Susan Wheeler is the author of the poetry collections Bag ‘o’ Diamonds, which received the Norma Farber First Book Award of the Poetry Society of America; Smokes, which won the Four Way Books Award; Source Codes; Ledger, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; and Assorted Poems. Her novel, Record Palace, was published in 2005. She teaches at Princeton University, where she also directs the Creative Writing Program. (Author photo by Frank Wojeiechowski)
"In Meme, the traditional elegy dissolves into excited bursts of imitated idiomatic speech interwoven with writing from a different register—the coolly removed, self-insightful lyric. That the elaborately constructed edifice that is personality can be reconstructed with such fascinating economy and delightful indirection is amazing. These poems are pure poetic genius."
—Mary Jo Bang
"Meme is a haunted work. We are ushered in by the disembodied voice of a mother figure, scolding and teasing in the time-stamped slang of past decades. The anachronism is both funny and terribly sad. 'Don't come in here all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,' the voice says. And it turns out that's fair warning. This cracked Virgil leads us into a consciously Dantean underworld ('Had you entered the thicket in darkness / . . . Had you been mid-life, not in haze but in crisis?'). Wheeler has created a total (and to me terrifying) linguistic environment in which hell is the introjected voices of other people, the hungry ghosts of our recent past."
University of Iowa Press