Sorry I missed the memorial Sunday afternoon for FrancyEyE aka Frances Dean Smith. She was the first poet in Los Angeles I met you inspired and nurtured me as a young poet. She was a friend and mentor. I met her first at a reading for the Venice Poetry Working at Beyond Baroque in the mid-1970s when she read a perfect poem to a child. She was the poet who impressed me the most that evening, and inspired me to start attending the Venice Poetry Working Wednesday nights, a crucial first step in my becoming a poet.
Every Wednesday I would go and the room on Washington Avenue in Venice was full of 20-30 poets; FrancEyE would be there with her daughter Marina, who was about 10, half-sleeping in her lap--the only woman who would bring a child. She had lived with Bukowski, and Marina was his only child. Bukowski at that time was making an international reputation, and FrancyEyE was our link to him--living proof that you could be internationally known and make your living as a writer in Los Angeles. She always sat beaming in the workshop, with her child in her lap and her terrific poems and teriffic comments to help other poets. She always wrote wonderful poetry, worked a full-time day job, raised her child, and encouraged younger poets, particularly younger women poets. I used to go out to dinner with her occassionally. She had three previous daughters and a divorce, come to Los Angeles to retstart her life as a poet. She told me stories about workshops and people she knew in Los Angeles poetry in the 1960s. She was the person who supported and inspired me the most when I was a very struggling very insecure new poet.
FrancEye could have traded in on Bukowksi's fame by writing a book about him but she never did. Also, at that time Bukowski was often writing about FrancEye and his daughter Marina and publishing these poems. It was fun reading her ex-s poems about her. In one pome Bukowski portrays FrancEyE as nagging him but she's right and he's wrong. Her poetry books are "Snaggletooth in Ocean Park" (Sacred Beverage Press, 1996), "Amber Spider" (Pearl, 2004), "Grandma Stories" (Conflux Press, 2008) and “Call” (Rose of Sharon Press, 2008).I saw Marina grow up over the years. FrancEyE told me her daughter, with two poet parents, became an engineer for her career. FrancEyE was a terrific woman, a terrific poet, and a terrific mom.
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