Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. "The title of Melnick's stunning book is a microcosm of the poems within—the uncertainty of 'if I should say' followed by the defiance of 'I have hope.' Her poems follow moments of unmooredness ('I am best / when I dabble in consciousness and a soundly / spinning room') with blinding insight ('You wouldn't know happy if it kissed you on the mouth')—tiptoeing followed by a kick to the head. On the melancholy-go-round of these poems, there's a swan-seat for sadness but also a tiger called Beauty and a horse called Hope. The unexpected music and syntax of Melnick's work will make you want to ride/read it again and again."—Matthea Harvey
"Lynn Melnick's poems are a series of swift kicks knocking over whatever a lot of Boys think it's like to be a Girl. They're also the bruises afterward. IF I SHOULD SAY I HAVE HOPE teems with very small and much larger devastations, crackling throughout with fierceness and stealth and wry intelligence. 'There's some kind of crazy on the way,' she says. Those of us who've seen that crazy coming need this book. Those of us who haven't need it more."—Mark Bibbins
"Lynn Melnick's poems in IF I SHOULD SAY I HAVE HOPE recall the raw power of Anne Sexton and read like Lynchian dreams. The voice of these poems proves consistent and potent, steeping the book in weather and worry, in impulse and flesh, sometimes in blood. Most of the poems in IF I SHOULD SAY I HAVE HOPE are formal in structure and tone, built mostly in couplets, sometimes tercets and quatrains, and all demand recognition of truth, of human details we might rather deny. If I should say I have hope, the speaker suggests, I need to say all of these things first. She confesses, 'I'll wreck it if it's good.' Calling attention to our often-destructive tendencies, the poet admits fallibility and imperfection, while quietly offering refuge to a thing with feathers."—Melinda Wilson, Coldfront Magazine's Top 40 Poetry Books of 2012
"Demandingly charming, consistently unpredictable, Melnick's debut asks for notice at first for its language, whose glitter casts Melnick as both sophisticate and ingÃ©nue, 'gleaming with what I wanted/ to be.' Its surfaces place her firmly in this century, far from the transparencies of memoir, and yet, on rereading, subjects emerge principally a Southern California adolescence in part imagined, in part misspent. 'I rarely knew where I was going/ when I shut the door of whoever's car,' says a poem called 'Superstar Hollywood Home Tours.' Color-saturated, ornate, and personal, distinguished by short exclamations and long titles, flirtatious as often as introspective, Melnick evokes a line of elaborate American voices, from Matthea Harvey to Hart Crane, casting herself as 'starlet on the landing, overlooking sea-level,/ eclipsing occasion.' Consistent in her rapid free verse, her contemporary wordings, Melnick finds variety in her sentence shapes as well as her topics (a road trip, Yom Kippur, Lake Tahoe). Her volubility, as well as her verbal intelligence, makes the collection a pleasure indeed, even as it warns us against ourselves: 'You wouldn't know happy if it kissed you on the mouth.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lynn Melnick was born in Indianapolis and grew up in Los Angeles. Her poetry has appeared in BOMB, DENVER QUARTERLY, Guernica, Gulf Coast, jubilat, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and elsewhere. Her fiction has appeared in Opium and Forklift, Ohio, and she has written essays and book reviews for Boston Review, Coldfront, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry Daily, and VIDAweb, among others. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.