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When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother Paperback – February 7, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This debut from Broder...is as funny and hip as it is disturbing. Poems with titles like Where Is Your Vampire and Not Quite Ready for the NRA feature jumpy, accessible lines about love and lust in a drug- and media-fueled world...These poems are also quirkily compassionate...sexy, and at times even gross... Throughout, Broder searches for a place to stand, and for an object for her considerable sympathies. This is a bright and unusual debut. --Publisher's Weekly

Lusty, obsessive, and drug-fueled are words not usually used to describe a book of poems but in this case, they apply. Melissa Broder's work offers readers a rush, buzz, panoply of pop culture, as well as her own boisterous brand of dark humor. But be warned: behind the irrepressible excess, an extremely clear-headed and sharp-witted poet is taking notes. Her unique gift for being both grounded and giddy at once gives this writing its delightfully wicked edge. --Elaine Equi, Ripple Effect

Melissa Broder's poems are bad-ass ninja assassins smoking Camel straights and drinking Tab in blood-soaked satin tutus. Her new book is full of tightly-crafted, controlled explosions... "Did you vomit in my shower?" begins a poem, and continues to progress in discoveries. When you think she can't get any wilder, she climbs yet another rung...She speaks in many tongues, and all of them bite. --Jennifer L. Knox, Drunk By Noon

About the Author

Melissa Broder is also the author of MEAT HEART (Publishing Genius Press, 2012) and WHEN YOU SAY ONE THING BUT MEAN YOUR MOTHER (Ampersand Books, 2010), which Publishers Weekly calls "as funny and hip as it is disturbing." Poems appear or are forthcoming in Guernica, Redivider, The Missouri Review online, Drunken Boat, Court Green, Barrelhouse, Opium and more. She edits the online journal La Petite Zine and curates the Polestar Poetry Series. By day she is a publicity manager at Penguin. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Ampersand Books; 1 edition (February 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098410254X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984102549
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #483,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Victoria L. Mccoy on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Melissa Broder's debut collection is as playful as it is biting. Turning the pages in this book - and you won't be able to stop turning - is like a kaleidoscope of poetry, each one more colorful, cutting, and mesmerizing than the last. The voice that carries each whirlwind of a poem is unapologetic and wonderfully gritty, leaving you raw by the end of the page. But whether the speaker is dealing with drugs ("You're nobody / 'til some sweet-faced junkie / with a Dixie cup of juice / and methadone loves you / more than his drugs"), self-destruction ("I must stab the heart of my throat / with a toothbrush, dig big / for cemetery belly"), or heartache ("I miss your applesauce. I miss your night sweats"), she is never without tenderness. Grappling with what it means to be a poet, and to grow up female in this culture, Broder is unafraid to stare down her own humanness - the greatest gift a poet can give. Her poetry creates a dizzying, drug-infested, body-image-ridden world that you can't help but want to fix and fall in love with all at once. When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother assures us that poetry can, in fact, still be fun while breaking your heart in the best way.
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Format: Paperback
Melissa Broder's first collection is truly a treat. Her poems are sweet and brightly colored, but still pack the teeth-cracking crunch of hard candies; Broder's sugar is more likely to burn the tongue than to dissolve on it. Her subject matter ranges from Jewish mothers to funny-pathetic New Yorkers to drugs and eating disorders. Especially sharp and affecting are her portraits of the teenage mind; pimpled wretches starve ("put dinner in a locket"), puke, pretend to do drugs, and wander greasily through many of the poems. Formally, Broder's poetry stands out for its playful engagement with sound; the poems luxuriate with full-rhymes and half-rhymes and sounds glancing off of each other; the effect is like an auditory funhouse of mirrors. But it's not all circus-time for grownups in this sexy book, Broder's images, while always entertaining, are serrated with emotion. In one dreamlike poem, Broder imagines time rewinding: "Soon I drop out / of my own poem; / the skull on the wall / reverts into an antelope, its heart / itching for the woods." In "Dear Aging Anarchist," the poem's mode of snarkily shaking its head at newfangled rebel kids shifts into authentic melancholy: "Remember the drug dream you had / in '79, where New York City / got silent sometimes? It died this evening. / Now there is a word for everything." One of Broder's poems has a character with "starlike ache." That phrase, with its gesture towards the gorgeous and the sad, is a quiet, consistent presence beneath the flash and dazzle of this compelling debut.
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Format: Paperback
Melissa Broder's first book of poems, When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother, explores the power of human bonding and the desolation of its flip side, isolation. In the title poem, the narrator delves into her own psychological drama as a function of her narcissistic mother's refusal to commit to natural childbirth and to breastfeeding. Similarly, in "Jewish Voodoo," where a mother buys her daughter a "labia mezuzah," Broder reminds us that we come from the womb, but there's no returning thereto. Yet, with a delightful balance between the dark and the heady, the poems provide a sense that revelry in moments of bleakness is always both possible and desirable.
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Format: Paperback
"If I don't stop using/ the word fingerbang/ I'll never get to be poet laureate."

This is decidedly not your mother's poetry. Thank god for that. Full of junkies, Jews, and Johnny Walker, these poems smile at you sweetly with razor blades in their cheeks. But for all the sharp wit and brand names the volume never loses sight of the essential humanity ("You are already forgiven. / You know that, / don't you?"). The underlying weight (but not heaviness) of Broder's excellent debut makes When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother easy to read and reread.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked some of the poetry but the print was just awful. Print is extremely light and hard to read.
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