“Don’t be alarmed,” Monica Wendel assures us about her provocative title —English Kills is just the name the Dutch gave to a local stream. But in fact, we are alarmed. In her world, ideas have consequences. People take drugs and turn themselves into music to escape desperate lives. Shrimp lie on a plate like “tendoned larvae.” In her world, civic pride and genocide are like two flags on the same ship. Threat is everywhere. But thankfully, there’s a way out of the nightmare. We can, she says, leave our worst selves behind and move on to a place where “rains water even dead languages.”
The logic that holds English Kills together is uniquely its own, but the Ovid of Metamorphoses would have recognized it.
— PAUL SCOTT STANFIELD, Ploughshares
With English Kills, Wendel doesn’t invite you into her world and describe it to you in poetic form. Rather, from the opening verses of this rich, mature, charmingly restless collection, you find yourself already wrapped up in the sticky midst of her creative realm aware of her associative fluidity between objects and sentiments, of her people and their quirks, of her places and their placelessness, of her language and its looseness, of the oneiric levity she grants even the heaviest of events, and of her certain inner emptiness that can only be filled by the most mundanely baffling of miracles.