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Useful Junk

Useful Junk

Current price: $17.00
Publication Date: April 5th, 2022
BOA Editions
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Erika Meitner's previous collection, Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA, 2018), won the National Jewish Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and for the Library of Virginia Award in Poetry.

Strong regional appeal in Appalachia, New York, and Miami. Meitner has connections to Jewish community centers, universities, and bookstores throughout the Eastern United States, with particularly strong connections in New York City, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Detroit.

Several documentary poems in Useful Junk were commissioned by the City of Miami for a series on built environments and sea-level rise. A 28-page spread of these poems with accompanying photographs by Anna Maria Barry-Jester are featured in the Summer 2021 issue of Virginia Quarterly Review.

In the words of the author: "When I started Useful Junk, it felt like a really intimate project I was writing for myself, as a middle-aged woman trying to remember that I had a body-that the world is not OK, but we are beautiful if we can see our own light and remember our own porousness."

Useful Junk includes a series of poem-letters that began as a digital correspondence between the author (a Gen-X English professor in rural Virginia with two kids) and a young writer (a Millennial former tech industry worker in New York coming to terms with her queer identity after a recent miscairrage). These poems explore the unique dynamic of online cross-generational friendships and the life lessons both women learned from each other.

Meitner's work is confessional, autobiographical, political, narrative, sincere, and accessible. Her work is deeply engaged with the present zeitgeist and offers a window into contemporary US culture via an immensely personal look at an individual's life. This collection engages with the themes of experiencing desire in a middle-aged female body, inhabiting physical and virtual spaces, cross-generational friendships, selfies and surveillance technology, and how machines and our relationship with machines frame and shape our lives during a period of increasing global and national crises.

About the Author

Erika Meitner is the author of six books of poems, including Useful Junk (BOA, 2022); Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA, 2018), which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Copia (BOA, 2014); and Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner. Meitner's poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in publications including Best American Poetry, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Poetry, and The Believer. Other honors include fellowships from MacDowell, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Bethany Arts Community, and Blue Mountain Center. 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. Meitner lives in rural southwest Virginia and is currently a Professor of English at Virginia Tech.