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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  232 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A fearless and uproarious litany of contentions and revelations on poetry and the poetic mind, continuing the charge against the sacred in contemporary poetry. Poemland alternates brilliantly between the deadpan, the spectacular, and the outrageous.

If you open your mouth to start to complain I will fill it with whipped cream . . .

There is a floating sadness nearby . . .

Paperback, 120 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Wave Books
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(showing 1-30 of 489)
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Feb 18, 2009 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jackie!
Shelves: read-in-2009
This is a poem of audience, ego and poems. It is hilarious. I love every line beginning “this is.” It is too bad I hate the words snarky and zingers because both words apply.

One BIG DEAL here is white space galore. No more of Minnis’ signature trails of ellipses. I love the trails of ellipses, but this is good too. And don’t get me wrong, there are ellipses; the dots appear in "respectable" sets of two or three.

The uniformity of this poem is intriguing. I am particularly interested in the black
read this on my 1.5 hour tube ride to work today. Instantly felt a little bit more free. One of the main things that draws me to poetry are the possibilities of momentary freedom. Through the ego to get out of the ego. The constrictive totalizing self! The anti-poetic! Skirting the market economy of the imperializing English novel this gives me something like the authenticity of conflicting emotions . . hm . . can poetry speak to the multiple you? This one did. All emptiness is form and all form ...more
Michael Vagnetti
When you first get cotton candy out of the machine, it looks huge, mountainous. But it's inflated sucrose, half of it is something you don't eat, but breathe. Poemland is a kind of Disneyland, a Disneyville. It's not a polis, and definitely not a world. Poemland is wantable: it's eccentric platitudes uttered one conversational line at a time.

Do you actually want to go to Poemland? More than you want to go to Nicaragua, or caving in Tennessee?Poemland is an extinct, submerged island, dinosaurean.
The microreview I wrote for the Black Ocean blog

If you agree with Aristotle when he writes in the Poetics that “the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor” and that such mastery is “a sign of genius,” then you might also agree that Chelsey Minnis is a brilliant mastermind.

In her mirthful and melancholy fourth book Poemland, she writes, “The past should go away but it never does... / And it is like a swimming pool at the foot of the stairs...
read more of my reviews at

When I first read through this short collection of poems I didn't like it at all. Yet I couldn't quell my compulsion to immediately read through it again. The second time around I loved every word.

Minnis is a radically new category of poet. This category might only ever contain one poet. They at least appear to be semi-autobiographical, but rely heavily on absurd (and often disturbing) images. She uses similes where convention scream
Emotional in the best sense, and I say this after reading these other reviews. I don't agree with some of what Timothy Yu said, but am glad he liked the book, it's one of those books I want everyone to read.

There are so many unexpected tripwires along the way here, you've got to trip on them to know them. AND LET ME SAY TOO how happy I was to hear a poet unafraid of saying poems can be, even should be of use.

There's a torrent of anti-usefulness in poetry, none of it I believe in. In fact, even t
Minnis is actually a former Portlander. She used to read at the Café Lena open mic back in the day (mid 90s) and I saw her a few times. She is usually known to communicate through angsty verbage and sullen silences (illustrated by her love of ellipses), but in Poemland, her 3rd book, she seems to display a fresh new confidence in her ability to express her thoughts and feelings without all the pauses and blunt stops. So many lines spark and shine like fireworks here, making Poemland a warmer, th ...more
Aug 06, 2009 Mia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Like meat-colored candy!

When I read a great deal of Chelsey Minnis in one sitting I find that I rise to have a narrator in my head, speaking in her speaker's voice...and it glitters.....Like meat-colored candy!

