Released from BOA Editions on September 9, 2014: Erika Meitner’s fourth collection grapples with the widespread implications of commercialism and overconsumption, particularly in exurban America. Documentary poems examine the now-bankrupt city of Detroit, once the thriving heart of the American Dream. Probing the human desires for love, sex, objects, and home, Copia exposes a vacuous world of decay and abandonment, while holding out hope for re-birth from the ashes.
Reading Erika Meitner’s stunning fourth collection, Copia, reminds me of all the things that make poetry necessary in the first place. Her irresistible ear, her elegance in line and form, her insistently unexpected images that somehow make us more aware of the world around us—its Walmarts, broken cities, and places of worship. As the speaker of “Litany of Our Radical Engagement with the Material World” says, the “objects around us are not strangers” and neither are these poems. Meitner clarifies the hidden and public moments of our lives in these poems by exposing them to each other. She has a singular ability to be both political and comforting at the same time, which is why Copia is the perfect title for this collection. The book’s expansive richness is brimming with unforgettable language, wonder, and the tension that comes from an industrial machine trying to find—and sustain—its spiritual parts. (Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke)
The poems in Copia are about what is and what is almost-gone, what is in limbo and what won’t give way, what is almost at rock bottom but still and always brimming with the possibility of miracles. Meitner writes of the signs and wonders of our American age. She writes as a hostage whose blindfold is removed. She looks and looks and writes what she sees in lines full of danger and full of love. “Somewhere a boy has a pistol / blazing a hole in his pocket / the size of the moon.” She writes of the place, the displaced, the misplaced, the replaced, the excavated, the eradicated, the remembered and always, always, the seen. Meitner’s poems—both ode and elegy at once—describe a world that is both strange and familiar in which she is “not a stranger anywhere.” She writes, “Because though this / world is changing, we will remain the / same: abundant and impossible to fill.” I loved this book. It was a heart-breaking pleasure to read. (Rachel Zucker, author of The Pedestrians)
Copia is a lovely book of anaphora and refrain, repetitions meant to awaken us to the world of plenty we keep missing even as they fly past us. But Erika Meitner’s loud land of object is one she cultivates so that each poem can incite an open-mouthed, awe-inspired silence: “He put his finger to my lips and I / became the wreckage so we could find our way back.” Every pattern made here comes with its requisite and well-timed variation—and when it comes to form, “vaiation” is another word for “surprise.” (Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament)