Meredith Stricker


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Read a 26-page excerpt (PDF)

Mistake sings and stutters a loss in form (or species). Through slips, alignments and contractions, unbound residues return from away—the non-place where we had thoughtlessly cast and abandoned them. Fragments and irreducible bits of ‘reactions’ float through these poems, molten and glowing, disrupting and swelling our shared but dubious internal censors. Their return brings a palpable and contingent charge. They reorganize the shape and content of sense-making, forging brilliant new alliances. In this gorgeous and wide-reaching ensemble, Stricker confronts the uncanny, embracing word flux in order to parse proper nouns. What’s left? A pithy sense-trace of dreams condensed within soul books; leaves rustling, watching, falling from trees. The sound of bees swarming.”

Maria McVarish, architect, artist and visual researcher

Mistake is a brilliant book about reading, particularly about reading events that could be construed as accident or chance. Evolution, environmental disaster: are they error or fate or choice? Stricker ingeniously poses this question through typography and design—themselves forms fabulously open to accident—presenting us with poetic texts whose rough surfaces ‘will not be smoothed out’ in favor of easy answers. If we endure the difficulty of forgoing certain meaning in order to pursue deeper inquiry, then we find ourselves at the threshold of the illegible, the beginning of revelation. That’s exactly ‘where grief drops me / greasy-haired, openmouthed,’ she writes, ‘species skin / contaminant question flecks all over // spit word flux.’ If these pages have, like Orpheus, been torn apart by grief’s passion, then they, too, like Orpheus, come to us mortally wounded and still singing. I love this Mistake. I hope Meredith Stricker makes more of them.”

Brian Teare, author of Pleasure

“In Mistake, Meredith Stricker invents a type of poetic valorization system where accidents, waste, and everything ‘unmarketable’ are transformed into tender and precarious verse, showing, forcefully, the poem’s power to redeem and renew. This is a book for our uncertain and often convoluted time, a map of the whole works, detritus and all, because, as she writes, ‘no other Eden waits for us.’ Stricker is a poet who rejects nothing, writes with clarity, devotion, and verve—‘shards of meat carried off / still singing’—engaging formally with life to reveal its vital substance.”

Denise Newman, author of The New Make Believe

Mistake was the winning manuscript in the 2011 Caketrain Chapbook Competition, as judged by Rosmarie Waldrop.

About the Author

Meredith Stricker is the author of Alphabet Theater, a collection of mixed-media performance poetry from Wesleyan, and Tenderness Shore, from LSU Press, which received the National Poetry Series Award. She works as a poet, designer and artist with visual poetry collaborative, a studio that focuses on architecture in Big Sur and projects to bring together artists, writers, musicians and experimental forms.


Cover image © 2009 Leander Herzog. Used by permission. Earlier versions of series in this work have appeared in Zen Monster and elimae. Text © 2012 Meredith Stricker.