Meme
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Meme

3.16 of 5 stars 3.16  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Acclaimed poet Susan Wheeler, whose last individual collection predicted the spiritual losses of the economic collapse, turns her attention to the most intimate of subjects: the absence or loss of love.

A meme is a unit of thought replicated by imitation; examples of memes, Richard Dawkins wrote, “are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of...more
Paperback, 102 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by University Of Iowa Press
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National Book Award Finalists - 2012
21st out of 24 books — 57 voters
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Dolls / Barbies
22nd out of 27 books — 6 voters


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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Meme happens in three parts.

In "The Maud Poems," each page sticks a mini four-line poem into something that feels like a conversation between a harried mother/wife and the people in her house. I wanted to read more of what she was putting on the page, and less reminders to eat your vegetables.

In "The Devil - or - The Introjects" - these are tiny poems, sometimes just thoughts in passing. One on a page, and the pages go quickly.

In "The Split," it is hard to tell if each page is a poem again, or...more
Kasandra
An "elegy" for a mother with whom the author seems to have had "issues", this feels like a string of short remembrances laced with conversation and imagery that never strikes the heart, speaks to the soul, or signifies much beyond whatever it means to the poet. This is the sort of "poetry" where I feel just about anyone could read the book, copy the style, and turn out 100 of these entire books every single year. I don't understand this stuff. It speaks to nothing in me, it's just splattered on...more
Liam Guilar
I don’t understand. This book was a national book award finalist. I think there’s a point where being clever takes over and sets up a smoke screen. I think i understand what's going on, but I don't know why I should care enough to try and tease it out. Consider what would happen if anyone else offered this poem to a publisher:

I thought I was up in my head.
Was I up in my head
Or dead?

this takes up a whole page in 'Meme".

Or this one which has a title:

Judas Priest.
You can’t sit there and tell me...more
Jon Corelis
Experiment with limited success

The confessional style has become so common in contemporary American poetry as to be, if not obligatory, at least standard. Apparently, the creative writing workshop principle "write what you know" has been established to mean, "Don't write about anything that hasn't happened to you personally" -- a recipe for narcissism in literature. Thus we find book after book of contemporary American academic verse which sounds for all the world like a transcription of a thera...more
AnandaTashie
I feel a bit mixed about this book. On the one hand, the poems sometimes seemed disjointed or stream of consciousness (that didn't make a particularly strong emotional connection). Some of the play on words and format bordered on... maybe pretentious? On the other hand, some were interesting; some worked for me.

p 20, "You can't sit there and tell me anything you've said here is true. / Lace our shut eyes shut. / Don't you ping my machine. Young lady."

p 70, "Bye to those I fear dead. / I know yo...more
Leonard
This 2012 National Book Award finalist is an unusual collection of poem. I liked the form of the poems in the first section in which each poems looks a poem within a poem, but was less impressed with their content. Like much poetry today some of these seem more like fragments of poetry rather than complete poems in themself. Most are untitled, which may make the poem seem more focused. Occasionally a titled poem results in the poem and its title leaing the reader in two different directions. Thi...more
Nan
I admire Wheeler for her verbal gymnastics, but I couldn't quite connect with the book as a whole. The force of a Meme is nowhere present. The book as a complete work seems too self-reflexive to reach beyond the personal. The Devil or The Introjects and The Split seem to be incomplete, barely overheard conversations. The Maud Poems, though, could stand on their own. They save the book. I love the way Wheeler mixes the idiomatic mother voice with the 4-line lyrics. It was both shocking and refres...more
 wade
A short collection of three series of poems that look into interpersonal relationships mainly from a negative point of view. The first shows cliche after cliche that parents use to try to get their kids to do want they want them to do. They are very trite but I heard many of them when I was growing up. The last series is about the feelings and things we say when we are in the process of splitting up with someone that we once loved. The book was a finalist for the National Book award and I think...more
Matt
More a notes on how to read this than anything else: the three sections in this book each record one side of a conversation, or so I read it. So one is poet in dialogue with her mother, etc. Dialogues are further fragmented, with interpolated other bits. Formally I liked the challenges it presented, but the poems and the themes they engaged didn't make me feel moved to make the effort to decode it much more than I have here.
Kristy
Reading these poems was like listening in on one side of a phone conversation. The reader is asked to fill in a lot of blanks, which is both good and bad. These poems are short, but sometimes inscrutable.

The Good
"Turkey in the Straw"
I don't want to hear a word from you until you pick up steam. Now god find Minneapolis. Get lost.
Elizabeth
This was informative.
John Orman
Sorry, in this tiny book I did not see the point of just about all these poems--but maybe that was the point?
Hank Kalet
A wonderful, difficult book that deserves further reading.
Idra
Loved this book.
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