Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Karyna McGlynn is not a murderer or a sex pervert

Not that I know of anyway.

I just finished reading I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl, Karyna McGlynn's award-winning first book of poems. I read part of it while listening to "Bachianas Brasilerias No. 5" and I must say, that felt very appropriate.

I was in workshop with Karyna during our UofM MFA days. She was pretty intimidating at first. It was her brilliance, really. And the fact that no one wears sunglasses better than Karyna. No one. But then one night at a reading while giving me a hug she spilled red wine down my back, staining my underwear. Thank God my wife was there or she'd never have believed the story. In any case, Karyna and I will always have that. Among other things.

There's a violence to the poems in this book. A sexy violence at times, a "show me on the doll where he touched you" kind at others. There's this constant feeling of "something is going to happen," and you can't look away. Like seeing a penis for the first time, whether it's your boyfriend or some pervert in the library flashing you through the stacks. The entire collection has this low-voltage electricity running through it. Not enough to kill you, but enough to make your hair stand up and rattle the fillings in your teeth.

Karyna is widely published, so there are plenty of her poems online to read. One of my favorite poems from I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl, "Erin with the Feathered Hair," is on Sarabande's Web site. You should read it. And then you should buy her book. And then you should read that. What you do after that is up to you, just know you won't quite be the same.

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