PRAISE FOR MEAT
“…Broder’s second collection cranks up the weird by mining the grotesqueries of her speakers’ relationships with men, god, the self, and food. That these elements often become indistinguishable–as in “Ciao Manhattan,” where “It is so god/ When the voice is like wheat// Spooned wheat/ In whole milk”–is evidence of Broder’s talent for showing us our contemporary conflict: god is both a haven from the grotesque and the name we rail against when we aren’t safe from it. But Broder is smarter than to suggest that there are only two sides to this dilemma. Out to “crucify boredom,” her poems show us how any relationship with the divine is no less at risk of engendering grotesque lust. “Yesterday the worship rattled like an engine,” she writes, and “God keeps unfurling me/ with god’s gigantic helium.” What makes Broder such a pleasure on the page is her insistence that these dramas play out on a workaday stage infused with surreal Pop and imaginative muscle. “When the last Beatle dies,” she tells us in “Ringo,” “the president hits a kill switch/ and all our possessions/ drift like eyelashes/ through a crack in the sky.” In Broder’s hands, it’s good to kiss them good-bye.”
With a title recalling Yeats (“Consume my heart away; sick with desire / And fastened to a dying animal”), Broder risks the divine in her second book: ‘Yesterday the worship rattled like an engine / I said Let this voltage last forever.’ But the voltage won’t. These shrewd, funny, twisted, sad poems were written by a ‘Lonesome Cowgirl’ who ‘stopped looking for magic’ somewhere and now just wants to ‘buzz all night.’ ‘Once I was a nightrider with a wild rag. / Now I haven’t seen a horse in three years.’ The familiar vacillation of spiritual yearning and sensual pleasure is given an upgrade: ‘Please describe / your vomiting; it is like a psalm to me / a place where wilderness might be new.’ ‘Boredom is going to get crucified’ on Broder’s watch.
–Michael Robbins, The Chicago Tribune
“Meat Heart by Melissa Broder is unbelievable and overwhelming for its imaginative power alone, but if you listen past the weird you can hear all sorts of things: sadness, seriousness, life, death, and a whole lot of laughter. I love it. Broder is a tremendous talent and I’m glad that book exists.”
–Patrick Somerville, Flavorwire
Melissa Broder’s Meat Heart embodies that strain of sustenance, that sort of psychosomatic excitement most valiant art more or less tries to pull off…it’s a sleek machine hauling gnarly cargo—persons, places, things, things, things. Because Melissa’s projections—more pop personist than personal—lay forth, and are laid upon, a sense of spirit contingent on body, we get more than love songs. We get skewed prayers. We get banquets. Transfigurations and showdowns, tough ghosts and fake heavens, escapades through culture-struck waking dreams and flaming cities of memory. Her poems don’t bore or bear down. They beam oracle energy. They pump a music of visions for the life-lusty death dance.
–Peter Moysaenko, BOMB
“[In] Meat Heart there is a burgeoning tension between the spiritual life of the imagination and its blood and guts container—the forehead, the hips, the heart—that is both dire and light. At the core of these poems is hunger, the drive to consume or destroy, an instinctual void as visceral as it is absurd…”
–Matthew Zingg, The Rumpus
Don’t believe Melissa Broder when she writes, “I’m afraid / to say anything with heart.” This book is not afraid, as she proves right away and on every page, and that’s why we needed her to make it. A little dark, a little damaged, a little deranged, but definitely not afraid—and never short on the titular organ, which also acts as mouth and mind. The whole book pumps, and I swear some of what’s coming in and out are flashes of light that you can read it by.
–Mark Bibbins, author of The Dance of No Hard Feelings
With her hallmark wit and brilliance, Melissa Broder has followed up her heralded When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother with Meat Heart, a book of poems that is at once apocalyptic, full of sorrow, and packed with images crystalline in their beauty and truth. In these poems, Broder takes us through a world that is both alien and familiar to the world that we already know, a wild landscape where there is “ash fish / and elemental octopi,” where “cornhusk filaments / Still jacket tongues,” and where in a place with “200 flavors of panic/the worst is seeing with no eyes.” All of these freakish things to help us confront the bald fact that we are all just a series of meat hearts ourselves. It is here that Broder shows her generosity as a poet, because she makes us a new world in these poems where we go beyond meat—a world where Broder tells us, “Somewhere I stopped looking for magic.” I guess she found all she needed; this book is full of magic.
