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Available at and Ingram

Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer

Author photo: Ada Donnelly

$18  |  ISBN: 978-1-936919-88-8

Poetry  l  Perfectbound  |  112 pages  |  Feb 22, 2022


When Bad Things Happen to Good People


You can only hear you look like a hooker so many times
before you become one. Spandex was really big


the year I stopped believing.
I babysat for the rabbi’s son, Isaac. There was luxe carpet


in every room of the condo. Isaac liked Legos
and we made a pasture and a patriarch and lots of wives.


In his car in his garage the rabbi handed me a self-help book
and put my hand on his crotch, ready to go.


I didn’t care.
I made good money.


Isaac lived to be 180 according to the bible.
Isaac is the only patriarch who didn’t have concubines.


Isaac is 30 now. Modern scholarship tells us


the patriarchs never existed. Survival has taught me
the patriarchs are what we’ve got.





SKU: 2201001
  • Now Available!

    Winner, Julie Suk Award


    Finalist, National Jewish Book Award


    Featured in “7 Feminist Poetry Collections About Gender and Identity” at Electric Lit


    "With her signature wit and candor, Melnick reckons with a history of misogyny and anti-Semitism, war and atrocity, sexual and domestic violence, myriad abuses of power—and yet there is humor and hopefulness in her voice, a perpetual sense of discovery." —Electric Lit

    “Readers will find Melnick’s voice a welcome presence that never shies away from the pain and beauty that life brings” —Publishers Weekly

  • Praise for Lynn Melnick's work:

    “Fierce.” Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal


    “Melnick’s is the rare kind of poetry that reads like a page-turner; I read it in one sitting and then read it again, and in the end I felt both angry and tender, and more alive.” Shelly Oria,  BOMB

  • About Refusenik

    In this searing new volume, Lynn Melnick dives head-first through concentric waves of personal and generational trauma with her trademark fearlessness. Evincing a complex mind shaped by the late 20th century’s misplaced priorities, Refusenik interrogates misogyny and anti-Semitism across time and a shifting global landscape—from a football field in Los Angeles to a Russian shtetl to a beloved daughter’s Brooklyn bedroom. Variously unraveling and allowing for intricate tangles of anger, nostalgia and love, these agile poems furrow deeper into the terrain of Melnick’s much-celebrated earlier titles, arriving at a profound and pressured understanding of what it means to be a contemporary American.

  • About Lynn Melnick

    LYNN MELNICK is the author of the memoir I’ve Had to Think Up a Way to Survive: On Trauma, Persistence, and Dolly Parton (University of Texas Press, 2022). She is also the author of three poetry collections: Refusenik (2022) winner of the Julie Suk Award and finalist for the Berru Award in Poetry from the Jewish Book Council, Landscape with Sex and Violence (2017), and If I Should Say I Have Hope (2012), all with YesYes Books, and the coeditor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation (Viking, 2015).

YesYes Books
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