Satan Talks to His Therapist


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Paul Dry Books
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.4 X 0.3 inches | 0.3 pounds

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About the Author

Melissa Balmain is the editor-in-chief of Light, America's longest-running journal of comic verse. Her poems and prose have appeared in such places as The American Bystander, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Ecotone, The Hopkins Review, Lighten Up Online, The New Verse News, Poetry Daily, Rattle, and The Washington Post. Balmain is the author of two previous poetry collections, Walking in on People (chosen by X.J. Kennedy for the Able Muse Book Award) and The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy Tale Reboots for Adults, as well as a travel memoir. A member of the University of Rochester's English Department since 2010, she lives nearby with her husband and (for now) one of their two children. She is a recovering mime.


"It turns out that the literary establishment can't quite kill off humorous poetry. Melissa Balmain's Satan Talks to His Therapist is a marvel in the tradition of Martial, Jonathan Swift, and Dorothy Parker and the more recent generation of poets that includes Wendy Cope, X.J. Kennedy, and R.S. Gwynn. It is poetry you will enjoy--and enjoy giving to a friend who needs to see some humor in a world desperate for the medicine of laughter."
--A.M. Juster, author of Wonder & Wrath

"In one of the wickedly funny poems from Satan Talks to His Therapist, Dorothy Parker's ghost drops in to comment on a political situation. Don't believe it for a second, because if Parker's ghost were to visit a Balmain poem, she would likely set fire to it out of spiteful envy. Melissa Balmain is the once and future Queen of American light verse, and only a ghost could keep from laughing all the way through this marvelous collection."
--Julie Kane, former Louisiana Poet Laureate and author of Mothers of Ireland

"Melissa Balmain's poems use precision without derision. She's a master at the craft of verse--and her incisive wit and rueful intelligence make this book a profound read. This book takes on varied sources of contemporary angst: COVID-19, aging as a woman in a consumer culture, Zoom recitals, and medical mysteries. If the LOLSOB emoji could write verse that both sings and stings, the result would be Satan Talks to His Therapist. Highly recommended for poets and those who think poetry has nothing to do with modern life--Melissa Balmain's poems will make converts of us all."
--Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman

"Like Jonathan Swift, Melissa Balmain is a deft metrist and a delightfully inventive rhymer, whose wit is enriched by a great heart. In Satan Talks to His Therapist, she captures the disorientations of the Age of Trump and COVID-19, satirizing the meanness and sympathizing with the suffering. Though the outstanding poems here are too numerous to list, special treasures include 'On Looking at an MRI Cross-Section, ' the title poem, 'Niagara Overlook, ' and 'Reprieve.'"
--Timothy Steele, author of Toward the Winter Solstice

"Balmain was probably funny straight out of the womb, with a huge internal rhyming dictionary, a fearless vocabulary, a scary gift for hilarious imagery, and instantaneous recognition of, and attraction to, the absurd. But her most valuable gift is easy to miss: it's the capacity to tell the truth, even about the irritating--the even unforgivable!--without the verbal mean streak that normally accompanies humor."
--Rhina P. Espaillat, author of And After All

"I can't convey the essence of Satan Talks to His Therapist; it's Balmain's language itself that captures contemporary idiom like no other poet I know. Parody is one of her specialties: Don't gather rosebuds, she advises--just call 1-800-FLOWERS. For Balmain, words and wit are one."
--Deborah Warren, author of Connoisseurs of Worms


"Melissa Balmain's poems add to the rhythmic bounce of light verse a darker, more cutting humor. The result is an infectious, often hilarious blend of the sweet and the lethal, the charming and the acidic."
--Billy Collins, Former U.S. Poet Laureate

"Poetry these days is rarely so entertaining, so beautifully crafted, so sharp of eye, yet so wise and warm of heart."
--X.J. Kennedy, winner of the Robert Frost Medal

"Melissa Balmain is the finest light poet in America."
--Michael Gerber, editor and publisher of The American Bystander