Useful Junk

A master of documentary poetry, Erika Meitner takes up the question of desire and intimacy in her latest collection of poems.

In her newest collection Useful Junk, Meitner explores memory, passion, and the various ways the body sees and is seen. These poems speak to us from parking lots, planes, dreamscapes, and the digital arena to affirm that we are made of every intimate moment we have ever had. Letter poems to a younger poet interspersed throughout the collection question desire itself and consider how digital technologies—sexting, Uber, selfies, Instagram—are reframing self-image and shifting the ratios of risk and reward in erotic encounters.

With dauntless vulnerability, Meitner taps into the metaphysical, the ekphrastic, the sensual, and the ordinary moments of life, remaining porous and open to the world, and always returning to the desires rooted deep within the self as a way forward in a damaged world. Boldly asserting that pleasure is a vital form of knowledge, Useful Junk reminds us that our selves are made real and beautiful by our embodied experiences, and that our desire is what keeps us alive.