Review by Michael Lorenzo Porter
The Queen of Inglewood will surely find itself among the classics.
In her latest book of poetry, The Queen of Inglewood, Teka Lark, born in Los Angeles, the city that is frequently at the center of her laser-like focus, pokes fun at celebrity, the culture of pretending to be one, and those too desperate not to realize it’s time to leave their dream of glitz and glamour behind for the sake of normalcy. OR at least for the sake of consistency.
It is both a hypnotic blend of pop culture references that create an internal repartee with the reader. A slow rhythm that deals in realism and could only be the work of a master sharpening their tool over a slow burning fire that will surely bring reader’s of it to their knees.
The work in many ways draws parallels to the old chicken versus egg argument, except we aren’t pondering the inception of birds.
No, but words can help the mind take flight, and Lark proves herself to be amongst the most trusted pilots. And as we wander through pieces littered with wordplay that feels like swirling clouds on the tongue, resonate like Baldwin on the mind, and sting like Angelou with profundity, we are taken by the hand, and into a world that demands to be understood, to be reckoned with, defined and simultaneously, beautifully befuddled by. With great attention to truth, we dream fondly of some bygone era that may or may not have ever really existed. A version of L.A. that may have been, could exist in the future, and is so painfully, and obviously our perpetual present. And in doing so wonder if this great city ever really was great, and if it was, is it this same concrete monstrosity that gives the inhabitants of it its intangibles, or if it is the people that call this place home who inject the plastic crystal kingdom of Los Angeles with “It.” We can never know for sure, and that is where the wonder lies, in the wondering itself.
In terms of Teka herself, there do exist in this particular collection, reflection on themes that occur continuously and linearly throughout the artist’s work. Race,America, sex, alienation, and the fear of your worst fear being revealed, in public. L.A. is not just the location, but the source of all the elements pushing each piece forward.
With a measured beat that dances between, somber and melancholy, then weaves its way through hilarity while going full-steam ahead into heartbreak, each poem resembles a seed, a sort of definition for what poetry should not only sound like, but look like too.
Michael Lorenzo Porter grew up in and around Mid-City, Los Angeles, where he was raised by his mother and grandmother. His short stories have appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, Killing Fields Journal, and As.Iz Magazine. His short story “In My Head” was adapted for the screen in Germany as In Meinem Kopf.