Useful Junk (American Poets Continuum #191) (Paperback)
A master of documentary poetry, Erika Meitner takes up the question of desire and intimacy in her latest collection of poems.In her previous five collections of poetry, Erika Meitner has established herself as one of America's most incisive observers, cherished for her remarkable ability to temper catastrophe with tenderness. In her newest collection Useful Junk, Meitner considers what it means to be a sexual being in a world that sees women as invisible--as mothers, customers, passengers, worshippers, wives. These poems render our changing bodies as real and alive, shaped by the sense memories of long-lost lovers and the still thrilling touch of a spouse after years of parenthood, affirming that we are made of every intimate moment we have ever had. Letter poems to a younger poet interspersed throughout the collection question desire itself and how new technologies--Uber, sexting, Instagram--are reframing self-image and shifting the ratios of risk and reward in erotic encounters.With dauntless vulnerability, Meitner travels a world of strip malls, supermarkets, and subway platforms, remaining porous and open to the world, always returning to the intimacies rooted deep within the self as a shout against the dying earth. Boldly affirming that pleasure is a vital form of knowledge, Useful Junk reminds us that our selves are made real and beautiful by our embodied experiences and that our desire is what keeps us alive.
Erika Meitner is the author of six books of poems, including Useful Junk (BOA, 2022); Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA, 2018), which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Copia (BOA, 2014); and Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner. Meitner's poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in publications including Best American Poetry, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Poetry, and The Believer. Other honors include fellowships from MacDowell, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Bethany Arts Community, and Blue Mountain Center. She was also the 2015 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast. Meitner lives in rural southwest Virginia and is currently a Professor of English at Virginia Tech.