Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night

Morgan Parker. Switchback (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-9861876-1-2
In this debut collection, 2013 winner of the Gatewood Prize from Switchback Books (selected by Eileen Myles), Parker plays with pop culture and personal history to craft poems of deep intelligence and quick wit. The poems inhabit a world of Real Housewives and Jay-Z, repurposed song lyrics and emptied drinks, where “Touching you on the shoulder/ is the most honest I’ve been/ all week.” These declarations have their own style of confident fun, as “Cinderella jams to Curtis Mayfield/ while scrubbing her/ own vomit from the bathroom/ tiles. On her hands and knees/ she’s all like,/ Damn why/ I gotta be the man of the house?” Parker displays mettle when, instead of writing a simple ode to the Moon, she spits bourbon at it: “you said you’d never disrupt space/ I said hell I own it.” It’s all the more exciting because that mettle reveals itself to be vulnerable and desirous, to be as set on understanding the world as on changing it. Like the best poets, Parker moves conversations forward—conversations about poetry, race, femininity. Readers will do themselves a favor by paying attention to this powerful debut. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/18/2015
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