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I'VE HAD TO THINK UP A WAY TO SURVIVE: ON TRAUMA, PERSISTENCE, AND DOLLY PARTON
Fall 2022, University of Texas Press's American Music Series
In 2018, at the crest of one of the most difficult years of her life, Lynn Melnick brought her family to Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that is partly owned by and fully named after country music legend, Dolly Parton. The trip was a personal reckoning with her traumatic, often violent past, and the cap on a decades-long obsession with a singer whose impoverished background in the rural South is so different from her own middle-class Jewish upbringing in Los Angeles. Still, Dolly Parton’s twin identities as feminist icon and objectified sex symbol in so many ways reflect Melnick's fraught history with rape culture and her more recent reclamation of her voice and power. The difficult year left her wanting to get to the bottom of just what it is she loves and needs to say about Dolly.
February 2022, YesYes Books
Read the title poem here.
In this searing new volume, Lynn Melnick dives head-first through concentric waves of personal and generational trauma with her trademark fearlessness. Evincing a complex mind shaped by the late 20th century’s misplaced priorities, Refusenik interrogates misogyny and anti-Semitism across time and a shifting global landscape—from a football field in Los Angeles to a Russian shtetl to a beloved daughter’s Brooklyn bedroom. Variously unraveling and allowing for intricate tangles of anger, nostalgia and love, these agile poems furrow deeper into the terrain of Melnick’s much-celebrated earlier titles, arriving at a profound and pressured understanding of what it means to be a contemporary American.
LANDSCAPE WITH SEX AND VIOLENCE
“Landscape with Sex and Violence is vital reading for the #MeToo movement."
"[A] fierce new collection ... It would be easy to call these poems brave, tough, and angry but fairer to say that Melnick has gone beyond to a cool, critical assessment of moments that define women's lives." Library Journal
"Melnick’s craft is in the extreme language and unfamiliar syntax which blends a brew that, while bitter, is also intoxicating." The Rumpus
"Melnick explores rape culture as it intertwines with surrounding environments, and though at times the poetry is so raw your skin feels non-existent, these words are much needed. She writes about sex work, abortion, rape, the female body—stories and topics that need to be voiced and visible and out in the open. But the poems also contain hope, and love, and physical pleasure." Book Riot
“Melnick combines the readability of fiction with the compression of poetry. Having both qualities in a single collection is a rare achievement." Brooklyn Rail
"In her singular, sly way, Melnick names and tends to her own pain and anger so as to bring us as readers into the slow poem-by-poem regeneration of our common culture. Holding us to the act of witnessing her subversive repair—as we hold her book now in hand—Melnick makes us party to her radical intervention." Chicago Review
"The speaker unflinchingly dismantles idyllic, cultivated landscapes in favor of revealing those where 'crop hangs over gates into dumpsters' and she 'used half a citrus to demonstrate/ what you could do to my cunt.' Over and over, the speaker creates these sharp, distinct and unforgettable images, even when others attempt to render her powerless, or silence her, or leave her to the fog..." Kenyon Review
"In Landscape with Sex and Violence, Melnick writes in part to show rape culture as unambiguous, to reveal misogyny’s normalization as absurd, and to defy those who ask about a victim’s 'role in the incident.' But she mines complexity by grounding these poems in the survivor’s mental strategies... Melnick represents two related dimensions of rape culture: that it is a constant feature of the world in which one lives, and that it changes the way one sees that world." Boston Review
Also reviewed/featured in The Poetry Foundation, Jacket2, Lit Hub, Ploughshares, BOMB, The Rumpus, Poetry Daily, Electric Literature, Women's Media Center, Cincinnati Review, Hyperallergic, KSFR, The Volta Blog, Luna Luna Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Bind, Heard Tell, Anomalous Press, Tell Tell Poetry, and Vallum Magazine.
A Coldfront "Top 40 Poetry Book, 2012"
"Demandingly charming, consistently unpredictable..." Publisher’s Weekly
"These poems are brilliantly dissembling and arch, yet very focused on — and supremely smart about — the subjective history of the self...” Huffington Post
"Melnick’s prickly debut book is deft, dark, mostly fierce, occasionally forlorn. It is full of briefly glimpsed landscapes, many whirring by in a bleak but radiant California." Barnes & Noble Review
"Lynn Melnick’s poems recall the raw power of Anne Sexton and read like Lynchian dreams. The voice of these poems proves consistent and potent, steeping the book in weather and worry, in impulse and flesh, sometimes in blood. . . and all demand recognition of truth, of human details we might rather deny." Coldfront
Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick, editors
A Horn Book "Top Ten Book for Summer”
One of CCBC’s “2016 Choices”
One of Split This Rock’s “2015 Poetry Books We Love”
A Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature “Best Children’s Book of the Year”
One of Teen Vogue’s “Best Poetry Books”
"Marvelous … Please Excuse This Poem comes billed as a book for younger readers; hence, its low price tag. This is part of the sneaky power of the collection, which recognizes that poems are for readers of all ages, that it is not age but intention, empathy, clarity that counts." David Ulin, LA Times
"Incisive and occasionally brash, the selected works by these poets on the rise showcase the challenges of 21st-century living for readers who are ready for them." Kirkus Reviews
CREATIVE NONFICTION/ESSAYS ONLINE