–Dorothea Lasky, author of Thunderbird
The speaker in Meat Heart is either an old-world witch or a contemporary warlock. That is to say, this speaker-being gallops through time making thrilling observations. There is a focus on meat, blood and food. The poems tear through the reader with a reassuring giggle, yet remain ominous. Broder writes, “I find a thighbone in his mattress / and think of friends gone missing.” She also writers “G-d loves my hair,” so we are reminded not to be overly frightened. To read Meat Heart is to consume, perish, murder, glitter, and prophesize. To say that Broder is fearless is not saying enough.
–Natalie Lyalin, author of Pink and Hot Pink Habitat
PRAISE FOR MOTHER
“This debut from Broder…is as funny and hip as it is disturbing…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.”
“…obsessive, energetic and pop-culture-infused poetry…”
–Time Out New York
“…Melissa Broder performs a kind of literary augury few poets have the stamina for…The muscular, resilient, compassionate force behind When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother characterizes a new generation of poets who have cast off the safety net of simple repartée…The result in this volume of poems is an inventive, restless ricochet between a cultural psyche at war with what it has been taught to idealize, and its bullshit-sensitive belly-mind. Broder’s insight and honesty will make your brain light up and your hair stand on end.”
–The San Francisco Examiner
“Broder’s verse is acrobatic and whip-smart…its own creature. A fit and noisy body, it steamrolls through crises with the sugar and swing typically associated with the likes of The Shangri-Las and Ramones. These poems go on gut rhythm and beg for exclamation in a crowded room rather than the mute restraint of the printed page. And that’s a good thing too.”
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.
–American Book Review
“…an energetic dissection of contemporary American life…Broder’s observations on the meaning and nonsense of pop culture are penetrating and illuminating…a vibrant and eclectic collection.”
“Melissa Broder shows major chops. Here is a poet with a gift of gaze, able to look long and hard and deep at the world…churning near-perfect lines out of her observations…in a narrative voice that is charming, disarming, and instantly addictive…The world of this book is real world, profoundly felt…she’s infused something sparkling and super-charged into the seemingly banal—which is maybe a decent definition for art. Broder can work with anything—from the Dixie cups at the methadone clinic to pots of chicken soup…a major statement from a poet with skill and soul.”
“She’s a gunslinger, staring down reality, taunting it, laughing down its barrel….[Broder] could breathe new life into the world of poetry, taking the proverbial stick out of the ass of modern literature.”
–Notes & Gracenotes
“…evokes Portnoy’s Complaint and Woody Allen and generally just sticks in your head…”
“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
“Broder surveys the public and private landscapes of America in this sticky, syrupy late night breakfast of contemporary culture— “it smells of sloppy joe and strawberry Charleston Chew.” Everything you love and hate about consumer culture and the media is in this book…”
—Matthew Rohrer, Rise Up
“Melissa Broder’s ebullient, essayistic poems pay attention to sounds and sense, rousing tunes out of Duane Reades and words like “unhitchery” equally. She addresses her poems to a world of non-poetic people who might find themselves in her poems: people with acne, teenage waifs, and aging anarchists alike. They are cosmopolitan in a playful kind of way. They’re super poems.”
—Daniel Nester, How to Be Inappropriate
“Whether she is writing about the baggage borne by modern romance, spitting out peyote buttons, or declaring “you have mixed feelings about suicide prevention,” Melissa Broder speaks with tart charm and arresting detail of a generation figuring out how and what to love. Her poems are droll, edgy, a little on edge, and deftly poetic. Even when they speak out of the side of their mouth, under their breath they are wonderfully, and subversively, moral.”
—David Groff, Theory of Devolution