Erika Meitner’s fifth collection plumbs human resilience and grit in the face of disaster, loss, and uncertainty. Her narrative poems take readers into the heart of southern Appalachia—its highways and strip malls, its fragility and danger—as the speaker wrestles with racial tensions, religious identity, gun violence, raising children, and the anxieties of life in the 21st century. With a refusal to settle for easy answers, Meitner’s poems embrace life in an increasingly fractured society, and they never stop asking what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.
If you are fearful, America,
I can tell you I am too. I worry
about my body—the way, lately,
it marches itself over curbs and
barriers, lingers in the streets
as a form of resistance.
The streets belong to no one
and everyone and are a guide
for motion, but we are so numerous
there is no pavement left on which to
release our bodies, like a river spilling
over a dam, so instead my body
thrums next to yours in place.
When we stop traffic or hold
hands to form a human chain,
we become a neon OPEN sign
singing into the night miles from
home when the only home left
is memory, your body, my body,
our scars, the dark punctuated
with the dying light of stars.
“In her graceful fifth collection, Meitner (Copia) displays a sense of urgency informed by parenthood in this strange and particularly turbulent American moment.” —Publishers Weekly
“Meitner has created a keen social record of, and commentary on, our persistent human atrocities, but she also admirably transcends the dire in a search for salvation.”—Booklist
“This is a book that really is dealing with raising kids in difficult environments and also kind of facing down the epidemic of gun violence in this country — which makes it sound like it might be kind of a depressing book. But what really impressed me about it is how beautiful and tender it is. It's really just a live wire. She's a Jew in Appalachia raising an African-American adopted son. She is and isn't at home. She's kind of meditating on these things but she does so in this very incantatory, almost prayer-like way.” —Tess Taylor, NPR Books
“Erika Meitner is the quintessential 21st century storyteller bearing witness from the vantage point of a social critic with heart, humor, and an incomparable voice. Holy Moly Carry Me is an urgent document of our complex ties with the past, and the dangers of letting histories, private and public, repeat themselves. She reminds us that “We are under the care of each other and sometimes we / fail mightily to contain the damage.” This collection is Meitner at the height of her powers.” —Carmen Giménez Smith
“Holy Moly Carry Me is a triumph! In these formally dexterous poems Meitner vibrates wildly between the song & the document, exploding the shadowy space between history & memory. The opening poem tells us, “There are holes in all of these stories—open-mouthed gaps in the fence, a singing presence.” The voices in this book fill those gaps with a brilliant & difficult noise. In this necessary, unprecedented book Meitner has assembled the materials of our apocalyptic present & past and invites us in to revel & quake with her.” —sam sax
“In the stunning, exact, and haunting book Holy Moly Carry Me, Meitner’s strong signature voice is on full display, but with a complex empathy for the violent, messed-up world. These are powerful poems that wonder, ache, fear, question, delve into history, and somehow never stop praising the human capacity for survival.” —Ada Limón
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2018