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A Working Girl Can't Win: and Other Poems

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  226 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Deborah Garrison, whose work as an editor and writer has enlivened the pages of The New Yorker for more than a decade, evokes the characters and events of her everyday life with intense feeling and, more important, conjures up the universal dilemmas and pleasures of a young woman trying to come to terms with love and work.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 80 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Modern Library (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 387)
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"Is this the birth of a pundit
or a slut? Is she the woman they courted for her youthful edge
or a kiss-and-tell bimbo,
a careerist coquette?
The loyal daughter to spin doctors
losing their hair or soul sister
to feminist essayists everywhere?
Is her meteoric rise the source
of her potential demise?
Is her worldview equal parts
yuppie whine and new-age rumor?
Can we get a biopsy on her latest
breast tumor? Is she a failed
anorexic, or diet-pill faddist
who'll let it all go and get fat
in her fifties? Are her r
I've read this volume over and over and over again, I just read it again today when I found it by chance at the bottom of a basket of old mail. This was the poetry that opened the door poetry for me. I struggled all through college with poetry. Then I found "A Working Girl Can't Win" on my lunch break at a formerly lovely little bookstore [for Wilmington Delaware residents - The 9th Street Bookstore used to carry a very respectable collection of poetry - my adult immersion in poetry after I read ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Megan rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megan by: honestly a magazine ad, the cover
Shelves: poetry
These poems aren't completely terrible but they aren't particularly good, either. They read kind of like Sex in the City, minus the sex, the humor, or anything else interesting, distilled into the poetry of, say, Billy Collins.
Cute, funny, with flashes of profundity. Even if I did wind up hating the speaker for her arrogance. I still have this on my personal poetry shelf after ten years.
this book is juvenile, self-indulgent, uninventive, unexploratory, surface-level. get over it.
Casey Kiser
This book is really well-written. So well that it kind of annoys me. I actually did enjoy most of the poems but I rated it lower because when I put the book down, nothing stayed with me. Nothing stood out. The author just never quite goes deep enough. Never truly says 'fuck it, I'm gonna say it'. She attempts to do this on the poem 'Fight Song' but it doesn't phase me. I just like poetry with more impact of originality. I need to have emotions dropped on my head. That being said, I do think this ...more
Tell me you haven't had a day like this.....go ahead



Sometimes you have to say it:
Fuck them all.

Yes fuck them all--
the artsy posers,
the office blowhards
and brown nosers;

Fuck the type who gets the job done
and the type who stands on principle;
the down-to-earth and understated;
the overhyped and underrated;

Project director?
Get a bullshit detector.

Client's mum?
Up your bum.

You can't be nice to everyone.

When your back is to the wall
When they don't return your call
When your sick of savi
Julia Marie
I've had her poems stuck in my head for years, after hearing a reading on the radio when I was younger. I don't know what the chord it is that it struck with me but I'm happy to own it and have read the whole thing. The ones I didn't know didn't mean as much to me as the ones I knew already but its one for the shelf that I suspect will come down and down again for years to come .
May 30, 2011 Jess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested
Recommended to Jess by: Fooling with Words
Shelves: poetry, z_11

Came across Garrison's poetry in Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft and wanted to read more.

This was a decent collection. I particular like her use of rhyme, especially the internal and imperfect rhyme. When you read it aloud, some of her stuff just sounds great.

A few poems felt unfinished and I'd hunt for another stanza or couplet. Some poems are better than others (as always) but mostly I just enjoyed it. I'd recommend checking it out from the library.

Also - you're not
Cate Meredith
I read this for the first time in the 1990s. I tried it again recently and loved it just as much as the first time. Sexy, urbane, feminine - these poems are lovely and enduring. Somehow they read a little sadder now, but that only adds to the richness.
julie ann tuliao
Nice compilation of poems :)
word are not very literal,not too deep.
Really can connect with the thoughts the poems makes me think.
Make me reflect on my experiences. :)
Jan magdalene
ohh.. maybe i am missing something but UHGG!
blatant misogynistic heterosexuality as told from the mouth of an eager female participant. vomit.
I read this collection of poems before falling asleep. They’re contemporary, and narrative driven, about marriage and, as the title dictates, being a career girl. They bend towards the angry feminists, and in the most gusto of them all, Fight Song, the energy takes the tired, hum-drum to the next level:
“Fuck the culture scanners, contest winners/ subtle thinkers and the hacks who offend them; / people who give catered dinners / and (saddest of sinners) the sheep who attend them—”
There was someth
Read first time in 2000, second time in August 2011. It ages very well ...

From "Please Fire Me"

Her come another alpha male -
A man's man, a dealmaker,
holds tanks of liquor,
charms them pantsless at lunch:

I've never been sicker.
Do I have to stare into his eyes
and sympathize? If I want my job
I do. Well I think I'm through

with the working world,
through with warming eggs
and being Zenlike in my detachment
from all things Ego.

