Poems about pop culture, mortality, and the internet, written during the Coronavirus pandemic—for readers who are more likely to double-tap Instapoems than put their phone down long enough to read The Decameron.
Catalyzed by sheltering in place and by a personal challenge to give up alcohol for thirty days, Leigh Stein, the poet laureate of The Bachelor
, has written a twenty-first-century Decameron
to frame modern fables. What to Miss When
makes mischief of reality TV and wellness influencers, juicy thoughtcrimes and love languages, and the mixed messages of contemporary feminism.
“Think Starlight,” the first poem in this collection, written before any self-quarantine orders, imagined the likelihood that the United States would follow in Italy’s footsteps in terms of caseload and hospital overwhelm. By March 17, 2020, the imagined was the real
: New York City had closed schools, bars, and restaurants—with the rest of the country close behind.
With nihilist humor and controlled despair, What to Miss When
explores fears of death and grocery shopping, stress cleaning and drinking, celebrities behaving badly, everything we took for granted, and life mediated by screens—with dissociation-via-internet, and looking for mirrors in a fourteenth-century pandemic text, a kind of survival response to living casually through catastrophe.