Chris Rice Cooper

Chris Rice Cooper
Chris on July 28, 2017

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Los Angeles Poet & Photographer ALEXIS RHONE FANCHER: "Poetry Through The Lens"

Christal Cooper


Article 1,255 Words

Alexis Rhone Fancher:
Poetry Through The Lens!

       Photographer and poet Alexis Rhone Fancher recently wrapped up her exhibit, 30 Southern California Poets for the Poets Portrait Project, at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California last month. (https://www.dropbox.com/s/glfm24ca6e73j53/30%20Portraits%20of%20Poets-SD%20(480p).mov?dl=0)






 The Poets Portrait Project (PPP) began by happy accident in October of 2012.  Id just signed on as Poetry Editor of Cultural Weekly, and part of my job is to solicit outstanding poets for publication. I receive gorgeous poems, terrific author bios, and almost without exception, the most pitiful author photos imaginable. (http://www.culturalweekly.com/author/alexis/)


Youre a photographer, my publisher, Adam Leipzig told me. You should shoot them! If the poet was living in or visiting Southern California, I did. 



In addition to publishing them in Cultural Weekly, I regularly posted many of the portraits on Facebook, and the response was extraordinary. These photos took on a life of their own.


When Beyond Baroque Executive Director, Richard Modiano offered me a One-Woman Show to coincide with National Poetry Month, I didnt hesitate.




       The next phase of the project is to photograph over 150 additional poets from Los Angeles, which Fancher describes as a vibrant and beautiful city.


The Chicago-born girl has lived in Los Angeles since the age of two, when she had her first remembered experience with photography:  her father asked her to smile for his camera.
Four years later, at the age of six, she wrote her first creative piece:  a poem about a sad song she heard on the radio.



She inherited her voracious love of reading from her parents, who had a large and vertical library in their home, with the books going all the way to the ceiling.
My father turned me on to James Baldwin, Flannery OConnor, James Michener, and Harold Robbins with equal fervor.   My mother loved poetry:  Dickinson, Millay, Jeffers.  
     Nothing in their library was off limits.  The only rule was if you can reach it, you can read it.  I quickly learned that the racier books were higher up.  I commandeered the stepladder.



By the age of 10, Alexis realized she was meant to be a photographer when her father bought her a Nikon camera after seeing photographs she had taken during a family vacation to San Francisco.
My father was an avid, amateur photographer, both movies and stills.  He was a pharmacist by profession, a foreign film and music lover, and a damn good tennis player into his 70s.  He believed in me.  I still have that camera.


Her first love, though, has always been writing, which she did voraciously through the years while she earned a living in the advertising industry.
I worked professionally in advertising sales and design, and supplemented my income as a photographer for most of my life.
It wasnt until the summer of 2012, due to the urging of her friends, that she submitted her work for publication.  She sent her poems to Downer Magazine and Culture Weekly.


 The quirky and now defunct Downer Magazine, published her poem Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera for its October 2012 issue.
The following month, in November 2012, Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera was republished along with Subterranean Lovesick Clues in Cultural Weekly, which led to her present position as Poetry Editor for Cultural Weekly. 




The experience was pure serendipity.  The founding poetry editor at Cultural Weekly, the talented Wendy Rainey, needed to move on for a variety of reasons.  She knew of me and thought Id be perfect for the job.  It was Wendy who recommended me to publisher Adam Leipzig.  We met for lunch.  I came on board in November 2012. 



Soon publisher friends were requesting her photographs to illustrate their books and literary magazines.  Fancher submitted her photographs to Richard Vargas at The Mas Tequila Review and to the on-line magazine Witness, and both magazines used her photographs on their covers.  



In December of 2013, she gathered all of her published poems, and arranged them in a certain order that emphasized the desired poetic flow, and sent the manuscript out to two different publishers, and both publishers offered Fancher a book contract.
       In July of 2014 her first poetry collection, I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen was published by Sybaritic Press, located in Los Angeles. (http://www.sybpress.com) 



What makes I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen a rare book is threefold:  almost every poem in the book has been previously published by either print or on-line magazines; the book includes black and white photography by Fancher; and the poems are erotic poems. ((http://www.amazon.com/How-Lost-Virginity-Michael-Cohen/dp/1495123197/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415985271&sr=1-1&keywords=alexis+rhone+fancher)


       Poet Marie Lecrivain, author of From The Four-Chambered Heart:  In Tribute To Anais Nin, described I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen perfectly:  It is a gorgeous collection of erotic poems and black-and-white photos which chronicles her journey into the sensual world of sexual experience. Alexiss writing is sharp, insightful, beautifully composed, and will strike a chord with women and men of all ages. (http://www.marielecrivain.com) (http://www.amazon.com/Four-Chambered-Heart-tribute-Anais/dp/1467581364/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431551181&sr=1-2&keywords=Marie+Lecrivain)



       Many people confuse the definition of pornographic with erotic by assuming erotic poetry consists of the obscene and gratuitous, without redeeming social value.


       Webster defines erotic as devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire.  That works for me.  Im often told by editors who accept my work for publication, I hate erotica, but I love your work.  I aspire to writing literary erotica.  Sex is a battlefield.  A playground.  A blank canvas.  Ive never written anything I would consider porn, nor do I enjoy reading porn.  


