My Hollywood and Other Poems

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My Hollywood and Other Poems is a collection of lyric meditations on the experience of émigrés in Los Angeles. In forms ranging from ballades to villanelles to Onegin sonnets, the poems pursue the sublime in a tarnished landscape, seek continuity and mourn its loss in a town where change is the only constant. My Hollywood draws on the poet’s own life as a Jewish immigrant from the Soviet Union, honors the vanishing traces of the city’s past, and, in crisp and evocative translations, summons the voices of five Russian poets who spent their final years in LA, including the composer Vernon Duke.


Reviews

“Throughout My Hollywood, Dralyuk crafts polished lyric tableaux, enlivened by formal wit, wry anticlimaxes, delightfully mixed emotions, and exacting descriptive details that hint at the multiple stories percolating beneath.” — Meg Schoerke, The Hudson Review

“Throughout, the ache of exile reverberates against the irretrievability of the past, but there’s also a quality of lightness in the poems, stemming from a fascination of place and the delights of Dralyuk’s prosody.” — Heather Green, The Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books blog

“[Dralyuk’s] subjects are faded landmarks, artists one doesn’t expect to find in LA like Thomas Mann, Aldous Huxley, Arnold Schoenberg, or film stars of a bygone age. He writes with enthusiasm about diminished lives, and the result in this first collection of poems, My Hollywood, is a book of elegant realism, a worthy addition to the poetry of ‘Los Angeles.’” — David Mason, The Los Angeles Review

My Hollywood, Boris Dralyuk’s debut collection of poems, is so thematically coherent, so satisfying as an achieved gesture and mood, that it is easy to overlook just how multidimensional Dralyuk’s art is. […] The formal panache and ingenuity that make My Hollywood so pleasurable to read also serve to heighten its poignant blend of celebration and elegy.” — Rachel Hadas, Times Literary Supplement

“His Hollywood is a city haunted by eastern European émigrés who have somehow washed up on the West Coast, ‘Stravinsky at the Farmers Market’ or the silent film star Alla Nazimova, who gives her name to ‘The Garden of Allah’ hotel. Dralyuk has a flair for rhyme: “And now I watch another era fade,/ Cyrillic letters scraped from shuttered storefronts,/ tar-crusted bread, stale fish, stiff marmalade/ sit sulking on the shelves, unchosen orphans/ in what were once the bustling little shops/ of Russian Hollywood.’” — A. E. Stallings, Times Literary Supplement

“These [poems] are the souvenirs of an almost-vanished glamour, an ethnic, gritty, free-wheeling city, little fantasias encased in rhyme and meter.” — Jesse Nathan, McSweeney’s

“Dralyuk finds refuge in this broken nest. Here, then, is the ‘vigil’ he keeps—not to hold out for any promise of resolution or enlightenment, but to shore up fragments of a gaudy ruin: the Old Hollywood he celebrates. […] It is an act as generous as his impulse, throughout these poems, to spot the sweetness in decay—to find endurance in nostalgia for two lost cultures, now made inseparable through vision and craft.” — Sunil Iyengar, Literary Matters

“It is Dralyuk’s ability to subtly connect the experience of the émigré to the inevitably more universal theme of death—the ultimate answer to the question of residency, the ultimate emigration—that gives the book its most permeating and consolatory value.” — Dustin Condren, World Literature Today

“Dralyuk’s Hollywood is a throng of older Russian-speaking Jewish men playing chess on a park bench, of grocery stores where one can buy buckwheat and herring, of peeling buildings and forgettable surroundings.” — Jake Marmer, Tablet

My Hollywood is one of the strongest collections of poetry to come out in recent history. It is seamlessly evocative from front to back.” — Jane Greer, Angelus News

“The reader emerges from the irresistible world Dralyuk has conjured in My Hollywood as one might exit from the darkened cathedral of a movie theater, blinking into the alien light of day or lit streetlamps feeling enlarged by the film one has just experienced.” — Lisa Russ Spaar, On the Seawall

