My New Job

Catherine Wagner, Author . Fence $16 (114p) ISBN 978-1-934200-26-1

Wagner's third collection is conversational and filled with the kind of self-consciousness that acknowledges and draws the reader in: “I'm lying down with myself and kissing myself.... I thought, you all might enjoy that,/and the honester I get, the/creepier I'll be.” Beginning with a section of “Exercises,” Wagner (Macular Hole ) fixates on the body (“the joint will stay in place like a pearl in Vaseline”), and everyday pain: “Ah good the left shoulder hurts again/because the right shoulder was, and is the wrong one.” Branching into sexuality, there is fantasy and fixation, but also demystification (“well I expect you to go into the/ fucking human tunnel/ I'm going”) and mockery: “penis regis, penis immediate, penis/ tremendous, penis offend us.” Though she is an experimental writer and takes comfort in ambiguity (“it abstracted me, which was salvation”), these poems are not impenetrable. There is a fascination with the ordinary—“the apt not mine & the carpet's not my fault/ I love that”—that keeps the collection grounded and candid. Wagner is obsessed, in a good way, with the idea that “things mean, and I can't tell them not to.” (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
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