cover image Refusenik


Lynn Melnick. YesYes, $18 trade paper (116p) ISBN 978-1-936919-88-8

Unafraid to share deep vulnerabilities with detail and deadpan, Melnick (Landscape with Sex and Violence) brings energy and intelligence to her self-possessed third collection. "If you ask me why all my poems are the same," she writes, "I'll admit all my impulses are sexual and all my grudges are biblical." She confronts both her own trauma and that of her Jewish heritage: "I want to remember/ that we'll never know the murder weapon/ but we do know it, of course,/ dozens of metaphors deep." The title poem moves at breakneck speed over nearly 30 pages in sprawling stanzas that revolve around her relationship with "V," who "showed up/ on a plane from the Soviet Union" with his family as they struggled to build a new life in "the glorious excess of 1980's Los Angeles." In another poem, the speaker finds herself apologizing to a man who sexually assaulted her: "I'm sorry you had to leave the party and that your wallet got stolen and he said it's okay, though he avoided me after that and told our friend that he couldn't respect me because I'm not a serious enough person." Readers will find Melnick's voice a welcome presence that never shies away from the pain and beauty that life brings. (Mar.)