Wednesday, April 8, 2020


"Her syntax is a croquet mallet she swings unpredictably." What immediately struck me about Karyna McGlynn's collection Hothouse is how energetic it is! It made me question my own work: is it too slack? is there a lack of pizzazz? McGlynn's very smart poems dig into pop (which I've always been partial to) and take stances that feel singular. I love how, like a Clue board, the book is split into rooms: Bedroom, Library, Parlor, Wet Bar, Bath, Basement. And the corresponding poems for each section fit so well. McGlynn also incorporates dialogue which either sound surreal / ridiculous or something that could be clipped from everyday conversation, or both. The poems, showing different relationships, feel like dream snapshots. One standout is "The New Sincerity:" "I'm supposed to believe we live / in a world where fifteen-year-olds know the theme song to The Jeffersons?" And then the poem launches into a description of a comic, sneering scene with a preppy law student. And then we move to this lovely description of a "dream where C+C Music / Factory was an actual factory, where / "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody / Dance Now)" was our one earnest / anthem." Just yes to all of this. I feel inspired by this book--all its descriptions and brawny verbs and wit and I'm going to read more of her work now!

-Jeffery Berg

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