Were _Bad Bad_ and _Zirconia_ nonce forms that became this fixed form? Is it helpful to speak of it as a manifesto? Probably not. That's probably boring.
Jeff T.
picked up the gorgeous cloth as my final-lap awp splurge. the tabler told me the designer told her the full text of the book is printed on the dust jacket (different design than the trade). which is to say the text is spare; however, words are well chosen, direct but spoken from the side of the mouth. barbed and vulnerable. kinda pissed. i want to read it again.
This is the book I go back to when I'm stuck writing. Major love. Snarky & Marxist & anti-climactic & crap coming towards you on a conveyor belt.
a real fuck you
This book was very enjoyable to read and very easy to follow and understand. Though there were plenty of quirky descriptions and phrases throughout, the poems were united by their commentary on the idea of "poetry." Some poems dealt with what poems should be, or what the specific poem was meant to evoke, or what the poet's work was. For example, on page 49, the speaker/poet explains: "This is hard work and soft work..." Many of the poems had an informative feel, as if it had a true purpose or me ...more
First off, this book is a kind of perfectly designed book. The repeating UPC image, the seemingly random division of the book into sections, the lack of titles and sense of order. All of these things lend to the sense here that Minnis is writing this as something to be sold, without any other reason for an existence. This is not to say that there are not a lot of good poems here. Many of the clashing images and scatter-shot messages are great. Some parts of the book seem linked, particularly the ...more
I really enjoyed reading everybody's reviews of this book just now after having just finished the book. So many of these reviews were very astute! I think it's interesting that a large number of the reviews mentioned how obsessed with poetry itself the collection is (ahem! the title is Poemland!) and this was often the reason cited for liking/disliking the collection.

In a sense, Minnis is being a poet's poet here, and the reviewer that called this her "ars poetica" is dead-on; that is, we quali
Paul Klinger
I learned that Chelsey Minnis' father is a dentist. That seemed to be the most important bit of information I got, and that was from the acknowledgments. Without a doubt, this is one of the most legible books I have read this year. So it will probably take over the world. You can read this thing in one sitting, which is invaluable. No kidding. I forget if it's here or elsewhere she is talking about Dorn being the master. Hmmm. I should look that up.

I guess what irritates me about this book and
Jul 22, 2009 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alan by: Ariana Reines
"Now when I drive behind a Diesel-stinking bus
On the way to the university to teach
Stevens and Pound and Mallarmé
I am homesick for war."
~Karl Shapiro, Bourgeois Poet

I love Chelsey Minnis and I think she is one of the most gifted writers publishing.

The problem with this book is the same thing that is so interesting about it: It is an encrustation in the shape of itself, made of the hardened guano of it's own self-loathing. This book is a self-fellating object. It is Poemland only--and nowhere
Rebecca Tassell
"Poemland" really confused me. Especially the black pages in between with the barcodes. At first I though that maybe each black page had a different number for the barcode, but then when I looked at it, all the barcode numbers were the same. This book is just taking up so much space, so much paper, and I feel that it really doesn't need to be. This is also the first book I've read where the poet talks so much about herself. Surprisingly, I liked this book, and I think it's because of the humorou ...more
I work at a college bookstore. Upon putting up shelf tags one day, I saw this book and it caught my eye by its strange cover.
I opened it up and read one poem. I was highly intrigued.

I went online when I got home and ordered the book.
It is a short book and only took maybe an hour to read.

My first impression: Wow this is an interesting form of poetry. I must keep reading this.
As I got further into the book, my impression changed. It was more of a -- What did I just read?

Now, I have never been
I couldn't stand this book. It is a relentless, "expensive joke," and ultimately an exquisitely constructed form with no meat hanging on it at all. Too dry.

The exquisite form is of a supermarket aisle filled with barbie dolls, or other such pink girls' toys, with all its packaging, constant commentary on reification and consumer fantasy style. Her fake enthusiasm and declarations about what things are like and what they are evoke the cloud of advertising that surrounds and defines this supermark
Gus Wenner
In Poemland Cheslsey Minnis gives the reader hints of personal experience weaved within broad statements on life, death and poetry. There are playful sentences intermingled with thoughts of embarrassment, sadness and pessimism. Minnis plays with the role of poet - she writes with a sense of entitlement. Rightfully so, as we are reading her words, as we are inherently interested in whats on her mind. Minnis will go from talking about "tiny pretty scissors" or "sea crabs" to talking about greed or ...more
Chelsey Minnis writes here about the process of writing poems. It is an innovative look at why we write, what it means to be a writer, and how writing affects our minds. Many of the pages could stand alone as the author's simple thoughts on the process of writing as it relates to life. In particular, one passage that struck me came on page 87 when she asks, "Now that I am happy, why do I need poetry...One's happiness cannot be states." For me, this passage shows that poetry is a tool in the ques ...more
There are some really awesome lines in here:
"And it is a fistfight in the rain under a held umbrella"
The cry lines on page 115
"Life makes me sad. So sad that I walk down the street etc."
These times of lines are fantastic because of the raw simplicity of the language and emotional possibility/power behind them.

