5.0 1
by David Trinidad

"Plasticville is about the bliss of collecting, invention, and valuing the bits and pieces of popular detritus that constitute our lives. . . . Trinidad's warm intelligence makes poetry deft and true, dazzling and vulnerable, plastic and classic."—Molly Peacock


"Plasticville is about the bliss of collecting, invention, and valuing the bits and pieces of popular detritus that constitute our lives. . . . Trinidad's warm intelligence makes poetry deft and true, dazzling and vulnerable, plastic and classic."—Molly Peacock

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gathering a variety of traditional forms to "capture the soul of plastic," Trinidad's ninth collection manages to be at once utterly deadpan and astonishingly fine. Only via Trinidad will Chatty Cathy enter a villanelle, or Garbo's troll collection find itself unveiled in terza rima. Yet Trinidad's high/low playfulness thoroughly displays a smart, sharp art of arrangement--be the subject "Fat Liz / Bad Anne"; "Barbie, Ken, Midge, Allan, and Skipper"; Marilyn Monroe's psyche; or 116 lines cribbed from everyone from Matthew Arnold to JamesWright. The book masterfully renders the obsessive aspects of popular culture-collectibility, relentless camp, larger-than-life power dynamics-and the odd way they reflect the poignant complexities of making choices. This is plainly evident in the many shorter poems on the vicissitudes of collecting, like "Accessories" ("comb,/ brush and `real' mirror") or "Fortunes" ("You are just beginning to live"), and in "Essay with Movable Parts," a long poem that intersperses images of the poet's nascent doll collection with subversively intelligent snapshots from a range of cheesy classics, including Valley of the Dolls and episodes of Gilligan's Island. A second long poem, "Every Night, Byron" is written from the perspective of the poet's lover's dog, hilariously summoning up The Autobiogrpahy of Alice B. Toklas as if written by Basket: "David's packages in-/ terested me at first,/ until I realized they/ were full of the same/ old (as Ira calls it)/ `Barbie Crap' ./ David hemmed and/ hawed: `When/ words and people/ fail me, I have no/ choice but to take/ refuge in things.' Ira/ didn't buy it; neither/ did I." This is Trinidad's finest work to date, and readers will do well to take refuge in its shiny, humane splendors, even if doubting the value of disposable culture in and of itself. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Popular culture, as in Barbie doll collections, movie stars, TV shows, and Jacqueline Susann, marks the subject of many of these poems. Trinidad, one of the poets associated with the Beyond Baroque poetry scene in L.A., writes in many forms: couplets, villanelles, prose poems, and sonnets. Although his poems occasionally document serious themes--AIDS, homosexual love, the death of friends--mostly they skirt the surfaces of consumer items, as in the poem titled "Chatty Cathy Villanelle," which begins, "When you grow up, what will you do?/ Please come to my tea party./ I'm Chatty Cathy. Who are you?." Another poem, "Clue," focuses on the game of that same title, which was played by so many boomers during childhood. Here is an excerpt: "Scarlett's gardenia-scented love letters to poor/ Mr. Green! The detective surmised (at our/ last meeting) that Miss Scarlett murdered/ Green in a moment of passion." The long poem "Every Night, Byron!" is a tad more interesting than most of these, mainly because Trinidad uses the voice of his pet dog as narrator: "On the drive home,/ I discovered they'd/ chosen my name./ Byron. I later learned/ it has great sentimental significance. They/ had both lost close/ friends who'd/ loved the poems of/ George Gordon." For the most part, these poems lack music, imagery, and interesting topics; many consist of dull lists that go nowhere. Not recommended.--Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Jim Cory
David Trinidad's Plasticville doesn't so much recollect childhood as re-create its obsessive fascinations in metrical form…. The intricacy of these constructions is often startling.
Lambda Book Report

Product Details

Turtle Point Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Something's Got to Give

A sliver of light below the locked door
alerted Mrs. Murray (the live-in
hired by Monroe's psychiatrist, Doctor
Greenson) to the grim fact that Marilyn
was still awake. It was 3 a.m. She'd
yet to shake the case of sinusitis
that had forced her—though she wished to proceed
with the film under way at Fox—to miss
a week of principal photography.
Twice she'd dragged herself to the lot, only
to faint beneath the blazing lights. Now she
lay between satin sheets—restless, lonely
and drenched with sweat. She reached for the phone. Her
insomnia was her nightly terror.

