Saturday 9/29, 2 p.m.
Erika Meitner’s fifth collection, Holy Moly Carry Me, plumbs human resilience and grit in the face of disaster, loss, and uncertainty. Her narrative poems take readers into the heart of southern Appalachia—its highways and strip malls, its fragility and danger—as the speaker wrestles with racial tensions, religious identity, gun violence, raising children, and the anxieties of life in the 21st century. With a refusal to settle for easy answers, Meitner’s poems embrace life in an increasingly fractured society, and they never stop asking what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Holy Moly Carry Me (forthcoming in 2018 from BOA Editions), Copia (BOA Editions, 2014), and Ideal Cities(HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry Series winner. Her poems have been published in Best American Poetry 2011, Ploughshares, The New Republic, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is currently an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs.
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The poems of Empty Clip bore into the cultures of violence in the United States while candidly cross-firing upon the poets’ complicity and testifying on these cultures’ effects upon female body image and mental health. From a meditation about a bullet hole-animated PowerPoint presentation on campus shooters to the startled invective against an unprovoked dick pic, lyrics brooding upon illness-driven suicidal thoughts to narratives about a slippery memory of childhood abuse, Emilia Phillips’s third poetry collection sears with the “angry love” of self, in order to find some truth that’s nevertheless “a broken bone that can’t be / set.”
Emilia Phillips is the author of two other poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (2016), and three chapbooks. Her poems and lyric essays appear widely in literary publications including Agni, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s an assistant professor in the MFA Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Praise for Holy Moly Carry Me
"Erika Meitner is the quintessential 21st century storyteller bearing witness from the vantage point of a social critic with heart, humor, and an incomparable voice. Holy Moly Carry Me is an urgent document of our complex ties with the past, and the dangers of letting histories, private and public, repeat themselves. She reminds us that “We are under the care of each other and sometimes we / fail mightily to contain the damage.” This collection is Meitner at the height of her powers." —Carmen Giménez Smith
"Holy Moly Carry Me is a triumph! In these formally dexterous poems Meitner vibrates wildly between the song & the document, exploding the shadowy space between history & memory. The opening poem tells us, “There are holes in all of these stories—open-mouthed gaps in the fence, a singing presence.” The voices in this book fill those gaps with a brilliant & difficult noise. In this necessary, unprecedented book Meitner has assembled the materials of our apocalyptic present & past and invites us in to revel & quake with her." —sam sax
"In the stunning, exact, and haunting book Holy Moly Carry Me, Meitner’s strong signature voice is on full display, but with a complex empathy for the violent, messed-up world. These are powerful poems that wonder, ache, fear, question, delve into history, and somehow never stop praising the human capacity for survival." —Ada Limón
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Praise for Emilia Phillips's Groundspeed
“Out of this ‘scatter plot’ of recollections crowding into travel’s liminal space, Phillips articulates the paradox of her own personal — as well as our century’s — limbo: ‘We are,’ she writes, buckling her seatbelt for landing, ‘flying back in time, to the new world.’…Language, both Broumas and Phillips imply, is itself a form of time travel, lodging and dislodging us, bringing together the impossibly disparate, and, if we’re lucky, renewing our broken, searching selves.”
—Lisa Russ Spaar, Los Angeles Review of Books
“The insightful poems of Emilia Phillips’ Groundspeed juxtapose the frail and sensuous human body with the detached, projected image: television show, airplane entertainment system, YouTube, hospital monitor. “This is America,” she observes, “where no one witnesses and everyone watches.” When more and more of the horrors of contemporary life seem to reach us through electronic screens, Phillips examines how what we see and how we’re seeing it is redefining what it means to be human. That she does so with wit, compassion, and the eye of an exquisite cinematographer is a great gift to her readers. This is a timely and indispensable book.”
—Nicky Beer, author of The Octopus Game
“In her powerful new collection, Emilia Phillips gives us a world that refuses to be stilled. Exploring the blurred boundaries of a cartographer’s spinning globe, Groundspeed offers a dynamic exploration of the liminal physical and psychological landscapes in which our tentative and transient identities flicker. We are reminded again and again that there is no present moment that does not send its roots far back into the past, no being that is not marked by what it bears. These wide-ranging, muscular poems are as much a stop action study of our present, complex political and social moment as they are a primal record of what it means to be mortal, to be a body and soul capable of tremendous pleasure, love, grief, fear, and pain.”
—Kathleen Graber, author of The Eternal City