Monday 30 May 2022

Melissa Studdard, "Dear Selection Committee"


Melissa Studdard, photograph by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Melissa Studdard is the author of two poetry collections, Dear Selection Committee and I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, and the chapbook Like a Bird with a Thousand Wings. Her work has been featured by PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and has also appeared in periodicals such as POETRY, Kenyon Review, Psychology Today, New Ohio Review, Harvard Review, Missouri Review, SWWIM Daily, and New England Review. Her awards include The Penn Review Poetry Prize, the Tom Howard Prize from Winning Writers, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and more.

Below, you can read more about her new collection, Dear Selection Committee. You can also read two poems from her earlier collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, on Creative Writing at Leicester here. You can read an interview with Melissa on Everybody's Reviewing here

About Dear Selection Committee, by Melissa Studdard
Framed as a job application, and bounding with associative leaps and surrealist underpinnings, Dear Selection Committee is a subversive, sexy love song to an endlessly messy self and the burning world it inhabits. Full of apostrophic power, these poems shift among registers of loss, desire, and joy as they wrestle with issues such as climate change, addiction, modern distractions, gender presentation, religious questioning, and the nature of pain. Dear Selection Committee attests that although life can feel like a bumpy cab ride to interview for a job you feel uniquely unqualified for, if you lay aside the anxieties of self just long enough to peer out the window, you’ll see great beauty amidst the chaos. The real work, these gorgeously strange poems assert, is not to thrust yourself like a cog into the wheel of the corporate machine but to stay receptive and connected even when it feels as if everything in and around you is going up in flames.

Below you can read two poems from the collection. 

From Dear Selection Committee

My Kind

My life’s burning.
That’s what I mean when they ask how I am and I say 
Fine. Rope-dangling, kicking-the-chair-out-from-under-me 
fine; flirting-with-blades fine; looking-for-Pallas-Athena-
in-my-pancake fine (why would she visit that twerp Telemachus 
and not me?) In my spare time, I’m building a death out of sad 
songs and leftover microwavable food. I’m building a life 
out of sad songs, good friends, and leftover microwavable food. 
It occurs to me that I may be my own soul mate. That’s how I’ve 
ended up in this body alone. But science says self is not 
so simple. I’m a mosaic of viruses, bacteria, and, likely, other 
people. All of us making decisions together. Group hug!
I am my own kind. I’ll learn to play piano. Like Hélène Grimaud,
I’ll see blue rising from the notes. I’ll be an amateur bird watcher, 
a volunteer firefighter, a gourmet chef, a great 
humanitarian. I’ll plant a prize-winning garden,
grow a pot farm. My hair is on fire. I’m running 
out of time. Maybe I’ll learn to paint. Get 
a cat or dog. Something sweet 
that likes to cuddle and poops outside the house. Something 
feral and one step from wild. Something that, 
when the moon jumps in the lake,
will jump in after, howling, in awe of the lake, 
in awe of the moon, in awe of itself and every other
disappearing thing.
My kind.

(Originally in The Normal School)

Supplies I Will Require Before Seriously Considering the Job


horse that says it’s a unicorn


guitars tuned to the melancholy of my childhood


ceremonial washing jugs whose bellies have held water turned into wine


rocks that were made into pets and given names


treatise over the impact of human behavior on the mental health of angels


dandelion puffs that were chased by leopard cubs


exegeses interpreting the lamplight scrawled across my boyfriend’s body


polka dots exiled for being too exciting for their fabric


Bohemian waxwings willing to serve as proxies for all meetings before 11 a.m.


imaginary tea sets used in underwater tea parties


email filter that bounces back any message trying to assign a task


compasses set to the longing of Odysseus’ nostalgia


saint reincarnated into a valentine and slipped beneath my bedroom door


sleepwalking tambourines bound with lust-colored ribbons


strands of hair from a woman who believes the horse

 (Originally in Life and Legends)


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