A Red Hen Press review: Laurel Ann Bogen writes poetry for those who think they don’t like poetry, review by Steve Kowit


Those as hunts treasure must go alone, at night, and when
​​​ they find it they have to leave a little of their blood behind
​​​ them. — Loren.

Alone I sniffed 
for buried treasure 
the tumble of night 
in your wandering eye 

I chose you 
for your swagger 
and cutlass tongue 
I did not mind 
the lash you left there

Tattoo that is your name 
more precious than gold doubloons. 
I scratch the letters on my arm. 
The ink and blood still mix. 

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Laurel Ann Bogen
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Named the “Nearly undisputed Empress of Southern California poetry,” Laurel Ann Bogen writes poetry for those who think they don’t like poetry. The accessible and relevant poems in Psychosis in the Produce Department—which can be both witty and intense—will make believers of us all.

Psychosis in the Produce Department: New and Selected Poems, 1975-2015 gathers the best work from Laurel Ann Bogen’s previous ten books as well as new and unpublished poetry. Ranging in themes as diverse as horrific beauty and exquisite madness, dysfunctional families, love and anti-love, life in Los Angeles and Hollywood, and growing up as a Baby Boomer, these poems offer sly, humorous, surreal—and most crucially, accessible—genre-busting work that can only be called Vintage Bogen.

Readers are also given the unique opportunity to experience the full power of Bogen’s critically acclaimed poetry performance through ten included QR codes that link to audio files of select poems in the collection.

“Laurel Ann Bogen’s poems are lethal and smoking. If she is often painfully conscious at what we do to each other in the name of love, her poems are also rambunctious insignias of hope and courage. Psychosis in the Produce Department is an exuberant mix of human passions, a collection of poems that are at once mad with voltage and utterly sane. . . .a great pleasure to read.”

–Steve Kowit

Laurel Ann Bogen is the author of 10 books of poetry and short fiction including Washing a Language, Fission, The Last Girl in the Land of the Butterflies, The Burning, Do Iguanas Dance, Under the Moonlight? and Rag Tag We Kiss. Her latest book, Psychosis in the Produce Department: New and Selected Poems 1975-2015 is published by Red Hen Press and includes QR codes that link to audio files of select poems in the collection. For more information, contact Red Hen Press.

From 1996 until 2002 she was literary curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she coordinated the Writers in Focus poetry series and co-authored a grant sponsored by Poets and Writers, linking the museum’s education department with Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center to create a writers-in-residence program. She has been an instructor of poetry and performance for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program since 1990 and received the Outstanding Instructor of the Year in Creative Writing in 2008. Selected “Best Female Poet/Performer” by the L.A. Weekly in their Best of L.A. issue she is well-known for her lively readings and is a founding member of the acclaimed poetry performance troupe, Nearly Fatal Women.

Bogen has read/performed in venues as diverse as Cornell University, The Savannah College of Art and Design, The Knitting Factory (NYC), The DA Center for the Arts, The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro-Rail), The Museum of Contemporary Art and LACE. The recipient of the Curtis Zahn Poetry Prize from the Pacificus Foundtion and two awards from the Academy of American Poets, her work has appeared in over 100 literary magazines and anthologies including The Misread City, California Poetry From The Gold Rush to the Present, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Stand-Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology, The Maverick Poets, Poetry Loves Poetry, Grand Passion, Gargoyle, Rattapallax, Pearl, Solo, Bakunin, Yellow Silk, Mississippi Mud, Jacaranda Review, Los Angeles Times and Chiron Review.

visit Laurel Ann’s website at

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