Editor’s Note: Not being poetry aficionados (though we are enthusiasts), our initial reaction to hearing “whisky and poetry” in the same sentence conjured pictures of Dylan Thomas or Charles Bukowski, slurred words, emphatic tangents, empty bottles, and the greeting the dawn. So, of course, our interest was peaked.
We spoke with contributor Kim Ohanneson about her new endeavor.
In November 2012, Kim Ohanneson & Karolyn Kiisel of Literary Libations, and Johnnie “theScot” Mundell, “ambassador” for Morrison-Bowmore Scotch, inaugurated the Whisky & Poetry Salon at the B Black Penthouse in DTLA.
Our goal has been to trade guests “whisky for their words”, to create an intimate literary and poetic community, to share the work of significant but under-exposed poets from the Los Angeles community and beyond, and, of course, to drink some really top-drawer scotch!
Every two months, Salon attendees bring a poem, original or not, and read it in a candlelit loft surrounded by 30-40 whisky and poetry aficionados. In return, they get a flight of fine whiskies with tasting notes and history.
There is always a featured poet.
We are thrilled to welcome poet and actress Grace Zabriskie as our featured poet to the Thursday, June 27th Whisky & Poetry Salon. Grace is best known as an actress who has acted in iconic TV shows such as Twin Peaks, Seinfeld, and Big Love but is also a talented poet and artist.
One of Grace’s friends read her delightful, funny poem Queen of the Waste Stream at our February Salon and we loved it so much that we invited her to be our feature in June. We are so honored that she accepted.
Guests arrive at the historic B Black & Sons Woolens Building, located at 546 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (between 5th and 6th Streets) at 7:00 pm. There is a parking lot ($4-$5) across the street; occasionally, it’s blocked off for special events but there are other parking lots/parking options in the neighborhood.
Paid guests give their names to our security doorman, and ride up six floors in the attendant-operated elevator – the oldest in Los Angeles – to the B Black Penthouse foyer for conversation and light bites.
At 7:30, guests enter the salon, which has a dramatic view of the Downtown L.A. skyline, and are directed to seats around a central table where candle light glows off sparkling glasses and bottles of fine whisky. To encourage mingling and an inclusive sense of community, parties are broken up and individuals are seated separately.
After distribution of the first dram and a welcome by the hosts, including information about the first whisky, the poetry reading begins. The hosts choose who reads when; people stand at their seats or come to the candlelit table in the center to read. There’s no mic.
The featured poet reads a poem right before a brief, mid-evening break; the evening ends with 15 minutes by the feature who receives an honorarium. Samples of four different whiskies, accompanied by brief tasting notes, are distributed throughout the evening, which ends at approximately 9:30 pm although guests are welcome to stay until 10 pm for coffee, conversation, and more poetry.
The cost is $25; unlike most poetry readings, this is NOT a drop-in event. Tickets MUST be purchased in advance through Eventbrite; NO tickets will be sold at the door.
The elevator is noisy so out of respect for those reading, elevator service stops at 7:30. The security doorman is at the door to let paid guests in until right before the break at approximately 8:30 pm. However, anyone arriving after 7:30 has to climb the six flights of stairs to the penthouse; it’s safe but steep!
Whisky & Poetry Salon
Thursday, June 27th, 7 p.m.
546 S. Los Angeles St., L.A. 90013
For questions, contact Kim Ohanneson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more at Facebook/pages/Whisky-and-Poetry-Salon
All photos courtesy of Whisky & Poetry Salon.