“Sophisticated, musical, and often humorous.” — Booklist


Endorsements

“There is that old concept of the ‘genius of a place,’ which, as it enters literature, makes an atmosphere all its own—impossible to forget. I keep thinking of this as I read My Hollywood and Other Poems, in which Boris Dralyuk, the brilliant translator of Isaac Babel’s Odessa Stories, now gives us Los Angeles: a theater of being, captured in beautifully crafted sonnets, pantoums, and hymns full of longing and character and verve. Anyone who has ever visited the Russian immigrant shops and restaurants of Los Angeles, or stopped in parks where old men play cards and grandmas watch kids while spreading gossip, will instantly recognize the music of memory in Dralyuk’s virtuoso performance. The wit and daring of his rhymes and phrasing remind me of that old master, Donald Justice, who dazzled us with the elegance of his forms. Dralyuk carries this high style into the 21st century, and I, for one, am thrilled to be in the presence of his marvelous verbal art. Pay attention, readers: a new maestro is in our midst.” — Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

“Generations of Americans have chased their dreams to Los Angeles only to awake to strangeness and disappointment. In My Hollywood Boris Dralyuk brilliantly describes those dreamers’ lives with the clear eye of an émigré who witnesses details that open up larger questions of life. Dralyuk is also a master of poetic craft whose use of meter and rhyme give his original work a classic flavor, and allow him to translate Russian poetry with skill, flare and authenticity that is rare. My Hollywood is a book to savor.” — A. M. Juster, author of Wonder & Wrath

“As a translator and anthologist, Boris Dralyuk has lovingly rescued neglected Russian poets, and he now achieves, in his own poems, a similar triumph with Los Angeles, recovering and preserving passages in its history that time and human indifference have obscured. My Hollywood features appearances by such cultural heavyweights as Thomas Mann, Laura and Aldous Huxley, and Arnold Schoenberg. But Dralyuk also treats us to tours of now vanished landmarks of L. A. like the Garden of Allah hotel and the Bargain Circus discount barn; and he chronicles the careers of some of the many entertaining misfits, including a ne’er-do-well uncle of Isaac Babel, who have passed through Southern California on their earthly pilgrimage. Dralyuk is as well a lively technician—a clever rhymer who is particularly deft at sonnets. Anyone interested in fine verse and Los Angeles will relish this book.” — Timothy Steele, author of Toward the Winter Solstice

My Hollywood and Other Poems works the shimmering depths and surfaces of a Russian presence in America’s film-set. Its poems cross the refracted ache of exile with the kind of detail that narrates lives as precisely and suggestively as an Edward Hopper painting. A beautifully evocative debut.” — Vona Groarke, author of Spindrift and Double Negative


Poems in Journals

“The Catch: On Translation,” Ploughshares 48, no. 1 (Spring 2022)

“Dictionary of Omissions” and “Days at the Races,” Raritan Quarterly 41, no. 3 (Winter 2022)

“The Passing of the Bungalows,” “Close to Home,” and “Ballade of Hank’s Bar,” Subtropics 32 (Winter/Spring 2022)

“Émigré Library” and “Calendars,” The Hudson Review 74, no. 4(Winter 2022)

“R. B. Kitaj’s ‘Los Angeles,’” “The Minor Masters,” and “Plants in Pots,” International Literary Quarterly (December 2021)

“Jonah,” Bad Lilies 5 (December 2021)

“Venice Beach: A Diptych,” “Stravinsky at the Farmers Market,” and “Exile’s Return (by Vladimir Korvin-Piotrovsky),” The Georgia Review (Summer 2021)

“Bargain Circus,” The Hopkins Review 14, no. 1 (Winter 2021)

“Uncredited,” The New York Review of Books (25 March 2021)

“Universal Horror,” First Things (October 2020)

“Late Style,” Light (Winter/Spring 2020)

“My Hollywood: A Triptych,” The New Criterion (March 2020)

“Absentee Ballet,” The Yale Review 105, no. 1 (January 2017)

“Babel at the Kibitz,” Jewish Quarterly 62, no. 2 (Summer 2015)