Insomnia was her nightly terror
so she gulped "bedtime cocktails": Nembutal
dissolved in champagne. Often this mixture
failed to knock her out and it would be followed
by handfuls of pills. She was always
late; sometimes she arrived on the soundstage
too puffy for close-ups. "She's drugged and dazed,"
George Cukor told the press. "It's an outrage."
The director had come to hate the star
when they made Let's Make Love. They had finished
only a few scenes for the new picture
and were nine days behind schedule. Against
his protests, Marilyn walked off the set
and flew to New York in a private jet.

She flew to New York in a private jet
with her soon-to-be-famous "Tinseltown
dress," which she had paid Jean Louis, her pet
designer, twelve grand to create. The gown
was made of"silk soufflé," the lightest and
sheerest fabric in the world, and covered
with more than six thousand shimmering hand-sewn
beads. Her scarf hid her sizzling new hair
color—a tint Vogue would dub "pillow slip
white." Stark naked, she'd be stitched into her
dress the following night. She'd slither up
to the microphone, squirm out of her fur
wrap, and breathlessly sing "Happy Birthday"
to her top secret lover, JFK.

Her top secret affair with JFK
ended abruptly after the gala
at Madison Square Garden. Without saying
why, Jack just dropped her. Monroe caught a
plane back to L.A., where she sequestered
herself in her bedroom, guzzling more barbiturate-spiked
bubbly. She recovered
by staging a stunt that no other star
would have dared. She made sure photographers
were on hand for her sexy "skinny-dip"
sequence. As she splashed in the water, their
Nikons flashed. Then, "by accident," she slipped
off her flesh-toned mesh bikini. Bedlam
broke loose when, nude, she continued to swim.

As photos of Marilyn's "midnight swim"
bumped Liz's face off countless magazine
covers, Bobby delivered a solemn
message from "the Prez": "It's over between
us. Stop calling the White House." Then he wooed
her right into bed. Later the actress
confided to friends that both brothers screwed
like adolescents—"in and out in less
than a minute." Meanwhile, the film progressed
by fits. After a strained birthday party,
she left the set for the last time. Distressed
by what Cukor described as a "zombie-like
performance" and "deranged behavior,"
the studio decided to fire her.

When Fox officially dismissed her, her
staunch co-star stood firm: "NO MM, NO DEAN
MARTIN," read the Herald Examiner's
banner headline. Drunk on wine, Monroe leaned
against the balcony of Peter and
Pat Lawford's beachfront mansion, dispiritedly
toasting the blizzard of white sand
stirred up by Bobby's chopper. Their visit
had gone badly. Unlike Jack, he had talked
marriage; he'd lied to her, then tried to cut
her loose. As she rambled, Lawford uncorked
a fresh bottle. She'd been passed like a slut
from one to the other, so now she planned
to blow the lid off the Kennedy clan.

Alarmed, Lawford called the Kennedy clan
and warned them of Marilyn's threat. From her
bedroom window, she watched a repair van
parked on the street. Convinced the Secret Service
had bugged her line (she heard clicks every
time she talked), she'd often lug a purseful
of coins to a phone booth, her diary
(loaded with proof of her political
trysts) tucked under her arm. This document
disappeared after her alleged OD.
According to Mrs. Murray, who sent
for the ambulance, she felt uneasy
when she noticed, in the dark corridor,
a sliver of light below the locked door.

