Books

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GentleWomen

Noemi Press, forthcoming 2020

 


Teaching Guide Available Here (PDF)

In Deep City Megan Kaminski continues her role as cartographer of desire, of longings both “feudal,” futile, and refined. Her delicate poems loiter at the intersection of bodies and letters (both alphabetic and epistolary), where objects and imagination collude. Kaminski’s poems beautifully illustrate how our sense perceptions insistently puncture through even the most rational arrangement. Deep City—not so much a place as a literary pleasure. —Jennifer Moxley

She writes, “what if I split it open / melon ripe and red / let them all out” but there is no “what if” about it as these beautiful poems dispatch us around the world where everyone awaits. The vivid reimagined anatomy of the page in Megan Kaminski’s brilliant Deep City is host to the unexpected “slide from languid to louche” listening with our enthusiastic ears. You will be wild about this book with me! —CA Conrad

“There are no cities, no cities to love” proclaim Sleater-Kinney on their latest LP, but I guess they can be forgiven for not anticipating Megan Kaminski’s new book of poetry Deep City, a collection so attuned to the pleasures of sound and perception that one can’t help loving its intricate architecture. Kaminski has a wonderful sense of the line as unit, and a finely calibrated sense of how words hang together in sound. —Quarterly West

Decentralizing and deconstructing the familiar notion of single speaker in the landscape, Kaminski both challenges the Romantic ideal of pastoral poetry and enlivens the concrete and girders we live in but so often fail to imagine…Kaminski suspends us between our cities and their uncanny doppelgangers, a move that often feels like a suspension between the human and city itself. We are never sure of a solid location—no specific geographies—and yet these landscapes are intensely familiar. In this way, Kaminski creates an urban reading of Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto, blurring what it means to be both human and city. —The Rumpus

Deep City isn’t near me, but (a feeling I rarely get from other books), it is of me. I come to a city without an agenda because the city itself is the agenda for me, just the wander and become part of it. I’m not creating a map of the city in any observable way but rather a set of senses that appeal to me, that I want to recreate every time I visit that place. —Sink Review

Expanding upon the hybridized structures of late modernist long poems such as George Oppen’s Of Being Numerous and Guest’s The Countess of Minneapolis, Kaminski creates a form that engages with questions of temporality, unfolding as it does over the time it takes to read a sequence in its entirety, while also focusing on the momentary nature of the short lyric… In a kind of reimagined futurist moment, the interior and exterior physical realities — of gendered personhood and economic “mechanics” — have opened onto the mysteriously beautiful and unquantifiable glow of color the city emits. —Jacket2

Kaminski’s project reads as if the speaker were Eros walking the streets of his polis composing poems of warmth that emanate from the “colder sounds” of city life. Her ability to stack perception, music, and desire atop one another builds a monument to our hopeful inner-lives. These poems reveal how the meta and physical structures we have erected to protect ourselves from the daily onslaught of the world have tragically separated us from expressing our base longing for another. —Yellow Field

With all of her published work to date, Kaminski is a cartographer-poet, and in Deep City, she sketches an intricately-detailed series of maps across sleep, memory, history and urban spaces (both real and imagined) as well as the often-overlooked minutae of the world, from finger-traces in the dirt to industrial spaces and the city-breath of smoke… Kaminski is quite skilled and packing an enormous amount into the lyric, allowing her lines to fragment and retain both connection and tension while allowing breath and space pauses between; akin to skipping stones across the surface of water, the ripples are long and deeply felt. —Rob McLennan

Interview on Radio Free Albion (with Tony Trigilio)(audio)
Interview at The Volta (with Kate Greenstreet)
Reading + Interview on Sunflower Reading Series KJHK (audio)



The body “being” in sun, the gaze at rain, teleology inside the house –– with these strokes and compasses, Megan Kaminski deftly configures a desiring map, across seacoasts and Kansas plains, through leaves, roots, movements of light. Here a quieter but not quietist America emerges where life’s precarity holds – there is a relation between the natural world and neural capacity –- as we are pulled into syntax’s own search and quizzicality, its seeking to find a place for the I that only momentarily settles before it dislodges again, uncovering questions, finding parts of speech or weeds that answer. “Speech lies in the break on the river edge,” the poem says: “subtle splendor.” —Erín Moure


