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Erika Meitner. BOA (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-938160-46-2

Meitner, National Poetry Series Winner for Ideal Cities, delivers a collection that bursts with American abundance while simultaneously describing its decline. With rich language and an eye for the texture of common objects, Meitner’s poems take shape from “charcoal detritus,” “gnawed Bic pen caps,” and “envelopes/ whose lips sealed shut from humidity.” The poems vary in size and scope, moving from a catalogue of bizarre, terrifying events like the woman in a Walmart parking lot who “tried to sell six/ Bengal tiger cubs to a group of Mexican day laborers,” to broken recollections of Meitner’s late grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. The collection centers around poems Meitner wrote after a commissioned trip to Detroit for Virginia Quarterly Review; inspired by urban exploration and what John Patrick Leary defined as “ruin porn” in his article “Detroitism.” But Meitner has a stake in personal exploration that brings intimacy and despair to these poems, which makes them more significant than the simple observations of an outsider ogling or exoticizing poverty and decay. She turns these scenes inward, transforming them into a reflection of her own body, a “terra nullius” or a “water-damaged waiting room.” As Meitner puts it, “I am the territory no one will inhabit. The borderlands of motherhood and not again.” (Sept.)