However, for every 1 of these great lines, 5 or 10 stuck out that were empty. Sure, they sounded cool, like the several about crotches, but what were they worth, what did they do? Nothing,
Chelsey Minnis' Poemland reads like the translated transcript of Rimbaud bombed on absinthe, or a Russian czarist, who secretly reads Mayakovsky in the wine cellar, ranting as the proles ransack his chateau. The book does everything it's been told not to do: its chief punctuation is either ellipses or exclamation marks, and if it's not brazenly critical of contemporary poetry and poets ("Now all the poems have their titles at the end...") it's trucking in outlandish metaphor ("[The poem:] is fli ...more
Iiiii loooooove thiiiiis booook! It's exactly what i wanted. My face is still tingling from having finished it. I wish i'd written this book. I should have written this book. I'm glad it's there. At first i wasn't sure i liked her use of punctuation, but it wouldn't be what it is without it. Her poems made me shivery and squirmy. Yes! I love it! I want to read the entire book out loud:

I don't know how else to show I'm smart except for poetry...

And then I knock over my bottle of Chateau d'Yquem!

Melissa Barrett
irresistible... quite funny and thoughtful and very readable. couldn't put it down. i'm usually not one for similes, but this book is full of odd ones.
Karyna Mcglynn
I didn't like Poemland as *much* as Bad Bad--it doesn't feel as cohesive thematically and it's more one-note rhythmically and stylistically. Still, it's essential Minnis and you haven't lived until you've had this book sitting on the back of your toilet for a while. It's certainly more approachable than Bad Bad, so it may be a good place to start for those new to Minnis who might be scared off by the ellipses-heavy bling of her first 2 books. Instead, what we have here are unadorned New American ...more
Victoria Elmore
Minnis's Poemland was easy to read and understand, though I thought that it lacked substance in some places. It often felt like one HUGE metaphor for poetry and the poet, but in a way that made me feel like she was speaking to poets while not considering me one. I like the idea of a poem about poetry, or a poem about how to write poetry, but I think Minnis took it a little too far.

That being said, she uses beautiful diction to create specific images throughout her work, and, unlike many other p
A really nice, loose-feeling collection of poems that feels somewhere between one long poem with different movements and a collection of very short poems (each page has between four and eight lines on it, all of which end with the same ellipsis). I really enjoyed reading this once I got into the rhythm of it. It's funny and awkward and occasionally sexual and occasionally mundane, but pretty consistently readable and interesting. Definitely a good read and definitely something that warrants a se ...more
Bryan Coleman
This book is elaborately articulate, but at the end of the day its a complete mindfuck. I wouldn't say this book has any real emotional depth but you get some smart ass lines completely out of left field. The poems in the middle got a little bland but picked up the end.

The barcodes on the cover and throughout the book are definitely overkill, but her point is clearly evident.

All in all I like it how Chelsey Minnis talks shit about conventional poetry, and her voice was very tongue and cheek.
Curt Anderson
I really liked this book but wish it were significantly shorter. The writing itself is clever and contemporary. None of the usual sentimental poet traps. After about 50 pages, though, it seemed to become too formulaic for my tastes. She's definitely a poet to keep track of, though. The packaging is admirable, from the barcode sections and cover page to the gorgeous pink background.
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Chelsey Minnis was born in Dallas and grew up in Denver. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the author of Poemland (Wave Books 2009), Zirconia (Fence Books, 2001), Foxina (Seeing Eye Books, 2002) and Bad Bad (Fence Books, 2007). She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information on this author, go to:
More about Chelsey Minnis...
Bad Bad Zirconia Towards An Improved International Reference Ionosphere: Proceedings Of The Ursi/Cospar Workshop Held In Stara Zagoa, Bulgaria, 30th August 3rd September 1983

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“A poem is all that's left of my lost loneliness...

It is like a window that looks into a swimming pool...

Or an a empty gun indentation in velvet...

And a baby gazelle given as a gift...”
More quotes…