Megan Kaminski's book is hauntingly quiet, but not silent, just as "teleology is not silent." The book is in some ways the teleology of imagism, realizing itself late in history and bursting into jagged pieces, having been dragged through "some saffron metropolis" and the long summer of the great plains. It is a book that approaches us cannily, drenched in form, never word-spent and never without cocktails; a 21st century pleasure with a keen eye on the terrain and something to say. —Joshua Clover


Kaminski’s beautiful sonic flourishes read as an extension of content. The music of the poems offers a compelling metaphor for the sublime qualities of the “you.” Additionally, Kaminski’s mellifluous cadences read as an invitation, a beckoning to the “you” across a widening expanse… If spoken aloud, the words become almost tangible, a “ginger gin fizz” in one’s mouth. With that in mind, Kaminski draws a clear parallel between language and desire. She calls our attention to the ways that longing, like language, is a bodily experience, a starting ache. —The Literary Review

Kaminski is a deft spinner of rich yet economical imagery—but we will not be offered any facile escape from fractures in a contemporary rural landscape co-opted by corporate farms, packing plants, chemical refineries, and “manmade lakes.” Were it ever possible to map easy admonitory allegories of idealized rural landscape onto critiques of corrupt urban space (which seems doubtful), the stratification and commodification of labor in an era of late capitalism makes such a strategy particularly unpromising. Although the pastoral has been enmeshed with depictions of labor from its very roots (consider Hesiod’s Works and Days), current global economic conditions demand reconfiguration of such a relationship. This Kaminski seems acutely aware of, laying open the pastoral tradition with similar (at least to my mind) discursive and dialectical methods with which a contemporary Marxist (such as Fredric Jameson) might interrogate aesthetics/cultural production in the era of late capitalism—cultural production as the genesis of both contemporary conditions of “realism” and attempts to disguise and divert from the contradictions embedded in these conditions. —The Rumpus

Like Vestal virgins who protected the rituals of Rome by cloistering themselves, the actions in the poems mix trust with discomfort. I found myself somehow relieved that within these poems no one is really anyone and anyone is everyone…The map is never quite drawn out and the references to the sea—as though it were some weird Florida, a place with a bay lodged in a memory or dream—counteract the hot summer in the plains. No map but desire—that’s the overall pull of the book, being in one place while thinking and remembering another. —Denver Quarterly

An estuary, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is “the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream.” It is a transitional, liminal space, a space of meeting and mixing. This word (or more often its variants: estuarial, estuarine), echoes throughout Megan Kaminski’s Desiring Map, calling attention to a poetics of intersection—of language and landscape, landscape and the language of global capitalism. But Kaminski’s poems are not simple lamentations for a natural world crowded out by housing booms and busts. Rather, like estuaries, they are peculiarly productive sites, generating evocative hybrids of urban and pastoral in which “Evening unshadows rocks and ruined libraries” and “manmade lakes flood brown matted sod” (“Carry Catastrophe”; “Across Soft Ruins”). —Quarterly West

Desiring Map revels in landscapes and ecosystems — both natural and manmade — as well as the disturbances that assault them. Her poems are often characterized as quiet, but they’re wrought with a subtle violence, such as where, according to poet Dan Thomas-Glass, the “jet set’s excesses and the bleak horizontals of the mid-country clash to great effect.” Since I first encountered Megan’s poetry, I’ve been drawn to the intelligence, the linguistic precision, and the fascination with systems — ecological, financial, neural — that inform her writing. —The Millions

The Poetry Society of America's "In Their Own Words" Feature
Revisionist Pastoral and the Nature of Nature: An Interview with Megan Kaminski
KJHK's Ad Astra Radio
Talus, or Scree: Ash and Alchemy: A Conversation with Megan Kaminski

 

Chapbooks

 

Essays (selected)

"The Modest Pleasure of Boxed Wine" in The Atlantic

"Song of the Week: 'Put On' by Young Jeezy" in Coldfront Magazine

"Mapping: notes on a poetic practice" in Something on Paper, 2

"A Poetics of Permeability" Los Angeles Review, 14 (2015)

"The Politics of Play" in Post Road, 20