Grudge Matches

If you live in the orbit of Los Angeles, you're going to be faced with an odd phenomenon: the familiar face from television or film deciding he or she is a poet. It's a mixed bag, at best. Viggo Mortensen? Pretty good, actually. Jewel? I'll grudgingly admit there were moments, although not many. Suzanne Somers? Dear God, no. The fact remains it's hard not to have a knee-jerk skepticism, a belief this is just some vapid pretty face looking for a cheap way to appear deep.

So what then of Amber Tamblyn, star of Joan of Arcadia and The Grudge 2? She's pretty damn good, actually. Raw? Yes. Still developing? Certainly. But there's an undeniable trajectory in her work, an instinctive sense of image and emotion that even a few more-developed writers lack. Her writing's consistently surprising: in "Word War," she writes, "Love stayed silent./Spoke only of knife holsters and leafless trees/Counted hairs on a bar of soap/charged them with treason." And in "Gene Diamonds": "My father gave/stole my mother a crystal doorknob/from a door at the hotel/they could never afford to stay in."

Tamblyn's a fine young poet by any standard. One worth following closely, as it's evident she has plenty more surprises to come.

Amber Tamblyn reads with Mindy Nettifee and Chris Tannahill at Gypsy Den Grand Central Caf, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 835-8840. Tues., 8 p.m. One-drink minimum; Tamblyn also reads at the Found Theatre, 599 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 433-3363. Thurs., April 5, 8 p.m. $10. Reservations recommended.


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