By Panos Douvos
On October 22, 2009, the West lost a great lyric poet. Steve Richmond’s work spoke raw truths while offering sharp inner awareness. He published ten books and also appeared in Kenyon Review, Wormwood and Partisan magazines.
Steve’s friends considered him a most important poet – an American Rimbaud – and that “He didn’t know how to be dull.” His series of poems, Gagaku, sprang from listening to Japanese Court Music that he was introduced to by a woman friend in UCLA’s Ethno-Musicology Department. They were considered among his best.
At UCLA, in 1964, Steve wrote his first poetry book, and with a boost from Kenyon Review, he left his law degree behind. Also while at UCLA he was asked by Jim Morrison to review his poems.
Steve arrived in the Venice area in the middle ’60s and in the early ’70s ran a bookstore/head shop at Rose Ave. and the Boardwalk. There he published a broad sheet, Earth Rose. Its most memorable front page was from a special “anti-war” edition. The entire front page simply read – FUCK HATE.
He became addicted to pain medication following surgery . . . An artist’s tough road began but he was a poet’s poet and prolific. Some philistines dissed him — the outsider, bear-baiting him for their own amusement – but as his good friend, Charles Bukowski, said, “Hell never stops, only pauses.”
Spinning Off Bukowski is a very special book by Steve that is not to be missed. It details his spirited history with his friend and colleague Bukowski. [Sun Dog Press copyright 1996. 22058 Cumberland Lane, Northville, MI. 48167.]
Steve had his share of the “barnacles of life,” but he cleaned up the last several years, and now, after many pit-stops he has exited all too quickly.
We honor his talent, sharp intellect and active search for truths. He will be missed as we look for others to fill his space . . . He said he liked my poem about him. . . I appreciated that.
A memorial for Steve is being planned for some time in 2010. Details will be announced as plans are formalized.
Categories: Obituary, Ocean Front Walk, Poetry, Venice
Just a note…
Richmond’s first bookstore was called “Earth Books & Gallery”, located in a small non-existent-today block on Ocean Park between 2nd and 3rd Streets. This block was demolished when Ocean Park Blvd. was widened the Fourth Street overpass created. It was at that location that the SMPD busted and closed down EarthBooks for Steve’s FUCK HATE window display– and Steve never reopened the space after that. Instead, months later, he then opened Earth Rose, reviving the old bookstore and adding a candle shop, renting space to Rick the sandalmaker and featuring local artists’ work on the walls. RIP, old poet, you will always be missed…