Venice poet laureate Philomene Long, who had ties to the original Venice Beat poetry scene and counterculture, died Tuesday, August 21st.
She was 67 years old.
In addition to being an active poet on the Venice scene for decades, Long was the lover and muse of Beat Generation writer Stuart Perkoff up until his death in 1974, and later was married to the late Venice Beat poet John Thomas.
“This is a huge loss for Venice and to poetry,” says Fred Dewey, director of Beyond Baroque, Venice’s nonprofit literary arts center, where Long had a history of doing readings and was actively involved.
“She was a fierce partisan for poetry and for those who she was close to. She was a dear friend to Beyond Baroque and to the historical subculture of Venice,” Dewey said.
Long had lived in San Diego, New York City and later wound up in Venice in the 1960s, where she lived until her death.
She joined a convent in the late 1950s, but later left and migrated to Venice.
Long and Thomas were said to have practiced a lifestyle of beatitude and “poverty as a state of grace” based on traditions of ancient Zen recluse poets.
“The Venice Beats upheld the dream of salvation through creativity, wrote poems for the act of writing itself, had no mind for publishing,” Long once observed in an interview.
She had numerous chapbooks of poetry published by small publishers, including Queen of Bohemia, one of her better-known works, according to Dewey.
Additionally, a key collection of her works was published in the anthology The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.
Chapbooks she co-wrote with the late John Thomas include Ghosts of Venice West and The Book of Sleep. Long’s work is also preserved on the Poetry Wall on the Venice Beach boardwalk.
“She was passionate and generous, sometimes contradictory and mercurial,” says Dewey. “She was completely dedicated to keeping the idea of a real and true Bohemia alive.”
Long is survived by her sister, Pegarty Long, and two children, Patrick Moore and Maureen Luna-Long.
A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, August 31st, at St. Monica Catholic Church, 725 California Ave., Santa Monica.
Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 Slauson Ave., Culver City.
Beyond Baroque plans to host a formal memorial and tribute to Long in the fall.