Raw and focused disillusionment. A longing for a definable existence within the mundane. Heartaches tacked with pushpins. From all of this, with unexpected play with syntax, a defiance towards traditional form, and tactile and terse imagery, Meghan Privitello creates a playing field where she volleys ideas of love, loss, relationships, and the self. Within the boxed-in boundaries of fixed margins, the poet’s search for a new language is a way to re/define her heart and explore her own humanity.
In poems such as “Active Drowning,” “Manifest,” “Interpretation,” and “Too Late,” she exposes blind spots within herself and has a distinct way of illustrating what has left the room. There is a humility of the self in her poems which creates a vacancy that she is longing to fill, trying to fill with a new language if nothing more. Often, she lets in a crack of light to reveal what is behind the empty room, if only to reveal more darkness and despair. Even though at times Privitello exposes, at best, a fraudulent landscape of the disparity of the self, it is within these emotional juxtapositions that her personal perspective of her own humanity is put forth:
Gill-less and guileless, how long could we live
together in the sea, never knowing when we’ve
gone too deep?
Sometimes I am so small my obituary starts
and ends with she.
Windows and tongues are meant for keeping
secrets. I’ve gone pale waiting to hear the
truth about my own nipples in comparison
to a queen’s.
Inside myself, I am shelves of plungers
and plastic pots, never knowing whether
to suck the life out of something or
shove it in a container to watch it grow.
Secrets. Acceptance of the vacancy of knowing. The privilege and burden of the imagination. A New Language for Falling Out of Love encompasses all of the meat of trying to know one’s self. Think of each poem being tossed down the throat like a burning shot of whiskey. In the drinking, the poems become a little drunk on themselves, bouncing up against the walls of the form, spiraling downward in questionable tangents; they become little secrets kept in salt bubbles that refuse to quench a thirst. Each new poem, another drink, another search for something new to see, feel, conquer. Each new poem another new language spilling out unapologetically, urgently trying to reach the final drunken word, offering up more new language in every exhale:
When I go to bed with men, I dress as
a tiger. I show them my teeth as if
they’ve never seen a dying star. I
hold them down until they have no
excuse for their small hands, until
they know a woman who runs as fast as
the cats is the opposite of love.
The thing I told you underneath the
covers that sparked your interest is
still afraid to die.
There is a trap door beneath every
god which means it is endless, which
means What if it never ends.
A New Language for Falling out of Love is about everything we think about and some things we don’t. In the way it calls on the obvious and the domestic to stimulate our abstract ideas about love, loss, loneliness and identity, Privitello seems to write about what matters to herself, to us, to anything that cares to listen.