Los Angeles Poet SpotlightApril 30, 2013
Getting Serious with Radomir Vojtech LuzaInterviewed by Jessica M. Wilson
It is highly likely that Radomir Vojtech Luza and I live about 5 minutes away from each other. We frequent the same coffee shops, walk and drive up the same Lankershim Blvd., and have an incredible passion for poetry and the poetic. He is the recently named Poet Laureate of North Hollywood, and he's earned it. Having served and currently serving as President of the NoHo West Neighborhood Council, and a member of the Mid-Town NoHo Neighborhood Council, Radomir continues to contribute an honest and determined voice, representing his community. He's hosted NoHo’s longest running spoken word/open mic show, for 31 months, called UNBUCKLED: NoHo POETRY alongside his good friend and Poet, Mary Anneeta Mann. His honesty and compassion have served him well.
I dared to pry and find out where all this came from...
JW: Thank you for sharing your CD of spoken word, The Forking Road; I enjoyed it very much. Though the title may be a bit tongue and cheek, the content is very real. You remain exposed throughout much of the collection. I especially enjoyed the poems: Nothing, For your mother, and For Sylvia... You are very confessional in your poetry, and I can tell you have a soft spot for Sylvia Plath. What do you think makes her relatable to your work, and to your life as a Poet?
RVL: Yes, I do have a very soft spot in my heart for Sylvia Plath; one made of feather and down. Her honesty and imagery affect and dance in my head, my throne of thrones, but it is my soul and heart where I feel her presence the deepest. As a woman and an artist in the times that she lived in she did not have it easy, but she persevered and in the end became one of, if not the best, American poet of her generation.
My work is touched by hers in its honesty, ability to relate, and wild, rainbow imagery. If not for her and her ocean of dove white sand I would not be the poet I am nor the thinker I want to be nor, most importantly, the human being I long to be. I take risks in my work and in my life because of her that I never would had she not existed.
Let's face it, the similarities are frightening. She killed herself the same year I was born, the same month, I believe, and struggled, as she so wonderfully described in her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar with mental breakdowns. I have been hospitalized in mental institutions or mental hospitals four times so far in my 49 years and I pray I never have to go back. It has been over six years since my last visit and I really understand, comprehend and empathize with what Ms. Plath lived through and had the guts to write about. Many poets, I get the feeling lately, do not want me to write about my battles with mental illness and being "locked-up," anymore, but that is because many of them have never had to go through the experiences I did. Just to recover from that, if you ever really do, or write a collection of poetry inside a mental hospital as I did with, Fourth Nuthouse In September, is a nearly impossible task.
JW: I don't think many people can imagine just how much of your "soul" you reveal in your writing -- especially in the instances of these extreme experiences you've lived through. You are very telling. Tell me, are there things you'd never choose to share in a poem, or tell in accurate light?
RVL: There is nothing really that I would not share in a poem or tell in an inaccurate light. I try not to use profanity in my poetry because whatever it is it can be better described through poetic imagery and language. I have shared just about everything there is to share in written and spoken words, so it seems the next step is to say something different and say it better with more maturity, wisdom and strength. There is always more to say. You just have to know how to say it.
JW: Well said...you have picked the perfect profession. Have you always wanted to be a Poet? Tell me more about your poetic journey.
RVL: In 1986 upon my first return to my hometown of New Orleans after living in New York City and almost having a nervous breakdown I decided to start writing what I felt and thought down. I never thought of being a poet or anything like that. I wanted to be an actor and that's why I went to New York. The thought of being a poet never entered my mind. My first few poems, I remember, were highly charged and political. I read them at poetry readings and nobody said no you can't read that anymore or we disagree with you or anything like that so I started going on a regular basis.
As I said earlier, my experiences in the mental health system as well as being homeless out here has led me to new oranges and yellows in my writing. I was just named Poet Laureate of North Hollywood and my poem "The Second John Paul" from the "Meditations On Divine Names" anthology was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I also recently had three poems, (two inspired by Sylvia Plath), included in the Men In The Company Of Women: A Provocative Men's Anthology of Praise & Persuasion by Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House, and my poem, "Cleveland" in the first edition of Lummox Magazine.
