- Series: Kathryn a. Morton Prize in Poetry
- Paperback: 88 pages
- Publisher: Sarabande Books; 1 edition (November 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1932511768
- ISBN-13: 978-1932511765
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl: Poems (Kathryn a. Morton Prize in Poetry) Paperback – November 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Lurid, dominated by teen antiheroes, with plenty of underage sex amid a 21st-century Southern gothic atmosphere, McGlynn's debut is at its best vivid, disturbing and fun. Despite hints and feints, it has no consistent narrative; instead, it offers scenes, asides, interior monologues, fragments and portrayals of dangerous playmates and sexual awakenings: death & sex tickle the same damn spot, McGlynn warns. One of her clearest and best poems of memory is called God, I Got Down There to Get Off: I'm flat on my belly, hand in my jeans—/ and how to say every penny has become the eye/ of a dead relative watching me? With her adults either inattentive or ill-intentioned, McGlynn's strongest pages remember how she looked up to adventurous peers: Erin with the Feathered Hair, for example, who unpeels my northern pretense,/ leaves me quivering in a glitter tube-top/ as she unlocks the liquor cabinet. Conscious of precursors in popular film, McGlynn may not always avoid cliché. Yet her experiences crackle with life, and her best lines know when to stop, when to set out sexy facts and when to reach for verbal ornament, distinguishing her work from anything merely confessional. (Nov.)
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Top customer reviews
For McGlynn, every innocuous object has an ominous counterpoint--the bed as operating table; a farmhouse for egg production as killing site; panties as childhood emblem and crime-scene evidence; exposure as photographic process and life-threatening condition. These poems, ravenous and ravishing, debone everything in sight, and what a sight it is--a rose hung on a hook like rapist bait; water so moss-viscous it appears as Prell; radioactive fish; piss in a glass; and Christmas crèche. While her book documents various defacements and violations, ultimately the work highlights volition and reconstruction. McGlynn's book exhibits such spark and voracity it feels channeled instead of penned; and though it may knock us slant into the pitch, it is lit with luminol, liberating what is hidden, and in the process, illuminating and transforming us.
"I wake up somewhere in Ohio. Or, that's how it smells--"
While much is made of the first sentences of novels, no one really thinks all that much about first lines in a book of poetry. Maybe because a book of poetry is a collection, rather than a single work, in many cases. (And I bet half of you who can recite a single first line of a poem can do it from a book-length work, either Inferno, Paradise Lost, or Canterbury Tales. The rest of you... a Shakespeare sonnet. But you are in the way of my point, so clam up for the next four minutes, please.) But the first line of Karina McGlynn's <em>I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl</em> is such a slap in the face you can't help but think "here is someone who thought about it." Which is pretty awesome. And so's the rest of the book. The poem that supplies us that wonderful first line continues...
"There's a phone in my hand, I'm thirty years old.
No, the phone's thirty years old. Its memory's been erased.
I'm naked but for one of those hollowed scarves.
It keeps peeling off like a seedpod.
I'm afraid my sense will fall out,
get lost in the snow and make more of me."
("Ok, but you haven't seen the last of me")
...and you know, I could spend the rest of this review quoting that poem and this book would sell itself, because it's that good. Someone (can't remember who, book's back at the library) blurbed it as being <em>noir</em>, and I can see where she's coming from. There's a definite <em>noir</em> sensibility here, what a friend of mine recently described as "the dark side of existential exploration", the feeling of nihilism that comes with knowing from the first frame of the film, or the first page of the book, that your protagonist is going to be swinging from a rope by the end. But--and I rush to note that this may just be in my head--when I hear <em>noir</em>, I tend to think plot and structure, and had it in my head going into this book that it was a thematic collection or a poem cycle (or god help us a "verse novel"). In case your mind works the same way as mine, I point out that such is not the case. There are relations, naturally, as there are in any poet's work, but there's not a story arc or the like. There are just poems, and they are the best poems I have read since I first discovered Richard Siken four years ago. (Yes, I have given five-star reviews to poetry books in the interim. Yes, there are grades of five-starri-ness.) They're unwashed and they're dirty and they're a little feral and they're unconscionably sexy, within the framework that if you find yourself in bed with them they're as likely to bite a chunk out of your arm as to allow you access. This is a book that doesn't like you. I mean actively doesn't like you. And it's all the more alluring for it. The best book I've read so far in 2011, hands down. *****