"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
"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
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 poignant translations, summons the voices of five Russian poets who spent their final years in LA, including the composer Vernon Duke.
"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.”—Times Literary Supplement
"Sophisticated, musical, and often humorous."—Booklist
“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.”—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."—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.'"
—The Los Angeles Review
“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.”—World Literature Today
"My Hollywood is a first-rate collection of precise, delightfully graceful poems, the poet as Fred Astaire tap-dancing up and down the lines."
"Dralyuk is 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
"My Hollywood is poignant and perfectly phrased, full of nostalgias and absences, home and exile, piercingly recognizable to anyone who loves the place and knows its failings. The inclusion of the other poets from the Russian diaspora provides a resonance of theme, but also highlights the unique charm of Dralyuk’s verse."
—Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black
"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
"Anyone interested in fine verse and Los Angeles will relish this book."
—Timothy Steele, author of Toward the Winter Solstice
Two poems from My Hollywood:
“The Garden of Allah”
"The Garden of Allah Hotel, playground of the movie stars during the 20s and 30s, will be torn down to make way for a new commercial and business center . . . The hotel originally was the home of Alla Nazimova, late stage and screen star."—Los Angeles Mirror-News, 1959
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. Hardly a soul now stops
to thumb the plums, frown at the penciled prices;
the neighborhood is lurching towards crisis,
all in slow motion. Rents climb out of reach
for émigrés . . . There’s nothing new in this.
Think of Nazimova and of her short-lived bliss
beside her pool—her private Black Sea beach . . .
She died a tenant in a bungalow
of a hotel razed sixty years ago.
No breakout leads—a prisoner of reruns
on local stations high up on the dial:
a stray recurring role, a guest appearance
on Perry Mason. Later, Rockford Files.
Her second act? Pure dullsville in Van Nuys.
Chablis with ice. A Chevy dealership
gone belly up. Her paunchy husband’s lies:
a broken marriage. Then a broken hip.
None of that matters, if you ever catch her
singing “How High the Moon”—silvery, misty—
on that one show . . . She isn’t any match for
the stainless Julie London or June Christy,
but through her gauzy voice, as through a sieve,
spare notes of heaven reach you from afar.
For those two minutes, she’ll make you believe:
Somewhere there’s music. It’s where you are.
Boris Dralyuk is the Editor in Chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Review of Books, The Hopkins Review, The New Criterion, The Yale Review, First Things, Subtropics, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. He is co-editor (with Robert Chandler and Irina Mashinski) of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry, editor of 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution and Ten Poems from Russia, and translator of Isaac Babel, Mikhail Zoshchenko, and other authors. He lives in Los Angeles. My Hollywood is his debut poetry collection.