cover image I Do Everything I'm Told

I Do Everything I'm Told

Megan Fernandes. Tin House, $16.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-953534-88-0

The vibrant third collection from Fernandes (Good Boys) is “for the restless,” the dedication notes before embarking on a journey across four sections rich with cities (Brooklyn, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Palermo, Paris, Philadelphia, and Shanghai), as well as characters, strangers, and complex feelings. The opening poem boldly declares, “Sometimes, I wonder if I would know a beautiful thing/ if I saw it.” Fernandes’s voice is immediate and urging, full of a kind of lighthearted sagacity: “If you haven’t taken the Amtrak in Florida, you haven’t lived.... To want the same things as you age is not always a failure of growth. A good city will not parent you. Every poet has a love affair with a bridge” (“Letter to a Young Poet”). In “How to Have Sex in Your Thirties (Or Forties),” she advises, “Only way is to fuck/ like you’re stalling// the body’s departure/ from doing// what bodies will do:/ end. Call it back// from its route/ to extinction.” The poet’s blend of irreverence, pathos, and humor works brilliantly in these pages full of winning allusions to Dostoyevsky, Rimbaud, Rilke, Jimmy Stuart, the cosmos, and K-pop. These candid and charismatic poems are full of life, existential questions, and unexpected turns of phrase. (June)