David Herrle reviews L.A. Melange: the first year of poeticdiversity
produced by poeticdiversity
published by Sybaritic Press
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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
No wonder poeticdiversity's power overflowed into a
printed anthology: L.A. Melange -- the first year of poeticdiversity,
published by Sybaritic Press (www.sybpress.com).
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
So a collection of poetry must particularly impress to keep my
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
"But Davey," you say, "this is a matter of opinion."
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.
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'
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
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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