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Beyond Baroque: A Refuge for Free Speech and Poetry

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Located in the old Venice City Hall, built in 1906, is Beyond Baroque, L.A.'s preeminent center for literature and arts. Created by George Drury Smith in 1968 as a meeting place and home of a newsprint 'zine that shared its name, the center followed the lineage of the Venice beats and filled an important gap left by the closing of the Gas House venue and the decline of the poetry scene. Humble to its core, Beyond Baroque has become one of the city's only refuges for free speech and poetry. But even as funding dwindles, Fred Dewey, the center's current Executive Director, has continued to push the organization's mission into the 21st century.


The Edge of Society
"Venice is a very non-conformist part of the city and a lot of people have moved here over the years for that reason."


A History of Beyond Baroque
We started as a zine and then people wanted to come together, so we opened a space. We've been here in Venice since 1968. We opened up on what is now Abbot Kinney Boulevard in a store front.


The Beats
"I think the beats were never really a movement, they were really a group of misfits and people that didn't really fit in, and didn't want to be part of the larger society."


The Beat Players
"It was a struggle to survive in this context and to create. And the words that they came up with are really a testament to that free spirit."


A Poem
"... the feathers are finally leaving my pillow to rejoin the birds of the air..."

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