There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House, 2017)
“Outstanding collection of poems. So much soul. So much intelligence in how Parker folds in cultural references and the experiences of black womanhood. Every poem will get its hooks into you. And of course, the poems about Beyoncé are the greatest because Beyoncé is our queen.”
"Art hurts," wrote poet Gwendolyn Brooks. "Art urges voyages." Morgan Parker's poems hurt deeply and voyage widely. They do not let you sit comfortably and idly and safe, but take you on an adventure like no other. Like the "Fantastic Voyage" promised by R&B legends Lakeside, Parker's work is "live, live, all the way live." Get on board this trip; it is like no other.
There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé in these pages because, as Morgan Parker writes in poems channeling the president’s wife, the Venus Hottentot and multiple Beyoncés, “we’re everyone. We have ideas and vaginas, history and clothes and a mother.” The kind of verve the late New York school Ted Berrigan would have called “feminine marvelous and tough” is here, as well as the kind of vulnerability that fortifies genuine daring. This is a marvelous book. See for yourself. Morgan Parker is a fearlessly forward and forward-thinking literary star.
Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night (Switchback Books, 2015)
Honesty, says one of Morgan Parker’s speakers, “is uncomfortable and funny.” And how apt, how acrobatic and unflinching, Parker is in bearing this thesis out. Her work roves the surfaces of our American lives—gathering up material from reality TV, from the many products we consume and are shaped by, from the sound of America in our mouths and the racket of it in our ears. These poems are delightful in their playful ability to rake through our contemporary moment in search of all manner of riches, just as they are devastating in their ability to remind us of what we look like when nobody’s watching, and of what the many things we don’t—or can’t—say add up to. Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night is hilarious and hard-hitting, and it ripples with energy, insight and searing music.
-Tracy K. Smith
I can and have read Morgan Parker’s poems over and over. They make me high and think like this: “Her mind & her thoughts can go anywhere in a poem. She pulls us up short, and when she says “the sky the sky,” I feel that expanse... I start taking notes: “She is making a map of what human can be...she’s raucous and engaged... indeterminate, visceral...collisions... these are full adventures in scale…” Morgan Parker’s both intellectual and concerned. Where sentences come from (in me) breaks down when I read these poems. There are piles of masterpieces here. “I’m Not Like the King of Black People,” to point you to one. She writes history and pleasure & kitsch and abstraction then vanishes like a god in about 13 inches and I mean that is really cool.
I love these poems by Morgan Parker. They tell everything exactly like it is, and they don’t let us off the hook-- about how we run this country, about race, about how we spend our time. They treat our private, public and online lives with all the love and scorn they deserve. They hit you with the authority and moral clarity of Langston Hughes, and have the omnivorous eye of Frank O'Hara. They have a New York School sensibility, but it’s a new New York – a more polarized, unequal and privileged New York. These poems are also just beautiful. You will want to say them to yourselves.