You Can't Pick Your Genre by Emily O'Neill
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Interview at Maudlin House
These poems are not tropes, but triumphs. Instead of running up the stairs, they are charging towards the killer and digging a pair of scissors through the eyehole of his shitty patriarchal creep mask. In this little book, Emily O'Neill reminds us that violence doesn't always get a genre, but it often gets revenge(d).
—Mark Cugini, author of I'm Just Happy to Be Here (ink press 2014) & Good Ass Job (2016)
I have walked in the cemetery with Emily O'Neill. I have walked in the cemetery with You Can't Pick Your Genre. To mourn the bleeding girl. To party with her bold heart / to deeply listen to it. "Climb to the roof. Look down / on what we're losing. / What we never dead- / bolted. The safety we can't / keep permanently safe." The intricate lace or speaking of the bleeding girl insists on a complexity the world refuses to give her, that you refuse to give her. She, unimaginable, / She, an entertainment, / She, a perfection, / She, a pity, / She, indestructible, faces the killer / the men who congratulate themselves for hiding it so well, the bodies they follow and tug on and hurl and bruise. "There's power here. Look away." The bleeding girl. We mourn her / We share our blood with her / We celebrate her as she faces the killer / the men as she exposes their ugly / fear, as she refuses to be a plot point, as she lives unignored / and various.
—Carrie Lorig, author of The Pulp Vs. The Throne
The poems in Emily O'Neill's You Can't Pick Your Genre endure. They riot. These poems are shining echoes from the Scream film series, but they are also warnings, testimonials, declarations. Emily O'Neill tells us, "Watch how practiced / you are, letting him practice desire on your disinterest." O'Neill re-renders the split-open bodies of women in horror films as testimonials of survival. Each poem is a reclamation, a rebirth, pulling the audience through the horror of how it feels to be acted upon as an object at a story's center. Each howling voice tells the reader, I am still here and I can never be killed.
Emily O'Neill was born on the bedroom floor of her mother's childhood home and has been making loud messes ever since. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Cutbank, The Journal, Palaver, Redivider, Washington Square, and Whiskey Island, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books' Pamet River Prize. She is also the author of two chapbooks: Celeris (Fog Machine, 2016) and You Can't Pick Your Genre (Jellyfish Highway, 2016). She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.