       Alexis's career as a poet has taken off with great success:  shes been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and a Best-of-the-Net Award.
       In 2014 her poem Tonight We Will Bloom for One Night Only placed first in the 2014 Los Angeles Poet Society Summer Poetry Contest.


       In 2013, her poem White Flag placed first in the Love, Loss And Longing Poetry Contest. 
       Alexis has a strict writing regiment:  every morning she drinks her coffee, looks at her email, and then writes for a minimum of four hours per day.
       I retreat for as many hours as I possibly can each day to write.  I sit down in my Aeron chair and its almost Pavlovian:  the poem begins to fly. 



       And the poems continue to fly and the juices continue to flow; and Alexis has yet to experience writers block, which she insists she will never get.
Never had it.  Never will.  I always stop writing while I know the next line.  A trick Ray Bradbury taught me back in the day. (http://www.raybradbury.com) 



       The other hours of the day Alexis dedicates to her editing work and to her photography. She often collaborates with her husband, Jim (whom everyone calls Fancher). Alexis takes the images and Fancher, who has a background in the film industry, applies his technical expertise to the photographs, making them one of a kind. 


 Often, during a photo-shoot, Fancher will be the one to suggest the shot that goes on to be the money shot. He has impeccable taste and a great eye.  We work well together.  Complimentary.  Smooth.  Like silk.


The couple continuously collaborate on audio recordings and videos for her website (www.alexisrhonefancher.com). 



Their most recent collaborations are a centerfold for the latest edition of Fresh Linen. (http://fl-mag.com)


A 5-page spread in the latest issue of River Styx features my street photos of some of L.A.s most beautiful women. (http://www.riverstyx.org)


Alexis uses her Nikon D-810 with a 85mmm lens while in the studio; she shoots primarily with a Canon SX50 HS for street scenes;  a Lumix GH2 for club scenes; but she does much of her work in post, with iPad/iPhone apps like Snapseed.  



She can be reached via email alexis@lapoetrix.com






I'd Never Slept With A Mexican Before 


ON THE ROAD
I had a knife with me that day.
I don't know why.

We just started driving upstate.
When I asked where we were going
he said, "Coffee."

He was too short for me anyway.

In my dream there was poison in the coffee.
It tasted so sweet.  I didn't seem to mind.

IN THE DINER
There were miles between us,
a Sahara.

'It's okay to smoke," he said.
"As long as you're not a train."

When he reached for my hands
I saw tattooed saints on his wrists
where the long sleeves shortened.

He let go like he'd been burned.

Folded.  A barricade.  A moat.

I folded the knife in my purse
till he caught my eye.

"Keep 'em where I can see 'em."
I could live with that.

IN THE MOTEL
We danced in the open space
between the queen bed and the door.
He sweated through his button down,
a silver crucifix at his throat,
looked like Mark Anthony
in the motel marquee's light.

Free Cable.  Free Ice.  No Vacancy.

He kicked off his pants, turned out the light.
Fucked me with his shirt on.

IN THE MORNING
I surprised him in the shower,
saw his tattooed glory, sleeves,
the American eagle
full-winged across his chest,
"Semper Fi" emblazoned on a 
ribbon in its mouth.

I threw the knife out the window
once the car passed Santa Barbara.

"The road is the journey," he said,
the sin of regret in his eyes.   

"I'd Never Slept With a Mexican Before"  
Excerpt from How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen  
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher 



Photograph Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1
Alexis Rhone Fancher giving a poetry reaching.  
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 2
Beyond Baroque Advertisement for 30 Southern California Poets
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 3
Beyond Baroque
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law
Photo 4
Web logo photo for Cultural Weekly
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law
Photo 5
Adam Leipzig 
Copyright granted by Adam Leipzig. 
Photo 6
Image of Poet Michelle Bitting, part of the 20 Southern California Poets
Photographed by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

Photo 7
Richard Modiano
Copyright granted by Richard Modiano 

Photo 8
Sunset 6th Street In L.A.
Photographed by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Photo 9
Painting of a little girl writing
Attributed to Henriette Brown (1829-1901)
Public Domain

Photo 10
19th Century Painting of The Library 
Attributed to Harriet Backer
Public Domain

Photo 11
Alexis Rhone Fancher with her camera
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Photo 12
Alexis Rhone Fancher giving a poetry reading
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Photo 13
Self-portrait of Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Photo 14
Wendy Rainey
Copyright granted by Wendy Rainey 

Photo 15
Cover photo for the Mass Tequila Review
Photographed by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 16
Cover photo "Perfect Form" for Witness 
Photographed by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 17
Jacket cover of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen 
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law  
Photo 18
Web logo for the Symbaritic Press
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law
Photo 19
Alexis Rhone Fancher giving a poetry reading
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 21
Jacket cover of From The Four Chambered Heart
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law
Photo 22
Self Portrait of Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 23
Self portrait of Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 24
Jessica Wilson Cardenas and Alexis Rhone Fnacher, being awarded the Los Angeles Poet Society Summer Poetry Contest award
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 25
Alexis Rhone Fancher giving a poetry reading
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 26
Ray Bradbury in 1974
CCASA
Photo 27
Alexis Rhone Fancher and husband Jim
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 28
Alexis Rhone Fancher and husband Jim
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 30
Web logo for Fine Linen
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law
Photo 31
Cover of River Styx issue featuring the 5-page spread by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 32
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Copyright granted by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Photo 33
Web logo for the website of Alexis Rhone Fancher

Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law 

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