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Robert Lundquist: After Mozart (Heroin On 5th Street)

Friday July 5, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Housmans and New River Press are extremely proud to present the London launch of Robert Lundquist’s After Mozart (Heroin On 5th Street) – a collection comprising of five decades of work, previously only available in magazine archives, anthologies, and out-of-print chapbooks.  A lost genius, come and see Lundquist give a very rare London performance.


Robert Lundquist was one of the rising stars of the Santa Cruz renaissance. By the early 1970s he was published in the Paris Review, anthologized in Raymond Carver’s magazine Quarry West, and listed in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘Best 100 American Poets’. This is Lundquist’s first major work. Discover a lost genius in these pages.

These poems were written in bursts over five decades. From 1969 to 1973, from 1980 to 1985, and from 2014 to 2018. Lundquist has an extraordinarily sensitive voice deeply engaged with the works of García Lorca, César Vallejo, Paul Celan, James Wight, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery. He addresses themes of love, loss, alcoholism, and emotional pain. He meditates on death, romance, and beauty with wild formal experiments and a visceral, surreal vision that is all his own.

Central to his poetry is the changing spirit of Downtown L.A. The poet was raised and has lived his entire life there. His grandmother was a waitress in Union Station and his father an undercover policeman. Some darker chapters are inspired by a stint living next to skid row. The neighbourhoods of DTLA – the automobiles, diners, bars, wildlife, and characters they contain – are evoked here with a noir melancholy and hallucinatory brilliance.



As a poet, Lundquist finds an organising myth in water. Water manifests itself as the giver of life, the bringer of death and the keeper of time, never taking on just one role and often embodying all three at once. It is a pretty formal move on his part, considering the experimentation and autonomy of form that otherwise characterise his work. Also, it is a strikingly consistent vision, given the five decades behind these poems.

Nevertheless, it is the many faces and shapes of water that inform his poems: sea water, shower water and tides; water’s bodily derivatives, tears and sweat and saliva and blood; its darker derivatives, waters that drown you, alcohol or heroin liquefying in a spoon; fermented or sugared water like Jack Daniel’s and Coca Cola. Lundquist is constantly seeking it, he looks for it everywhere and he sees it in everything.

The ancient practice of looking for a source of water in unlikely places is known as water divination, or water witching. The one who does it is called a dowser. And Lundquist is skilful dowser in these poems. He conducts his water witching among the stony buildings, the cracked pavements, the smoggy air of his neighbourhood, with patience and poetic steadiness.

Mersiha Bruncevic, 3AM Magazine


Tickets available here


Friday July 5, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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