Ancient History

       Hedy Lamarr snips Victor Mature's hair while he sleeps,
       but he regains his strength in time to heave the pillars
       apart. George Sanders, an urbane leader of Philistines,
       raises his glass with rueful approval as the temple collapses
       about him.

       Condemned to wander the Mediterranean after the fall of
       Troy, Kirk Douglas is bewitched by Silvana Mangano,
       while his crew are transformed into swine.

       Charlton Heston turns his staff into a snake, refuses
       Anne Baxter's advances, frees the Jews from Pharaoh Yul
       Brynner, majestically leads the Exodus and parts the
       Red Sea, and witnesses a rather jet-propelled inscription
       of the Ten Commandments.

       Gina Lollobrigida smoulders and heaves in a series of
       plunging gowns, drives a chariot with abandon, dances in
       a curious balletic orgy, and seduces Solomon (Yul
       Brynner) for political purposes.

Charlton Heston wins a chariot race and an Academy

       Kirk Douglas excels in gladiatorial school, falls in love
       with Jean Simmons, and rebels after a private games
       staged for Roman general Laurence Olivier. Olivier
       makes a casual (but unmissable) come-on to slave-boy
       Tony Curtis.

       Stewart Granger rescues the Hebrews from the city of
       Sodom, whose depravity consists largely of dancing girls,
       sprawled bodies sleeping off orgies, and Stanley Baker
       chasing Lot's daughter (Rossana Podesta) into the tall
       grass. When fire and brimstone are about to descend on
       her palace, wicked queen Anouk Aimée is called upon to
       deliver the memorable line: "It's just a summer storm.
       Nothing to worry about." The city is then overwhelmed
       in splendid ruin, Granger and Co. escaping to high
       ground, all except Pier Angeli, who looks back and is
       turned into a pillar of salt.

       Elizabeth Taylor enters Rome enthroned on an enormous
       Sphinxmobile hauled by sweating musclemen. After
       Rex's assassination and Dick's suicide, Liz outwits
       Roddy McDowall by sticking her hand in a basket of figs.

       Christopher Plummer shows tyrannical tendencies which
       alarm the dead Emperor's protégé, Stephen Boyd (his
       hair dyed blond and marcelled), who is in love with
       Plummer's sister, Sophia Loren, whom Plummer marries
       off to Omar Sharif. Confusion ensues: the talk is endless,
       and there are ambushes, troop decimations, high-speed
       chariot crashes, and a ridiculous spear-duel between
       Boyd and Plummer (in the Forum, of all places), which
       ends with Plummer dead and Boyd nobly refusing the
       imperial crown. To Dimitri Tiomkin's pensive cello,
       Sophia prays to Vesta in a fabulous fur-trimmed cape.

       An all-star cast populates the Holy Land: Max von
       Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Charlton Heston, David
       McCallum, Roddy McDowall, Sidney Poitier, Carroll
       Baker, Pat Boone, Telly Savalas, Angela Lansbury,
       Martin Landau, José Ferrer, Claude Rains, Donald
       Pleasance, Van Heflin, Ed Wynn. Sal Mineo is healed
       by Christ, as is Shelley Winters, who crieth: "I am cured!
       I am cured!" John Wayne, the centurion managing the
       Crucifixion, utters: "I believe this truly was the Son of

       Clutching his fig leaf, Michael Parks is expelled from
       Paradise; Richard Harris kills his brother, Franco Nero,
       in an Irish frenzy; John Huston builds a massive Ark and
       potters among pairs of elephants, hippos, penguins, polar
       bears, and kangaroos; Stephen Boyd (wearing heavy eye
       shadow) climbs an impressive Tower of Babel and has
       his language confounded; God talks to patriarch George
       C. Scott.

Raquel Welch, clad in a bikini of wild-beast skins, is
carried off by a squawking pterodactyl.


for Beauregard Houston-Montgomery

Vinyl fashion doll
comes with swimsuit, pearl earrings,
sunglasses and shoes.

* * *

Pastel slip, panties
and strapless bra come with comb,
brush and "real" mirror.

