I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl

The title of Karyna McGlynn's second book of poems sets the reader up for the criminal impulses and the trips to the recent past that permeate the book. McGlynn's poems are scenes of violence and crime, each presented through a different perspective or voice. Although not generally graphic, they capture the kind of fear a teenager might feel when sneaking out of the house has spiraled into something much more dangerous. Many are written in two or three columns that can be read vertically, or, for a more abstract experience, horizontally. Thus, McGlynn captures different layers of observation: the narrative line and the staccato of reaction. These unnerving poems leave room for humor and a more gentle sense of nostalgia, but they also display how crime and violence can fracture self and time. In her foreword to the book, Lynn Emanuel writes, "no matter which life, body, or landscape one lands in, all exist on a shared bedrock of violence and suffering, albeit one presided over by a glittering imagination."

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.