• Sherman Pearl

      Sherman Pearl

      An interview with Sherman Pearl, a treasured poet in Los Angeles, a leader, an activist, and a friend to many, who inspires others with his wit and passion.

      His unique personal, realistic grasp of the human condition is infused with humorous and tender vision.

      By Kathabela Wilson

      A microscope on the poet

      What do you see, looking back at your beginnings in Poetry?

      I came to poetry in a small house in Boyle Heights that was inhabited by parents, a grandmother and four musically talented siblings. The poems I wrote as a small child were my cry for attention. It worked. My mother, who read no poetry, would stand me on a chair to recite my poetry for relatives and neighbors, which brought both her and me recognition. I knew even then I would become some kind of writer, but never imagined it would be as a poet.

      Pulse of the poet

      Your mother reminds me of mine, proud of my poetry, so encouraging. Your career since, reminds me of my father, a lifelong journalist, my childhood hero. He was always writing a poem on the side. How did your career turn back to, and center on poetry?

      Nearly half a century from my mother’s applause, after a career as a journalist, anti-war activist, speech-writer for some prominent Sherman Pearl reading his poetrypoliticians and grant writer for arts and charitable organizations, I finally became a poet. The occasion was my daughter’s confirmation (bas mitzvah), for which, on impulse, I delivered a poem instead of a speech. The long-dormant poetry bug had revived to bite me. My virtually unpaid career had begun. Nearly 5,000 poems and five books later, I’m still at it.

      Compass of the poet

      What is the focus of your poetry, what draws you, and how do you go about writing it?

      Poetry for me is not just a way of life; it is quite literally a source of new life. My new collection, “Elegy for Myself”, contains many memories and anecdotes from my life–childhood, love, marriage, divorce, parenthood–but is primarily addressed to the experience we all must go through (if we live long enough)–aging. That’s what I know best in this phase of my life, so that’s mostly what I write about. Sherman Pearl reading at Moonday WestI’m not the kind of poet who waits for the muse to make an appearance. I’m more a production line poet who applies seat to chair early each morning and starts writing, often not knowing what I want to say. I think of it as a way to lure the muse to come and tell me. That’s one of the joys of poetry, the adventure of entering a poem and following it’s lead. It’s taken me years to develop the confidence to write about nothing–maybe a penny I picked up from the street. It’s magical when it turns out to be gold.

      Telescope to the poet

      You’ve been recognized in the Poetry world as a leader and organizer, fostering the life of poets in Southern California, what have you done, and are you up to now?

      As for the future, it always surprises me. Some 25 years ago as I just starting to write my friend Suzanne Lummis asked me to join the founding committee of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival; that brought into the heart of the L.A. poetry community. I’ve also served as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets. About five years ago I joined the board of the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, and I served for three years as its president. The Poem in Time of War by Sherman PearlAmong other things I initiated its Young Poets program and its annual Testimonial Dinner program, honoring our area’s most cherished poets.

      Tomorrow at Beyond Baroque, May 31, I’ll be introducing my fifth book, “Elegy to Myself” accompanied by my “blues brother” Bernie Pearl. Bernie is a prominent player of traditional blues and a master of acoustic guitar. He has studied and played with several blues legends. He’s also an anomaly–a Jewish kid from Boyle Heights who’s dedicated his life to preserving authentic downhome blues. I’ll be celebrating the new book with my wife, Meredith Gordon, a tile artist. After 25 years of marriage to me– she’s still a good kisser.

      I Forgot Something
      By Sherman Pearl

      On my way out, I brushed past you
      with a wave, my head already in the car.
      Two blocks gone I screeched a u-turn
      and headed back home. Something
      I needed was lost in the fringes of memory;
      I couldn’t go on without it. I patted
      my pockets, searched the back seat,
      the glove compartment, and asked myself
      how I could’ve left something
      vital; tried to picture what I’d forgotten.

      I know It’s somewhere here in the house
      but can’t fathom where to start looking–
      I’ll be late if I don’t find it soon
      and if I can’t name it you can’t help me.
      Except maybe by holding the door open
      and kissing me goodbye,
      as though we might never kiss again.


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        • Kathabela Wilson

          Kathabela Wilson is a local poet/writer/artist and musician. Her Poets Salon has become an international respected must read in the poetry world. She's the creator and host of the Pasadena-based group, “Poets on Site.”

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

        • Latest posts by Kathabela Wilson

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      1. Alice Pero says:

        Nice interview. Great to see the pictures of Sherman at Village Books/Moonday too.

      2. Susan Dobay says:

        So glad I had a chance to meet Sherman Pearl’s poetry and a glimpse into his life story.

      3. Alex Nodopaka says:

        OK Sherman! You’re just another pearl in His crown!
        Thanks for spreading our news.

        So I’m singing, this is my kinda love
        It’s the kind that moves on
        It’s the kind that leaves you alone, yeah
        Oh this is my kinda love
        It’s the kind that moves on
        It’s the kind that leaves me alone

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