A Thousand Profane Pieces
A Thousand Profane Pieces is a first-hand tour through the world of today’s woman, for whom desire is no longer a dirty word. With humour and intelligence, Wallin’s poems explore where the sensual woman has been and where she’s going. If Candace Bushnell wrote poetry, these are the kind of poems she would write.
Wallin’s book is exhilarating: a dollop of sugar-coated acid. It’s subtitle should be, Love and the Older, Single Woman: The persona has been hurt, has snapped back, but vows her vulnerability. The pink-and-black, lady-as Catwoman cover is just right: there’s cattiness, meowing, and hissing here. The tone? Ms. Sylvia Plath Atwood: Satire and Cynicism for the Discriminating Reader… Wallin’s wit exudes wisdom and wrath. Perfect.
A Thousand Profane Pieces is an observant collection whose speakers are both victims and expert practitioners of superficiality. Their inner realities exist in tension with all sorts of surfaces: pop archetypes, denial, perceived expectations, and the glossy presentation of power. Wallin has given us a book full of high heels, red nails and ‘Obvious hunger but/ we’ll die before we admit.
A Thousand Profane Pieces, by Myna Wallin (Tightrope, 2006; $14.95). An early Taddle Creek contributor, from the magazine’s Annex years, Myna Wallin has been churning out the chapbooks for some time now. Here at last, her debut collection a sexy new book of poems from a sexy new publishing house.
A Thousand Profane Pieces opens with the striking “Trophy Poets,” an interesting role reversal where women are objectified based on their intellect as opposed to their beauty. The poem makes note of intellect as a desired quality, one that wealthy men make clumsy attempts to share: “Some of these bankers have poetic aspirations: when they bring / a sonnet or haiku to the table the romance is dead.” For Wallin, stereotypes are constructed to be broken, inverted, or have new life breathed into them.
Wallin is as any poet should be, the observer of things too painful and exquisite to paint in prose, her raw voice screams: “take me, with all my / unmet expectations, overblown desires, / & make me scream. Overwhelm my / intellectualized craving to be loved.” Combining what she knows with what she’s learned and feels, her perspective reaches all corners of the human psyche. Wallin’s gift is an ability to talk for us, of our unspoken horrors, her voice more pure than jaded, unsullied and seeking higher reaches. She is unnervingly accurate about humanity and also a sensual tour-de-force of our plunder into addiction, passion and the eloquent play of generational, universal anxiety: ‘I want to be one of these women-in-control, / But I was born too early– / never mastered ‘walk the dog’ on my yo-yo.
This volatile collection continues Myna Wallin’s search for being in a world increasingly closeness-challenged, a place where ‘Postmodernism flau(n)ts the medium/ruptures contingent reality’. Following on several successful chapbook debuts, A Thousand Profane Pieces further explores this most venturesome poet’s wit, soul and passion as she appraises the world in her singularly shrewd, erotic-tinged style. On every page, we swing to strophes of elegance; ‘like an Escher drawing,/down and up/a winding staircase that ended/& began on a four-tiered wedding cake.
Dark, sensual, sexy and hot. These are a few words I would use to describe the first book of poetry by Myna Wallin, but a few are not enough. 75 pages long, and purse size, this book travelled with me on the subway, during my rush hour tours from work to home and back again. I’m glad it was in my purse. This book is cleverly broken into four chapters. In the Throes, Casting Call, Off Limits and An Ariel View. Each chapter as profound as the one before it. One of my favourite poems is Screen Vixen. Every little girl dreams of being one and Myna has put into perfect words those hidden emotions. My next favourite is the fantasy of Secret Lives and the very classy Even Diva’s Get the Blues. Pick up A Thousand Profane Pieces and put it in your purse or knapsack and have it handy for those long tedious subway rides. It’s a nice escape.
Myna Wallin is no female ‘trophy poet,’ no poet of the type she sends up in one of the poems (“Trophy Poets”) in this highly affecting, highly insightful collection. Smart but uninterested in cleverness for its own sake or pseudo-intellectualism, instead she’s genuinely and deliciously (and sometimes scathingly) quick-witted and satirical, and always with a clear eye on bottom-lines of adult experience. Her takes on the dating game, romance and commitment, reaching forty, social interaction between the genders, and pop images of both women and men are often nothing less than extremely funny and wickedly entertaining. But don’t be fooled by Wallin’s flair for comedy; her writing’s informed by a passion that underlies every one of these “profane pieces.” It’s that honest, that full of feeling, and crisp, subtle word-handling, we don’t want the collection to end.