Los Angeles is a great influence on my work. The "industry" and the people it produces as well as those who come from all corners of the globe to be in it are of endless interest to me. In this town, like no other, people, often kids, risk their lives to follow their golden dreams. Some end-up selling their bodies on Hollywood Boulevard, others end-up in dead end intern jobs while the lucky ones just turn around and head home. So many folks end-up here because things haven't gone well elsewhere or they want to resurrect themselves that it is hard to know who your friends are. I so desperately wanted to be a movie star when I got here, and I still do, but now I realize that there is more to being famous than fame. There is handling the fame and, most importantly, knowing who loves you for who you are and who just wants something from you.
JW: Very well said. You are a very giving person: you lend yourself to total strangers on the page, and you lend your voice to the NoHo Neighborhood Council, (NC), on behalf of your community. Your role within the NC has been more and more active. Can you tell me more about this civic courtship?
RVL: With my civic courtship, I mainly hope to give back as I have been given. I think we should all at one time or another try public stewardship; for a short stint anyway. I hope to inspire change for the better, especially among young people. They need people who can show them how to lead, not to talk themselves out of the responsibility society has placed on their shoulders. I want to lead by example and also by strength of character and tongue. People in public service have the responsibility to lead when times are difficult as they are now and to brighten the outlook for others, to have a positive attitude. My father, once a young, raw-boned, hungry politician who never got the chance to live up to his talents, used to tell me "politics is an art form not a corrupt joke."
JW: Thank you for sharing that piece of wisdom from your father. I do understand that he, and your grandfather, had known politics well, and suffered first hand in the fight for their freedoms against the Hitler Regime. While your grandfather was not able to survive the controls of the Nazis, your mother and father were successful in pursuing freedom. Can you tell me what it has meant to your life to come from such a legacy?
RVL: My father, Radomir Vaclav Luza, had a great and powerful influence on me for better or worse. He was in no way an easy man to live with, but his idealism and wonderful sense of humor made-up for most of his faults. His experiences in the Czech Underground (Resistance) during the Second World War do not haunt me, but make me realize that he fought for something which I now should follow-through on given that I live in a free country without shackles, cuffs or cages for most of its citizens. My father's courage helped get me through the most difficult times in my life because I understood down deep that if he could make it through so could I. The modesty and bravery displayed by his generation is mind-boggling and keeps me warm at night when I think of how it saved this world.
In all the activity surrounding my father, the person most forgotten is my mother. She is the strongest person I have ever met. If it wasn't for her there would be no him. There would probably be no us! (father, mother, sister and I).
I've probably learned more from my mother than anyone else. I learned how to deal with pain, how to be wonderfully, incredibly, deeply creative and how to accept death with great grace, aplomb and bravery.
The greatest tragedy in my life is that my mother, Libuse Podhraska Luzova, never became the great actress she was destined to be. She studied at the Czech National Dramatic Conservatory until Adolf Hitler closed down the school in 1943. She didn't act again until she was 70 and lived outside Philadelphia. Two years later she died of ovarian cancer. Hers was a very difficult life that I think maybe only another woman would understand: supporting a powerful husband while not losing your own identity. To that end, I shall always remember my dear, sweet, loving, dedicated mother as the greatest influence on my life.
---North Hollywood, CA, USA---
Above photo: Radomir seated with Mary Anneeta Mann and Sharon Rizk
For more Radomir online, please visit:
Enjoy the Poetry of Radomir Vojtech Luza
The tears dripping down
The dark red robe
Like lost integers
The one you got at Sears
In Boulder, Colorado
In the Summer of 1975
I was 11
You caressing my face
Like an eel in fresh water
An orphan in blue jeans
The licorice eyes
Portals to my dreams
The classically-trained Czech actress
Replacing Creone with kids
And casket with hummingbird
Stage and sisters
Like Jesus did the disciples
Czechoslovakia you mother of marrow
Dripping in sweet salt
Like a forgotten warrior
Your cross mother
The halo above your head
The white light beneath it
by Radomir Vojtech Luza (c)2013