by Nicolle Elizabeth
Blog Posts from an American Poet
Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee
(Muumuu House, 2011)
Muumuu House, purveyor of relevant, artful, interesting literature, has published a book of poetry composed of blog posts by Megan Boyle. This work is terrifyingly open, daringly honest, and elegantly innovative in its sparse use of words. When Muumuu House contacted me about a possible review, I decided I wanted to ask Megan about the controversial title. I wrote to her by e-mail.
Nicolle Elizabeth (Rail): Megan Boyle. Are these actually blog posts by a Mexican Panda Express employee in your book, as the title suggests? Are you that employee, or were they written by someone else?
Megan Boyle: They’re mostly unpublished blog posts of mine. Originally it was just going to be titled “selected unpublished blog posts.” I forget the chain of events leading up to this, but I remember being in my car and either Tao or I said I should add “...of a mexican panda express employee” to the end. He kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to call it that and I kept saying I did. I like that though, I feel like I could be anybody. I don’t think my thoughts or experiences are unique enough to separate me from the humanmrace or something. I've never been a Panda Express employee.
Rail: Why “Mexican,” though? Where’d it come from? Why not Croatian? Is this a commentary on ethnicities? Is it not, and you just liked the word “Mexican” from an art standpoint?
Boyle: When I think “Mexico” or “Mexicans” my stomach feels similar to the way it does when I'm hiding and watching someone before surprising them. I want to go to Mexico. I’m pretty sure my first exposure to Mexico was from the movie E.T.—I must have been really young. There’s this part where Drew Barrymore says something like, “What's Mexico?” to her mom, and her mom looks into the distance and says “He hates Mexico” and no one brings it up again and about an hour later the movie ends. Before I knew Mexico was a country I thought it was something you could say to your mom to make her look dreamy and bewildered. Maybe that’s how “Mexico is an Interesting Concept” originated in my brain. The book isn’t intended to be a commentary on ethnicity or nationality or social issues; I don’t have anything new to say about those things. I’d feel more interested in reading The Once and Future Mexican Panda Express Employee, or Brief Interviews with Hideous Mexican Panda Express Employees if that’s what those books were titled too…
From the blog post “3.27.10”:
…seems like there is an algorithm for how i interact with people. the algorithm does something like 'ask weird questions and try to make everything funny but also convey that you are intelligent and capable of empathy, do this by moving your eyebrows and mouth and nodding your head sometimes…
Boyle’s work has a vulnerability to it that at times is incredibly painful to read—some of the thoughts written down by the author are so willingly expressed, thoughts many would not dare to reveal. As is often the case with the publications of Muumuu House, Selected Unpublished Blog Posts… is a signifier of a very specific way of relevant generational storytelling.
From the blog post “2.16.09”:
i imagined rolling down my window and saying “what's going on guys, can i party with you guys?” and wondered what it would realistically be like to party with them. we would probably get forties and hang out in someone’s basement and it would be an okay time. i almost wish I would have done that.
The complexities within Megan Boyle’s minimalist approach are startling, and read as possibly a little masochistic. Selected Unpublished Blog Posts… is a blunt work that challenges the reader, dares the reader to find out what this woman has on her mind. Boyle exhibits a generous exhibitionist quality that leaves one wondering if she might be the next Laurie Anderson.