What to Miss When

  • From the Publisher
December 27, 2020

Poems about pop cul­ture, mor­tal­i­ty, and the inter­net, writ­ten dur­ing the Coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic — for read­ers who are more like­ly to dou­ble-tap Instapo­ems than put their phone down long enough to read The Decameron.

Cat­alyzed by shel­ter­ing in place and by a per­son­al chal­lenge to give up alco­hol for thir­ty days, Leigh Stein, the poet lau­re­ate of The Bach­e­lor, has writ­ten a twen­ty-first-cen­tu­ry Decameron to frame mod­ern fables. What to Miss When makes mis­chief of real­i­ty TV and well­ness influ­encers, juicy thought­crimes and love lan­guages, and the mixed mes­sages of con­tem­po­rary feminism.
Think Starlight,” the first poem in this col­lec­tion, writ­ten before any self-quar­an­tine orders, imag­ined the like­li­hood that the Unit­ed States would fol­low in Italy’s foot­steps in terms of case­load and hos­pi­tal over­whelm. By March 17, 2020, the imag­ined was the real: New York City had closed schools, bars, and restau­rants — with the rest of the coun­try close behind.
With nihilist humor and con­trolled despair, What to Miss When explores fears of death and gro­cery shop­ping, stress clean­ing and drink­ing, celebri­ties behav­ing bad­ly, every­thing we took for grant­ed, and life medi­at­ed by screens — with dis­so­ci­a­tion-via-inter­net, and look­ing for mir­rors in a four­teenth-cen­tu­ry pan­dem­ic text, a kind of sur­vival response to liv­ing casu­al­ly through catastrophe.

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