Red Hens at Flintridge

Mar 24, 2014

Austin Straus at Occidental CollegeAustin Straus is a painter, teacher, speaker, and former host of KPFK’s The Poetry Connexion. His first two poetry collections, Drunk with Light and Intensifications, are described as “fabulous” and continuing “his autobiographical and philosophical explorations of self-in-the-world.”

Now, Pasadena’s own Red Hen Press has just published perhaps his most intimate work, The Love Project: A Marriage Made in Poetry.

There’s plenty of love between Wanda Coleman and Austin Straus, but it has an edge: every kiss, every snuggle, every touch is political. How to make a marriage work under the unyielding pressures of racial bigotry and cultural bias? How to maintain their creativity and independence as poets and artists faced with the daily pressures of survival? For over three decades, Coleman and Straus have grappled with these questions—and with one another. Together, they have built a wall of desire, carnal and spiritual, to shield them from an often unwelcoming world. The Love Project sings their blood oath in an open and jazzy verse that holds nothing back, offering to the world some of the better that has flowered between them. (


Straus joins Mary Armstrong and Jacqueline Tchakalian, this Thursday, March 27th, at Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse for a Red Hen Press Poetry night.

Armstrong has not only had her poems published in Nimrod, The Missouri Review, and The Burnside Review, but she is the financial officer of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and is president of an independent oil and gas production company.

In 2011, Armstrong won the Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition with Burn Pit, that states, “Today we burn the sediment – a crust of oil/that lines the pit behind the Hoffman Well.” The last stanza concludes…

Bees rise like sparks from yellow grass.
The Hoffman’s dog pulls at his chain.
Old dog, there’s nothing you can do
but stand the smoke and wait, like us,
incidental now to what we’ve set, waiting
for the end of fire.


Jacqueline Tchakalian has had her work published in Eclipse, So to Speak, California Quarterly, and Shiela-Na-Gig. She was a finalist in the 2011 Tennessee Williams Festival Poetry Contest. She is also a painter and creates ink drawings.

Her poem “What Do I Know” begins like this:  “Irish and babies have to push their way/into this world, meringue beats lighter/in a copper bowl, ants avoid alum,/and cast iron pans are best for frying fish and potatoes.” Her book of poetry, The Size of Our Bed, will be published by Red Hen Press in September 2015.

Jacqueline Tchakalian

If these samples are an indication of the evening to come, we’re clearing our calendar Thursday night and heading for La Cañada Flintridge.

Red Hen Press Poetry with Host Nicelle Davis
Thursday, March 27th, 7 p.m.
Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse
1010 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge 91011
For complete info, visit or call 818.790.0717

Nicelle Davis (below) will be the evening’s moderator. She has had poems published in many journals, is the author of Circe and Becoming Judas, teaches at Antelope Valley College, blogs at The Bees Knees, is an assistant poetry editor for Connotation Press, and is managing editor for The Los Angeles Review.



Image (top right):  320 Variation on the Circle by Austin Straus, from exhibit at Occidental College.




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