I'd like to go
somewhere else entirely,
and I don't mean

Twenty-eight sh
Rachel McCready-Flora
I wanted to like Deborah Garrison's poems more than I actually did. Yes, bosses can be arrogant and sexist, some men are terrible, and who hasn't had a day on the job that made them want to jump out of a window? Yet these poems seemed to lack any real depth beyond these themes, which is unfortunate. Her approach to men seemed very Intro to Women's Studies, if that makes sense.

Did I have fun reading them? Yes, especially my angry-feminist inner-self, which smirked most of the way through. But ove
I bought this book in the college bookstore my first year of college. Almost 15 years later, I can't imagine what drew my younger self to this slim volume of poetry very much about adult women. I've reread it multiple times since then and find it new each time. The individual poems are simple and clever and probably seemed subversive to my 18 year-old self. This year my favorites were "There's No Going Back" and "The Kiss."

I purchased this book over a decade ago and loved it. The other day I pulled it from the shelf to reread. It was as good, if not better, then I remembered. The way she writes gives her words an easiness that glides into the readers mind, but with subtle shifts the poems look into the end of happiness which gives them a weight I appreciate.
Abbi Dion
The cover and the title are a Perfect Ten. The poems are immensely readable and fun. They worked best as prose, in my opinion. I'd like to read a novel by this author. I can relate to how this must sound to the author (i.e. a backhanded compliment). I'm off to check if she's got something already written and published. Cheers.
I couldn't resist a Michigan native and the title certainly called to me. I enjoyed the directness and clarity of Garrison's poems but they seemed like attempts to be honest and edgy rather than just honest and edgy. Quite a few lines are pure gold. A quick read and worth the time.
I recommend this book to anyone. Absolutely anyone.

Garrison has a unique and powerful voice on a common subject, woman's struggle with being seen in the workplace as an equal as opposed to an object while balancing sensuality and femininity outside of her job.
I really like the voice in these poems, and I like that there are a few poems that are pleasantly different. I mean, most of these are about relationships, love, being used, and so on, but then BAM there's a contemplative poem about looking at birds.
I have a hell of a time reading long, serious poems- these are smart, modern and funny. I bought it compulsively, randomly flipping through the poetry section of B&N and only after bring it home realized I'd read her stuff before in the Writer's Almanac.
I read "Maybe There's No Going Back" when it appeared in The New Yorker in 1993. I saw myself in the poem, and walked away from a bad situation. I framed the poem and kept it with me for years.
Kate Cronin
An amazing collection of poems centered around a young women's work and life in the city. A few poems in particular will resonate when you are having "one of those days".
Lisa Mooney
Liked the poems but at the same time just felt like I didn't get them. Sometimes I was confused as to what the poet was referring to/writing about.
I picked this slim book of poems up from the Wayne State English Department's "free books" bin last year.
Feb 01, 2008 Amanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: need-to-get-it
A book of poetry I keep meaning to pick up - Deborah has written for us.
I read this book years ago and loved it. It's still on my bookshelf.
This is my favorite book of poems!
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  • Quilting: Poems 1987-1990
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  • What Work Is
  • The Hell with Love: Poems to Mend a Broken Heart
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  • Bright Dead Things: Poems
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  • Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1998
  • Field Guide
  • Favorite Poems
  • Say Uncle
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  • Temper
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Share This Book

“Lately I can't help wanting us
to be like other people.
For example, if I were a smoker,

you'd lift a match to the cigarette
just as I put it between my lips.
It's never been like that

between us: none of that
easy chemistry, no quick, half automatic
flares. Everything between us

had to be learned.
Saturday finds me brooding
behind my book, all my fantasies

of seduction run up
against the rocks.
Tell me again

why you don't like
sex in the afternoon?
No, don't tell me--

I'll never understand you
never understand us, America's strangest
loving couple: they never

drink a bottle of wine together
and rarely look at each other.
Into each other's eyes, I mean.”
“For you she learned to wear a short black slip
and red lipstick,
how to order a glass of red wine
and finish it. She learned to reach out
as if to touch your arm and then not
touch it, changing the subject.
Didn't you think, she'd begin, or
Weren't you sorry. . . .

To call your best friends
by their schoolboy names
and give them kisses good-bye,
to look away when they say
Your wife! So your confidence grows.
She doesn't ask what you want
because she knows.

Isn't that what you think?

When actually she was only waiting
to be told Take off your dress---
to be stunned, and then do this,
never rehearsed, but perfectly obvious:
in one motion up, over, and gone,
the X of her arms crossing and uncrossing,
her face flashing away from you in the fabric
so that you couldn't say if she was
appearing or disappearing.”
More quotes…