* * *

Baby dolls come with
"Dear Diary," brass alarm
clock and wax apple.

(Note: Ken's pajamas
come with same clock, glass of milk
and wax sugar bun.)

* * *

Sheer negligee comes
with pink pompon scuffs and stuffed
dog for Barbie's bed.

* * *

Robe comes with shower
cap, soap, "Hers" towel, powder
puff and box of talc.

(Note: Ken's robe comes with
white briefs, "His" towel, sponge and
electric razor.)

* * *

Sunback dress comes with
chef's hat, apron, four utensils
and potholder.

* * *

Blue jumper comes with
black plastic serving tray and
two soft drinks and straws.

(Note: straws are extremely
difficult for Barbie
collectors to find.)

* * *

Turtleneck and skirt
come with scissors, needles, yarns
and "How to Knit" book.

* * *

Cotton dress comes with
cartwheel hat, necklace, telephone
and fruit-filled tote.

* * *

Nurse set comes with spectacles,
hot water bottle,
cough syrup and spoon.

(Note: "Dr. Ken" comes
with surgeon's mask, medical
bag and stethoscope.)

* * *

Checked shirt and jeans come
with wedgies, picnic basket,
fish and bamboo pole.

* * *

Brocade dress and coat
come with corduroy clutch, fur
hat, gloves and hankie.

* * *

Pink satin formal
comes with mink stole, pearl choker
and clear glittered pumps.

* * *

Leotard, tutu
and tights come with pink shoe bag
for ballet slippers.

* * *

Waltz-length party dress
comes with petticoat, picture
hat and sequined purse.

* * *

Sleek nightclub gown comes
with black gloves, bead necklace, microphone
and pink scarf.

* * *

Wedding dress comes with
veil, graduated pearls, blue
garter and bouquet.

(Note: ring, on tiny
satin pillow, comes only
with deluxe Wedding

Party Gift Set, which
includes Barbie in "Bride's Dream,"
Ken in "Tuxedo,"

Midge in "Orange Blossom"
and Skipper in "Flower
Girl." Mint-in-box set

is scarce and considered
quite a gold mine on the
collector's market.)

Meet the Author

David Trinidad teaches at Columbia College, Chicago. He has taught at Rutgers, Princeton and Antioch (L.A.). His previous poetry collection, Plasticville, was published by Turtle Point Press in 2000. That book was shortlisted for the Lenore Marshall Prize of The Academy of American Poets. With Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton he edited Saints of Hysteria.

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Plasticville 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OUT: 'Trinidad--whose widely anthologized poems have, for two decades, studded the literary world like big, shiny rhinestones--is a¿genius of a poet¿Trinidad uses the [Barbie] doll the way Emily Dickinson used death--as a constant presence against which all else is defined.' VANITY FAIR: '¿pop culture and traditional poetic form meld in David Trinidad¿s sensational Plasticville.' FLAUNT: 'Balancing odes to Barbie and homages to Jackie Susann novels with tributes to Liz Taylor, Sylvia Plath, Chatty Cathy, and the game of Clue, David Trinidad¿s Plasticville is a high-wire act without a net, and Trinidad negotiates it as effortlessly as Phillip Petit crossing a backyard swing-set.' BOMB: 'Plasticville is part diary, part TV Guide, part history of the world according to B-movie epics, part excursion into the attic of ones formative years (and thus the idiosyncrasy of sexual identity). Charles Baudelaire wrote, `The overriding desire of most children is to get at and see the souls of their toys.¿ Perhaps this is so because some kids look at their dolls and long to trade places. Plasticville is infused with the spirit of a boy who wanted to become Pinocchio, not the other way around.' LAMBDA BOOK REPORT: 'In Plasticville the poet replaces one set of obsessions--those of a kid behind the locked door of his room--with another--those of a poet measuring, cutting, and pasting imagery and information into language contraptions with all the smooth, seductive sleekness of the promises pop culture makes.'