cover image The Happy End/All Welcome

The Happy End/All Welcome

Mónica de la Torre. Ugly Duckling, $17 trade paper (122p) ISBN 978-1-937027-73-5

In this delightful collection, poet and translator de la Torre (Public Domain) literarily extends artist Martin Kippenberger’s installation “The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s Amerika,” which she describes as “an assortment of numbered tables and office desks with pairs of mismatched chairs within a soccer field flanked by grandstands.” These formally inventive poems feature job notices, briefs, interview transcripts, and an office furniture inventory; readers will feel like they have stumbled into a job fair in some alternate universe. For example, a manager explains to a consultant that “We don’t really have a CEO. We have an Artistic Director. The office chairs surrounding us are ghosts of obsolete hierarchies. We keep them as reminders of what can go wrong.” De la Torre presents everything with a straight face, even a hilariously jargon-riddled posting for someone to give a presentation on the value of humor in the workplace. She warps and exaggerates the more ridiculous elements of professional etiquette, start-up culture, and corporate language in ways that encourage readers to look deeper into our work spaces to see how strange they really are. Perhaps, as de la Torre suggests in “Ad Copy,” “The mantra of The Happy End / All Welcome might be that slapstick speaks louder than words, the work imploding with what it implies.” (Apr.)