Latasha Diggs is a writer you have to experience, not read. Twerk isn’t a book to toss into the back seat of your car “for later” or a read-a-poem-here-and-there collection. With each verse, she sparks your curiosity and lures you deeper and deeper with her unique craft.
In her poem “metromultilingopollonegrocucarachasblahblahblah,” the words scattered across the page remind me of people waiting in line for the subway where you scan your card or put change in the machine to pass through the gate. It’s a busy page, with the words rushing around trying to find their mark. Yet they hit it perfectly; and it really provokes questions about how much we progress and achieve from all our rushing around. And that’s just the meaning I got from how Diggs chose to format her words on the page and the title; here’s a snippet of the poem itself:
the train is castrated by humdrum
is the aroma of piss and junkies
hoarse covers of lean on me
stand by me lean on me
there’s a reflection of water bugs’ wings
off Snapple bottles rolling back & forth
“gamin’ gabby” is dedicated to Syraniqua D’Voidoffunk and is a four-page poem packed with great lines, so roll up your sleeves and dig in:
trust your fields of prayers won’t summon this earth,
where mountains crash beneath an ocean’s thrust.
lonely words burn still days; you mime breech birth.
you flee before the dawn makes jest to trust.
what good are rainbows whispering surprise,
or waterfalls that dine with a tongues’s dreams?
this smile falls mute: all that’s left are toys and lies.
What is especially interesting about this poem is the poet’s view of religion. Describing the basic ritual of prayer as filling “fields” and being “lonely words” contrasts with her strong description of the earth’s natural formations (the mountains and ocean). She poses questions. To the reader? To herself? Wondering if the promise of something better after all this prayer and belief and hope is going to make good on itself. Reading on, she does answer the question, and each reader will interpret the answer as their own beliefs meet Diggs’ words.
Formatted like a play, “blind date” sucks you in straight from the beginning text: “FADE IN: / INT./EXT. Eddie Van Halen rock riff in background—DAY.” There are three main characters in this page and a half poem, half brilliantly crafted mini-play; though the Host is a mediator to push the plot.
We see PAUL GARCIA (30s)
sassy southern belle, open-minded pet photographer
likes men who claim sincere.
We see MACK ATTACK (40s)
divorced, fun-lovin’ wino, mid-life cruiser:
“goes for girls with a but.”
Parts of the poem read like a personal ad which gives the characters depth and history without the author having to launch into a detailed past. She nails language with concise, crisp words. Each is selected carefully and is essential to the success of her poetry. Her writing is clever and witty; it transports you into an entirely different mini-universe with each poem. The only escape is the final installment, and the hope for more from Latasha Diggs very quickly as she is a rare find.