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In English Kills and Other Poems, Monica Wendel challenges and explores the norms of adulthood. Her speaker, teetering on the edge of marriage and pregnancy, weaves together the real world and the dream world while trying to understand what the future will bring. Calling back to ghosts and long-dead languages, looking forward to the children who floats in dreams, her world is both domestic and urban, beautiful and raw.
Praise for Monica Wendel’s work:
English Kills is a dream that won’t wear off. Using spacious language, Wendel ferries us through the streets of Brooklyn where she explores the most intimate and primitive states of longing. This book is about the soul’s conversation with the self and its discovery of the people and places that matter most.”
– Diana Delgado, author of Tracing the Horse
Monica Wendel questions the boundaries we live in with an electric shock of intimacy. In English Kills, she creates a new language, whose terms include friends and neighbors, bodies of water, cities, experiences, dreams, moral questions, circus performers, and ghosts, all arranged with a skill that reads like intuition. This book glitters with the force of a divination waiting to come to light.
– Elsbeth Pancrazi, author of Full Body Pleasure Suit (Tavern Books, 2017)
I’ve been singing in a dead language
about the sun. The children know
it can come back to life; just ask the Israelis
who made up words they couldn’t find
in the Torah—t-shirt, rainbow.
But rainbow must have been there.
Maybe I’m remembering this wrong.
In my dream, I was on a farm,
presenting a PowerPoint.
One slide was a picture of a mother
kneeling by her child, the other a backyard
abutting the Newton Creek. In real life one of
its branches is called English Kills.
Don’t be alarmed:
Kills was only Dutch for something.
Was it stream. Was it water.
They’re all dead now, those first discoverers.
My mother is scared of the tunnels
the Gazans are building but I am scared
of any prison, no matter how large,
and must always take the side against the guards.
Call it my stubborn calling. She told me once
that language is a river, not a fish tank.
You can never capture all the words.
About Monica Wendel
Monica Wendel is an assistant professor of composition and creative writing at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Her first book, No Apocalypse (Georgetown Review Press), was selected by Bob Hicok as the winner of the Georgetown Review Poetry Manuscript Contest. She holds an MFA from NYU, where she was awarded Goldwater and Starworks teaching fellowships. Her work has appeared in Rattle, Ploughshares, Bellevue Literary Review, and other journals. She lives in New York City.