Suzanne Lummis

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Suzanne Lummis (born 1951)[citation needed] is a poet, poetry teacher, and co-founder and present director of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival.

Early life and education[edit]

Lummis completed her M.A. in English/Creative Writing at Fresno State University where she studied with Philip Levine.

She is the granddaughter of Charles Fletcher Lummis.[1]


Since 1991, she has taught poetry at UCLA Extension, including a course she developed “Poetry and the Movies: The Poem Noir.” She has led the beginning through master class workshops in poetry.

Lummis's seminal work comingling poetry and film noir has helped to define the poem noir motif—an edgy style that achieves a fusion of urban grit and urbane wit—causing fellow poet Mike Sonksen (aka Mike the Poet) to dub her "a poetic Raymond Chandler."[2] In fall of 2011 she was an instrumental creative force behind the citywide, multi-arts series "Night and the City: L.A. Noir in Poetry, Fiction and Film."

She is the present director of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, which produces poetry events in Los Angeles and its environs. She combines her background in poetry writing and theater by performing with the language-driven troupe Nearly Fatal Women.[3] This group, which she helped to found, has appeared at The Knitting Factory in New York, Knox College in Illinois, Beyond Baroque and MOCA in Los Angeles, and various other performance venues.

Lummis edits the online literary magazine Speechless the Magazine, which is published by Tebot Bach.[4] This eclectic journal of "poetry and related arts straight from L.A." has published issues covering topics such as "L.A. Poetry: Then and Now",[5] "Poetry Goes to the Fights",[6] and more recently "Speechless Goes to the Movies," which chronicles poets' impassioned love affair with the movies. If you've ever wondered what Allen Ginsberg's favorite movies were, be sure to check out "Poets' Favorite Movies Revealed at Last" in this issue.[7]

Lummis is the literary coordinator of the Arroyo Arts Collective in Northeast Los Angeles.[8] From 1995 until 2003, the Arroyo Arts Collective sponsored five "Poetry in the Windows" competitions in Highland Park. During those events, poems appeared in store windows that included a pet shop, barber shop, drug store, laundermat, and bakery. Since 2006, the Arroyo Arts Collective has sponsored the annual Lummis Day for which Lummis hosts the poetry festivities honoring her grandfather and celebrating the spirit and diverse culture of Northeast Los Angeles.[9]

As visiting poet-professor, Lummis has mentored seven-to-thirteen-year-old emerging poets at the Santa Fe Springs Art and Poetry Camp at Heritage Park and The Clarke Estate, co-sponsored by Friends of the Junior Arts Center. Her poetry and theater skills were applied in the summer of 2002 when she wrote the lyrics for a children's musical production of Twelfth Night produced in Beverly Hills and La Jolla by the ETC Theater Company.[10] Her own two plays, October 22, 4004 B.C., Saturday and Night Owls, were produced in Washington State and Houston, Texas, as well at The Cast Theater, Los Angeles.


In 1996, Lummis was awarded the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Creative Writing. The late Drama-Logue honored two of her Los Angeles productions with playwriting awards. She was the recipient of a Rockefeller Grant for playwriting. Twice, the Poetry Society of America has selected Lummis's poems to be displayed on public transportation in their Poetry in Motion Project. In 2006, WriteGirl awarded Lummis their Bold Ink Award, which honors the voices of fearless women writers. Lummis is included in the new five-volume Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry (2005).[11]

In February 2008, a tribute was held in honor of Lummis at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice Beach, CA.[12]

In 2009, she was among the 45 writers selected by the National Endowment for the Arts to represent literary Los Angeles at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, which last year explored the history and arts of Los Angeles.[13]


Lummis is principal editor of Grand Passion: The Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond (LAPF) and editor of Open Windows (Arroyo Arts Collective), Matchbook: A Little Collection of Flammable Poems (Paperback), and the forthcoming anthology Master Class in Poetry (Duende Books). Her poetry collections include two books, Idiosyncrasies (Illuminati) and In Danger (Heyday Books/Roundhouse Press), and one chapbook, Falling Short of Heaven (Pennywhistle).

Her poems have appeared in the anthologies California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present (Heyday Books), Poems of the American West (Knopf), How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets (Heyday Books), Place as Purpose: Poetry of the Western States (Autry/Sun & Moon Press), Poetry Daily: 366 Poems (Sourcebooks, Inc.), Stand Up Poetry (University of Iowa Press), and in major literary publications in the United States and United Kingdom, including Poetry International, The Antioch Review, The Hudson Review, Ploughshares,[14] and Pool.

Selected poems[edit]

  • "Everywhere I Go There I Am"[15]
  • "Hurrying Toward the Present"[15]
  • "Medusa Depressed"[15]
    This poem made its debut in England in the literary magazine Agenda and was later reprinted in the arts and culture magazine of the national English newspaper The Independent.
  • "Take That Chance You've Been Considering"[16]
  • "The Perfect Man"[17]
  • "My Worst Poem"[17]

Personal life[edit]

Lummis lives in Northeast Los Angeles.


External links[edit]