I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (Hardcover)

I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (Hardcover)

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Author: Nikki Wallschlaeger

Publisher: Bloof Books (2019) (Reissue)

“This book presents portraits of Mattel’s ‘Julia’ Barbie doll (produced 1969–70 and modeled after TV star Diahann Carroll), bracketed by meme-style language. It’s a good visual companion to Crawlspace. The poet’s weariness with white male supremacy and female labor comes through perfectly in the wry face of Julia: ‘I wish you were a beer / instead of a colorblind mansplainer,’ reads one meme. In these pieces, as in Crawlspace, Wallschlaeger hits a delicious pitch somewhere between tragedy and humor; her singular first-person voice persists throughout the work, narrating the energy she draws, like a phoenix, from her own exhaustion.”

Iris Cushing

“The writing in I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel is, by turns, thrillingly allusive and thrillingly frank.… I’ve had some difficulty deciding how to quote these poems: for example, should the top text and the bottom text be regarded as a separate line? And what happens when those lines themselves contain enjambments? Wallschlaeger uses the format and the grammar of the meme to disrupt the logistics of poetry, to challenge the rote responses of readers to literary texts. I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel raises fundamental questions about what poetry is: is each image its own poem? Or is the chapbook a single long poem? (And what’s the relationship between the text pieces, which preface and conclude the memes, stretching across the inside flaps of the book?) The questions themselves betray a kind of thinking which Wallschlaeger’s work challenges, indeed uproots: they presume that poems have relatively well-defined boundaries, that they are single, separable objects, with distinct and durable forms. But Wallschlaeger’s is a poetics of multiplication and plurality.” 

Toby Altman