemble and we build.
We look to the East as well as the West.
We gaze to the North as well as to the South.
We are the dissipative structures
of non-equilibrium thermodynamics.
We oscillate from Being to Becoming,
from Becoming to Being.
We speak no one's mind
and no one's heart
but the heart and mind of the collective.
Yet, we care not a whit for the collective;
we elevate the individual,
the collective be damned.
We sleep with chaos.
We dance with tradition.
We garden with the flesh.
We landscape with the mind.
We open with the arm.
We close with the eye.
We resuscitate with the mouth.
We grasp with the heart.
We contradict ourselves.
We sound our barbaric yawp
over the rooftops of the world.