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Arts and Entertainment

There's Poetry at 7+FIG

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Who knew that for nearly a decade, newly appointed Poet Laureate Charles Simic’s work has been on display in the unlikeliest of places in Downtown Los Angeles?

At 7+FIG to be more precise.

Yep. You read that right. On the plaza above the bustling food court and the retail stores stands “Portals to Poetry” (1989), a collaborative effort between Simic and artist George Herms. The piece is one of eight works commissioned for a “Poet’s Walk” during the building of Citicorp Plaza. (The Community Redevelopment Agency required developers to allocate one percent of construction costs to public art.)

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The Simic-Herms piece is a 12-foot-sculpture of words, steel, bronze and found objects, with a globe-like object perched on top. Writes Kathy Lucoff-Godin, who was hired as an art consultant for the entire plaza in the mid-80s, in an e-mail, “George Herms was inspired by the building's revolving doors and Charles Simic saw a few small bronze signage plaques…and thought poetry would be more interesting than the messages those plaques presented. For that reason, George chose to present Charles' poetry on bronze plaques which are part of the sculpture.”

Simic’s poems can be read individually and in no particular order. But the piece can also be read as one longer work, beginning with this following verse:

Step up to the door
Softly, softly
As if approaching
A house of cards.

So the next time you're shopping at Ann Taylor or munching away at CPK at 7+FIG, remember that the new Poet Laureate's work is just an escalator ride away.