Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with those affected by generations of structural violence. You can help »

The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2012

All Issues
MAY 2012 Issue

Letters from Robots

Diana Salier
Letters From Robots
(Night Bomb Press, 2012)

When I say Diana Salier’s poetry is really meant for Twitter, I don’t mean it as an insult. There’s like over a hundred million people on Twitter, and if poetry is the practice of yelling at the top of your lungs about what it means to be human (I say it is), why not yell it to a hundred million people instead of 20 at a reading in a bar or at best, a hundred, if you’re lucky and you get someone to publish your book?

Which is not to say you shouldn’t buy Letters From Robots. You should. It’s a great book, full of poems about things you will find highly entertaining like drinking, aliens, love, and the apocalypse. And, as of now, the only way poets get paid is if you buy their books. And like all of us, Diana Salier needs to get paid! But what I am saying is Letters From Robots is best not on pages but when you are hearing it, out loud or over the Internet. This is because Salier works best in short bits, phrases that fall like genius texts that you wish someone would send you during your day at work, or mystery voice messages that you could find blinking on your phone when you come back from the bathroom. I read “this loneliness carries a shotgun / this shotgun high-fives you in the elevator” and while it looks great on a page, I really want to be surprised by it, to come across it not in a book, when I am expecting well-formed sentences and big ideas, but in the middle of the mundane river of information on my newsfeed. An island of humanity. A reminder that I am not the only one screwing up, heartbroken, happy, drunk, hungover, and sad, all at the same time.

What I am saying is that Salier’s work needs a new form that we haven’t quite legitimized yet, but one that I believe is coming (is this the subject of the actual letters from the robots?). What I am saying is that more people need to hear what Diana has to say, not just poets and people who buy poetry books, though hey, you guys, you should hear it too. What I am saying is this: “i’m half naked on the mars rover that’s / your mattress in the first week of spring” is the kind of yelling about what it means to be human that should be amplified and amplified and amplified.

So yes, buy Letters From Robots at your local bookstore, that goes without saying. But follow @dianasalier on Twitter, too.


Lizzy Acker


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2012

All Issues