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 David Herrle reviews L.A. Melange: the first year of poeticdiversity


produced by poeticdiversity

published by Sybaritic Press


 $ 10.00 + shipping



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In a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles City Beat, Marie Lecrivain (executive editor of L.A.-based online zine poeticdiversity) defended the city's worthy community of serious publishers/editors: "Whatever the medium, we all have the same goal to promote L.A.'s rich and diverse literary history."  That ain't bulldung.  poeticdiversity is evidence.  Since November 2003, the site has lived up to its original promise "to provide a forum for all to be equally represented and to foster an appreciation for the incredible and constantly evolving community of LA poets" -- and (recently) prose writers.  As Lecrivain noted in her premiere issue welcome, "LA is an immigrant city, and by virtue of its geography, has many communities of art and poetry that would take many years, if not a lifetime to explore."  Think mix.  Think mingle.  Think mélange.  No wonder poeticdiversity's power overflowed into a printed anthology: L.A. Melange -- the first year of poeticdiversity, published by Sybaritic Press (


The editors of poeticdiversity produced an impressive best-of poetry collection (consisting of 25 pieces) that is consistently good.  I've little patience for poetry, I must admit, and I take short hits rather than indulgent drags. (How's that for gratuitous drug metaphor?)  So a collection of poetry must particularly impress to keep my attention.  Then again, poetry books are often best experienced periodically, as with religious sutras and proverbs.  In a single sitting or in hits and drags, L.A. Melange passes the David Herrle Poetry Attention Test.  No tinhorn poets here.  No stinkers (though some pieces, of course, are better than others).  "But Davey," you say, "this is a matter of opinion."  Quite so.  It is an opinion matter: MY opinion.  And as supreme reviewer, I sincerely congratulate the judges and writers for the enjoyable, well-crafted mélange they delivered.


Sybaritic Press did a splendid physical job on the book: sturdy binding, delightful paperback "feel," intoxicating new-pages smell, decent paper stock.  The editors wisely chose unobtrusive, consistent fonts (a feature that separates the greenhorns from the veterans), as well.  While I prefer less abstract cover design, Melange's front and back covers (thanks, in part, to Stosh Machek) are simply the same as the website background.  So I approve.  And Sybaritic Press' logo is a contorted foot and ankle in a high-heel shoe, which tickles my female-foot-fetish bone somethin' fierce.


As for the poems, some of my faves include "November Crescent" (highlight: "I wake to the wishbone of your back..."), "Lucky" (highlight: "...makes me want to hide/under 10,000 layers/makes me feel I was meant for burkas/& beatings..."), "Fig Tree/Hojas de higuera" (a side-by-side English/Spanish translation), "Love In The Time of Breakbeats" -- despite its length -- (highlight: "...when you needle drop your social science/I remember why it's called soul music..."), "Saying Nothing" (highlight: "Men/like me better/when I neither confirm/nor deny"), "Prayer" (a cool play on musical terms), and "Madonna and Child" (an odd, eerie yet effective piece).  There are a few lengthy pieces ("Amoeba," "Of Princesses and Peas," "Poetry Junkie," and "Ride") that are not without cleverness and craft, but I easily tire of long verse.  Substantial author biographies are provided in the last part of the book.


I've always thought that worthy literary sites deserve to extend their treasures into the hardcopy book/magazine world.  It's like making songs into music videos, spreading and manifesting the medium with/in other forms.  The poeticdiversity editors were wise and creative enough to produce L.A. Melange.  A second volume made up of subsequent selections is planned, thankfully.  Though I think a more inclusive anthology might be better, I consider the concept of art for L.A.'s sake -- or vice versa -- as a good thing.  So, by all means, I recommend the book.  It's like being the only sober person at a wild, strobe-lit party - and still really digging the vibe. 






- review by David Herrle 4/2005





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