A painter, retired English instructor, and performer of his poetry, Austin Straus frequently, informally, exhibits prints, one-of-a-kind artists’ books, and paintings in conjunction with readings at libraries, community arts centers, galleries, and other venues, including a late 90s ‘Writers on Site’ Residency, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center, sponsored by Poets & Writers. The former Southwest Regional Coordinator of Amnesty International and Poetry Connexion radio talk-show host has published two books of poems with Red Hen Press: Drunk with Light (2002) and Intensifications (2010), for which he did the cover art.
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.
Praise for The Love Project: A Marriage Made in Poetry:
“One of the royal couples of the L.A. poetry scene.”—LA Weekly
“Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize winner Coleman joins with her husband, poet/painter Straus, to offer the story of a marriage that crosses racial and cultural lines. An affecting, even sweet, account touched by a political knife’s edge.”—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“If any young, wistful romantics out there suppose marriage might be an easy ride, let them read The Love Project and be wiser. If there are cynics who scoff at the idea that a certain man and a certain woman can be bound together by destiny and their own immortal love, and, in the whole galaxy, there could be no one better suited for either of them than each other, then those jaded ones must read The Love Project and promptly admit before all creation—and on YouTube—that they were wrong. The rest of us, meanwhile, will celebrate this fascinating collaboration by one of the region’s premier poet couples because it provides what has been lately hard to come by: naked, tender, fierce and funny love poems for our times.”—Suzanne Lummis, author of In Danger
Austin Straus’ second book of poetry, Intensifications, continues his autobiographical and philosophical explorations of self-in-the-world, with poems about growing up in Brooklyn, New York, his three marriages, life in San Diego and Los Angeles, his political activism, the writing process, the world’s beauties and horrors, and his creative awareness of all sorts of amazing things going on around him. Included also are several “found poems.” The big question for Austin Straus is how to stay relatively sane, while maintaining a sense of humor, in a universe that is intent on driving one mad.
Today Red Hen remembers one if its beloved poets, Austin Straus. Austin published three collections of poetry with Red Hen Press, including Drunk With Light, Intensifications, and The Love Project: […]