Available at YesYesBooks.com 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.
Finalist, Berru Award in Poetry, Jewish Book Council
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
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 poetry collections Refusenik (2022), 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). I’ve Had to Think Up a Way to Survive: On Trauma, Persistence, and Dolly Parton is forthcoming from University of Texas Press in 2022.