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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - Poetry New Titles

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ISBN: 9781734691153
Binding: Paperback
Author: R/B Mertz
Pages: 102
Trim: 7 x 9 inches
Published: 05/15/2024

What binds these poems together is a desire to speak what goes unspoken. To reply into the void of empire and late capitalism with a howl of authenticity, not trying to separate parts of the self or parts of the culture, but to exist in all of it at once. This book is a portrait of survival through speech, story, politics, celebrity/star gazing, TV, and all forms of popular music. These poems engage with "Western tradition" and its unraveling, focusing on an economically insecure adjunct life in Pittsburgh, PA which is—against all odds—interrupted by love that entails moving to a safer country. These poems exist in conversation with the author's conservative Catholic upbringing, anti-imperialist and anti-racist politics, and poets ranging from Sappho to Elizabeth Bishop to Eazy-E. The poems inhabit a world where John Wayne stars in Manhattan and Rush Limbaugh stars in Boys Don't Cry, with elegies to Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner, finally culminating in a finale where the author rewrites (or translates, or reboots, or "covers") T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (with a little help from Cyndi Lauper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer).


R/B Mertz (they/them) is a trans/non-binary butch poet and artist. They were raised inside Catholic fundamentalism, about which they wrote the memoir Burning Butch (Unnamed Press, 2022), which was a finalist for Memoir Magazine's Best Memoir Grand Prize. They also wrote the essay, "How Whiteness Kills God & Sprinkles Crack on the Body"; (Mistress Syndrome) and the play "Where the Heart Is" (Another Chicago Magazine). Mertz taught writing in Pittsburgh for eleven years and was honored to be a finalist for City of Asylum's 2020-21 Emerging Poet Laureate of Pittsburgh. On January 1, 2021, Mertz left the US for love, and they now reside in Toronto, Ontario, traditionally the territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. They teach writing at Sheridan College.


"This book is visceral and cutting, vulnerable and brave. Throughout, Mertz explores the 'deep breaks' caused by transphobia, racism, and other forms of American violence. At the same time, they celebrate the joy, pleasure, and other 'flickers / of light that come through / the cracks.' Each page feels like a transition towards a multitude of voices that proclaim: 'we are not / leaving, we are not giving up this garden.'" - Craig Santos Perez

"R/B's debut poetry collection, CU T, has the kind of motion poets and readers of poetry live for: running our eyes down the page quickly, but carefully, so that I can touch the next line while still feeling the fleshy bits of the last. This book is for them and for us, for any of us who know that 'the blueprint of your body' is not who you are and the pain that lingers underneath, even under scars, will always show through. Being lost in this beautiful book makes me grateful to be alive in such a trying time." - Rachelle Escamilla

"This astonishing poetry debut by R/B Mertz is not something you read and forget. At the quietest, most unexpected moments, you can feel these poems riding over the tracks they laid across your body. 'Edge of human & / seasonal ex- / ploitation,' yes, poetry that knits into our DNA." - CAConrad