“They Make Their Exit, Arm in Arm”: Vernon Duke and LA’s LGBTQ History

Interesting and atmospheric. Loving your collection-My Hollywood. Struck by the word “drear” here and its connotations in early poetry. “Johnny Frenchman” too was intriguing as the title of a film from around 1947 about Cornwall and Brittany.

Boris Dralyuk

Malibu Pier area in the 1950s

It was a multifarious delight to see My Hollywood praised in The New York Review of Books, in a wonderful piece by Anahid Nersessian, a professor of English at UCLA, that paired the collection with Adam Kirsch’s own loose (in all but the metrical sense) LA memoir-in-verse, The Discarded Life. Nersessian’s reading is generous and her phrasing is lapidary; she doesn’t groan at my rhymes and detects in my poems an “air of upbeat sorrow,” as well as “an émigré mood, defined by the conviction that things could always be worse.” How true, that last bit. And it gave me special pleasure to see the critic connect this mood to the work of the composer Vernon Duke, né Dukelsky, whose Russophone Angeleno poems I’ve been translating for some time. Not only does Nersessian mention the two I included in the book, “Farmers…

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By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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