Dear Selection Committee
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About the Author
In the universe of Melissa Studdard's poems, both the speaker and the audience will always have their cake and eat it too. After all, "Life's never dull when your name's Melissa," and oh my goddess, does Dear Selection Committee serve hard as a brilliant 21st century take and critique of the epistolary, filled with infinite heart and infinite humor and infinite neon signs that point
towards the larger-than-life nature of poetry. This is excess. This is extravagance. This is the definition of sensuality. Studdard has the tremendous gift of finding the center of every poem, giving us the whole damn thing.
"I buried // everything they told me to bury. Then, I dug it up again," Melissa Studdard writes in Dear Selection Committee, an apt description of the work these poems do to unearth the incorrigible self and bury conventionality and its offspring, shame. The speaker revels in her largesse, claiming, in one poem's title, she's "Huge Like King Kong, Like Godzilla, Like Gulliver," and that the "world is my diorama of a world," and in another, that her honeymoon pictures are "the cover / of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass." All of this immensity, this grand unburying, is squeezed into the prosaic corseting structure of a job application, intensifying the split between tame and wild. Even her own birth is enacted with kinetic magnificence: "I broke the kingdom inside her, broke the gala / of horses straining to get out. I broke the dancehall // mirrors and even the gilded faucet handles. / I was a river that strong. Made for flooding." Indeed, these poems are so desirous and animated that they spilled over the edges of the page and into my thirsty soul.
The poems in Dear Selection Committee say what I've always wanted to say in a job application (and what I'm thinking as I perform the role of Normal Job Person) but never had the guts. Melissa Studdard's burn-it-down-radical honesty is elating af-exactly what I needed to read-but the poetic attentiveness, from the first page to the last, was the real thrill. At the heart of the cyclone, a dependable, deepening pulse of self-preservation.
-Jennifer L. Knox