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My New Job
Synopses & Reviews
In this third collection, Catherine Wagner assumes a mantle of responsibility. Each opportunity for productivity is a personal call-out; she responds, diligent and strict. A repetitive stretching exercise produces sectional meditations on obedience to self, and to ambition, and the limitations of he body as container, while the obligation to include others in one's apprehension of the room, or self, causes Wagner's slangy, spoken, and singing world of representation to slide from syntactic unit to unit, making room for a galaxy of metonymy. Things mean, and I can't tell them not to. What's going on inside is a watchful self-regard that invites eros to play. Further exploration takes Wagner close into sexual fantasy- the desire for a debased object- and the politics thereof: Well I expect you to go into the/ fucking human tunnel/ I'm going. In each of the four series that make up this book we find a female body watching itself and marking that watching with a severe wit, charmed visuals, and the analytic prowess of a born human.
"Wagner's third collection is conversational and filled with the kind of self-consciousness that acknowledges and draws the reader in: 'I'm lying down with myself and kissing myself.... I thought, you all might enjoy that,/and the honester I get, the/creepier I'll be.' Beginning with a section of 'Exercises,' Wagner (Macular Hole) fixates on the body ('the joint will stay in place like a pearl in Vaseline'), and everyday pain: 'Ah good the left shoulder hurts again/because the right shoulder was, and is the wrong one.' Branching into sexuality, there is fantasy and fixation, but also demystification ('well I expect you to go into the/ fucking human tunnel/ I'm going') and mockery: 'penis regis, penis immediate, penis/ tremendous, penis offend us.' Though she is an experimental writer and takes comfort in ambiguity ('it abstracted me, which was salvation'), these poems are not impenetrable. There is a fascination with the ordinary — 'the apt not mine & the carpet's not my fault/ I love that' — that keeps the collection grounded and candid. Wagner is obsessed, in a good way, with the idea that 'things mean, and I can't tell them not to.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"'My New Job' is the description of work itself.... The book is a raucous public accounting."
"In My New Job 'The women step out, the men go in' and the edifice C. Wagner's made seems an increasingly wider and wider kind of turning—colossal and somatic—through her own body and the bodies of others. Cathy's Job is a joyous multiple. It's a lift."—Eileen Myles
Poetry. A third book of poems by a gurlesque pioneer who continues her intimate and formally inventive exploration of gender, sex, commerce, and power.
About the Author
Poet Catherine Wagner was born to military parents in Burma and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Wagner is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, and the University of Utah's Ph.D in Literature program. She is Assistant Professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
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