http://poetrysuperhighway.com/rick/On Tuesday, December 30th, 2014, poets from all around Los Angeles County are expected to attend and share the remembrances in the farewell and reminiscing of a much loved and respected poetry reading venue and its beloved host.
Rick Lupert and his weekly reading, ‘The Cobalt Reading’ series known to be the longest running poetry reading in Los Angeles, held every Tuesday at The Cobalt Café in Canoga Park is sadly coming to a close. It has been a free weekly reading provided by The Cobalt Café’s owner Dave Politi and hosted by Rick Lupert for the past 20 years. An announcement and invitation to attend the Last Hoorah can be found at Lupert’s website Poetry Super Highway and is as follows:
Tuesday December 30, 2014 7:30 PM
Cobalt Reading 20th Anniversary / Farewell Party
It’s a potluck! Bring food and drink of any kind and plan on an evening of reminiscing, socializing, farewell and the mother of all group poems. Not so much a reading tonight but the mic will be open for the sharing of memories. We’ll also be taking donations to send Cobalt owner Dave off with a little bit to help him move forward… so think generously, bring a nosh, and yourself as we end an era.
Sad News from the Cobalt front:
The Cobalt Cafe is closing
After over 20 years of providing an all-ages venue for music and poetry in the West San Fernando Valley, the Cobalt will be closing it’s doors at the end of 2014. We’re planning a 20th Anniversary/Farewell event for Tuesday night December 30th at the Cobalt. So please save the date for that.
Thank you very much to Dave Politi, the Cobalt Cafe owner for essentially giving a giant donation to the L.A. Poetry community over the last 20 years by providing the venue for free on Tuesday nights. We wish you nothing but the best in health and success in whatever adventures lay ahead for you.
There’s a very slim chance the Cobalt will be sold, and if so we have no idea if the new owners would be interested in continuing to offer the venue for the reading to continue. It’s all very unlikely but we will update you if anything develops.
Thanks very much to the thousands of people who have attended the weekly reading over the last 20 years that I’ve had the privilege to host it.
Since 1990, Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community. Well known for his quirky and hilarious poetry, he is considered one of the funniest voices in L.A. poetry today. He has hosted the long running Cobalt Café reading series in Canoga Park since 1994 and is regularly featured at venues throughout Southern California. For two years he was co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a twenty-five year old non-profit organization that regularly publishes the poets of Los Angeles, and in particular the poetry of the San Fernando Valley as well as organizes poetry readings.
His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including The Los Angeles Times, Rattle, Chiron Review, Stirring, The Blue Jew Yorker… read more
Rick created and maintains the Poetry Super Highway, an online resource and publication for poets.
Currently Rick works as the music teacher and graphic and web designer for ‘anyone who would like to help pay his mortgage’.
Why is the Cobalt closing?
The Cobalt is closing because Dave Politi, the owner isn’t making the money needed to maintain it. His business model worked really well for a long time but it’s been tough the last couple of years and he’s barely making enough to pay the bills let alone sustain himself. He’s also had some serious other issues which has taken his focus away.
How long did The Cobalt Poets Broadsides Series run?
It ran for almost 21 years…opened in it’s current location in January of 1994. I took over the reading a month or 2 into that. It had been going for a few years prior to that in another location in Woodland Hills.
What is the story about the creation of the broadsides? What gave you the idea?
I was looking for a way to reinvigorate the series a while back. I’d had featured readers presented by the Valley Contemporary Poets once a month for several years, but I decided at the beginning of 2003 (I think) to start booking featured readers every week. I wanted to compensate them in some way. Passing a tip-hat didn’t seem like the right way to go for a venue which is often at least partially inhabited by a much younger crowd. I remembered the Laguna Poets series which Pat Cohee ran for many years. He would publish a chapbook for his featured reader EVERY SINGLE WEEK! He’d sell the books for $3…the poet would get all the money and any leftover books. (Amazing Pat Cohee!!!) I didn’t want to make a chapbook every week, but as a graphic designer the idea of doing a broadside once a week seemed doable. So I did! The first one was for my first featured reader, Brendan Constantine and 419 have come along since then. I’ve tried to not repeat a featured reader all that time…there were a couple of times I’d forgotten. (C’est la vie…). The broadsides started out black and white, printed at Kinko’s…eventually I brought a used tabloid sized color printer and started printing them at home. So full color broadsides came along (plus I didn’t have to leave the house to pick them up!) So many amazing people have come through the Cobalt reading…touring poets, Cobalt regulars, and hundreds of other Southern California poets. The Valley Contemporary Poets have continued to present a featured reader once a month since they started in the 90’s, and I’ve since partnered with other organizations such as The Hollywood Institute of Poetics and Poetry Solves Problems on a regular basis to get their sensibility into the mix. I also have frequently invited individual poets to pick and present the featured reader. The idea behind all of this, as I’ve said many times from the Cobalt Cafe stage, is to increase the sensibility of who is presented there beyond my own, presenting as wide as possible gamut of voices.
How many broadsides are there?
There are currently 418 broadsides…next week 419 and not sure if I’ll do a ‘final’ one of some kind. You can see them all online here.
Will you be hosting at another location after the ‘last hoorah’ on Tuesday night?
Definitely open to it, will start thinking more about it after the Cobalt ends. I’d want to do it at a place where I have the same kind of freedom and trust as I did at the Cobalt. I’d continue the “Cobalt Poets Broadsides Series” if it happens. Dave mentioned he’s trying to sell the Cobalt. If he does end up selling it, it’s possible, I suppose, the new owners might want to continue (or re-start) the reading after a period of remodeling… but it feels like a pipe dream. Like I said I’m open to it. Say the new owners (if that even happens) wanted to do it; I have no doubt I would. In terms of another venue, it’d just be more work to look and find a place that was right and I’m not going to put any energy into thinking about that until January.
Definitely not even hinting at ‘never’.
In closing, Cobalt Poets Broadsides Series is a valuable piece of Los Angeles poetry history. It has hosted the features of probably every great poet from the City of Angles, each one now, to soon realize the value and beauty of their own personal Broadside from Rick Lupert and the Cobalt Café. Until we hear of another new venue for this magical and hilarious host, the best you can get when its over will be a trip through the Poetry Super Highway where, seriously and hilariously, anything can happen. You can also check out the famous collection of Broadsides.
Learn more about the history of the Cobalt Cafe on their website here and on their Wikipedia page here.