Stephen Tully Dierks punches Megan Boyle with Love and Understanding

This is Stephen’s review of Megan’s book:

Megan Boyle‘s debut book, published by Muumuu House, is one of the most intimate I have read. While marketed as a poetry book, it seems to me a collection of poems, blog posts, and essays. At times it felt to me like a diary.

There are recurrent topics, e.g.: food, existence, sex, love, imagined scenarios, relationships, time. The book opens with some of her favorite things to feel (“–the night before leaving for a trip on an airplane”) and closes with the truth behind lies she has told, such as “I don’t really know what I’m looking for right now” (“i’m looking for a two to five year relationship with a man similar enough to me so we feel like we have a special, secret kind of bond, but different enough so we have things to talk about.”).

The poems in the book have qualities familiar to me from reading poetry on blogs: declarative sentences, personal thoughts, zany non-sequiturs.

I like Boyle’s imagination: “i want to spill $75 in dimes on a linoleum floor and watch someone closely as they pick them up / i want to fall backwards into a pit of bioluminescent pok√©mon”. I like her interest in emotions: “what is ‘being in love,’ are the feelings present when i feel like i am ‘in love’ of the same quality and quantity that other people feel when they are ‘in love’? if i was never told there was something i needed called ‘love’ would i feel like i need to have it?”

The book is like spending time in Boyle’s brain. There are (what people-with-whom-I-don’t-agree would call) banal thoughts as well as creative or surprising thoughts. Her mind wanders, as minds do. Time passes in this book. Things happen. But there is no drama, per se. There is a human during a period of time thinking and feeling things.

Included in the book is an essay entitled “everyone i’ve had sex with,” which was previously published at the Muumuu House website. It contains Boyle’s thoughts and feelings about each of her sexual partners along with facts about the encounter(s). I like the challenge and/or interest it offers the reader. I can imagine a reader who would be annoyed (he/she might ask, “Why write this?!?”, or, “why should I care?!?”; to which I’d respond, “Why are you mad?”). A reader might identify strongly with the ambivalence and vulnerability depicted. It could be quite comforting and wonderful for someone to read. A reader might feel alienated because they have had different experiences or they have different attitudes toward sex.

A variety of readings and responses is a given, but writing about sex, especially an honest account of a person’s entire sexual history with commentary, has a great potential emotional weight. When delivered matter-of-factly, as it is here, the weight is ambiguous, neither asserted nor denied. She seems to be not so much confessing as attempting to tell her truth.

I like this book. The speaker seems lonely and bored and creative and, mostly, stuck in her head. I can relate to that. To return to the beginning, the favorite things to feel.