Poet Lore and The Writer’s Center present a FREE virtual chat about the craft of poetry! We’re joined by Erika Meitner to discuss her new poetry collection, Useful Junk. Erika is in conversation with Emily Holland, poet and Editor of Poet Lore, America’s oldest poetry magazine.
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We encourage you to order a copy of the book from your local, independent bookseller or online through the publisher.
Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; Copia (BOA Editions, 2014); and Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her sixth book of poems, Useful Junk, was published by BOA Editions in April of 2022. Meitner’s poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Poetry, Orion, The Believer, and elsewhere. Other honors include fellowships from MacDowell, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Blue Mountain Center, and Bethany Arts Community. She was also the 2015 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, and is currently a 2022 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellow. Meitner is a professor of English at Virginia Tech. You can find out more about her at erikameitner.com.
About the Book
A master of documentary poetry, Erika Meitner takes up the question of desire and intimacy in her latest collection of poems.
In her newest collection Useful Junk, Meitner explores memory, passion, and the various ways the body sees and is seen. These poems speak to us from parking lots, planes, dreamscapes, and the digital arena to affirm that we are made of every intimate moment we have ever had. Letter poems to a younger poet interspersed throughout the collection question desire itself and consider how digital technologies—sexting, Uber, selfies, Instagram—are reframing self-image and shifting the ratios of risk and reward in erotic encounters.
With dauntless vulnerability, Meitner taps into the metaphysical, the ekphrastic, the sensual, and the ordinary moments of life, remaining porous and open to the world, and always returning to the desires rooted deep within the self as a way forward in a damaged world. Boldly asserting that pleasure is a vital form of knowledge, Useful Junk reminds us that our selves are made real and beautiful by our embodied experiences, and that our desire is what keeps us alive.