Tuesday, April 9, 2013


So in this series of posts on new poetry books I've been reading, and digging, mostly by old friends, the cool thing is that each poet has a different approach to what a poem can be. I think any reader daunted by some of the books I'm recommending this week, wouldn't be by others. Like Yvonne de la Vega's TOMORROW YVONNE, Poetry & Prose for Suicidal Egotists (Punk Hostage Press).

Yvonne is an L.A. poet, singer, musician, dancer, spoken word performer, and much more. This is a collection of pieces that she's been reading and performing around L.A. for decades, some newer than that, but a lot have been knocking live audiences out for a while. Including me.

I'll quote my own words that I wrote for her to use on the back of the book:

"Yvonne de la Vega is our steampunk poet laureate, mixing not only the classic and the contemporary in poetic tradition and personal expression but doing it in her uniquely original way. There is no one in the world of poetry quite like her, or the world of anything for that matter."

I hope Yvonne doesn't mind if I reveal that I first dug her as one of the "native girls" who rushed out to meet the plane on the TV show FANTASY ISLAND. Discovering her that way was like the first time I caught Rosie Perez dancing on IN LIVING COLOR. But Yvonne is also the woman who Herb Albert wanted to, and did, record when he heard her read one of her classic poems, "Flamenco Sketches."

She's a self taught performer poet in the classic tradition, and when she's cooking her poems are as much music as language. Many of her best known classic pieces, like "Everything Pink," are too long to quote here, but I'll give you a shorter one that conveys the power of her approach at its best:

In Being My Father's Daughter
                                 -for Daddy, Silvero Duro de la Vega RIP
               June 12, 1928 - May 8, 2007

Because laying on the bare hardwood floor
is too gentle and aesthetic and still
does not offer that masochistic solace, and
because crawling under the bed to weep is
only an instinctive feral urge,
it seems the next thing
that might do it,
that may finally satisfy and replace the urge
to cut my face with an exacto knife, would
be to
break something,
smash all the windows, burn my guitars,
topple the piano, club the TV to pieces,
slash my sofas like the D.E.A.
break all my dishes
...and etc.,
Still, playback of the sequence
"madness as medicine" only
proves that
out of every single object in my home
I can't find one single thing
that can present to me
the perfect punishment,
here and now needed
so badly...
Daddy & I were deemed "wild eccentrics".
Infamous, the both of us from L.A. to Manila.
We remembered being peacocks in a past life together
we never gave a shit about
what the Family thought.
la la la...
I could jump off the roof,
I won't die but it'll hurt.
I did not kill my father.
But someone else did.
Yet I am guilty,
after longing to be with him all
these lost but hopeful years.
Of not being at his side to kiss his mouth at his final sigh,
breathing in to catch and hold his fleeing ghost inside me,
for just one moment for the parting in this lifetime,
our spirits' last embrace
here and now. Instead,
I was fucked up, drunk and jacked up in Hollywood,
when I should have flown straight to Luzon days ago.
I was the worst daughter
he was a worse Father,
which is why I was his favorite, and why
every man
I've ever truly loved
is exactly
Almost Him.

[PS: I might add that Yvonne's prose Preface to the book is worth the price of admission alone, like an introduction to her voice, her life, her unique personality—seductive and engaging, impressive and effective. And the design of the book is pretty cool too. All in all worth grabbing.]


JenW said...

Damn! You got me hooked AGAIN Kid & running to grab a copy today- can't even wait for tomorrow. - a suicidal egotist/ midweek insomniac who once again Thanks you.

JIm said...
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AlamedaTom said...

"Of not being at his side to kiss his mouth at his final sigh,
breathing in to catch and hold his fleeing ghost inside me,
for just one moment for the parting in this lifetime,
our spirits' last embrace
here and now."

Got a little misty over that...

~ Willy

Jamie Rose said...

What a great poem. Wow.

Lally said...

Glad you dug it as much I I do, Jen, Willy, Jamie.

Lally said...
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Yvonne de la Vega said...

Thank you so much for the awesome words Lally. I often ask myself if I would be the poet I am today if I had not met you... ? much love to you and yours my lifelong friend and influence. ~yvonne

Lally said...

You're welcome Yvonne, and vice versa, only double.

tpw said...

Really powerful piece of writing.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

I agree with Yvonne, Michael and second her emotion - I am indebted to you for inspiring, encouraging and helping me through your work to find my own voice. Thank you.