No Tell Books

The Myth of the Simple Machines

by Laurel Snyder



ISBN: 978-0-6151-6132-7
Publication Date: October, 2007
82 pages
$15

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What People are Saying about The Myth of the Simple Machines:

"The beauty of a simple machine is its ability to accomplish something extraordinary simply: a pen, say, some paper, and the capacity to leap headfirst into the realm of the imagination. Laurel Snyder’s verse is a simple machine in itself, and this collection finds the author combining playful syntax, simple, direct language and a few ethereal prose poems to create a sum that is as profound as its component poems."

— Sally Franson at The L Magazine, read entire review here

"The Myth of the Simple Machines is from that wonderful world where poetry intersects with storytelling. And as Laurel Snyder shows, it’s a world of endless possibility, myth, truth, and reward."

— Nate Slawson at Luna, read entire review here

The gorgeous simplicity of Laurel Snyder's language makes all the possibilities—and the impossibility—of living stand out starkly. Her machines are thought machines, memory machines, the machines of false and daily logic, and we recognize them all. And, of course, they don't work this time either, but Snyder has found the poignancy in this, and more than that, she has found its meaning. A startling and touching book.
— Cole Swensen


Good poetry begins in deep crisis, that awful pivot between opposite possibilities, death or life, not-self or self, no world or world. Laurel Snyder’s Myth occupies the realm of, and the consequence of, such crisis. We move from a girl falling inside a falling sky, a girl who lives in corners, a girl the wolf chases, to a woman who steps into the middle of the room, into the city, bears a child, contemplates the same God whose voice she speaks. And here, generously, crisis does not lead to negation—it leads to dream, to nights in which the world is at hand, not a finished product, but an ongoing creation in which the poet plays her joyful, playful part.
— Dan Beachy-Quick


There's nothing simplified about Laurel Snyder's The Myth of Simple Machines; "the girl" we encounter in so many of these poems is a kind of Everyman who struggles to make sense of the world's mysteries, and in doing so helps the reader see the world freshly. Sometimes by using tight, lyric lines, and sometimes by using dreamy prose poems, Snyder's skittery syntax interrogates the sentence. She suspends us in the realm of delicious dis-ease, where meaning multiplies, where poetry happens. This is a wonderful book, and, as the speaker of "Glass" writes, "Like it or not, this is for you, / so pay attention."
— Beth Ann Fennelly


Pointed and posed, these poems align like shoebox dioramas on the classroom window ledge. Snyder presents us with puzzles without answers, word problems that never advance to their solutions but invite us to dwell in their predicaments, fat with intrigue. It’s as if class were being taught not by the weary schoolmarm but by the curious girl at the next desk with her signifying pigtails and lunchbox full of enviable toys.
— Joyelle McSweeney



The Answer to the Puzzle

The answer to the puzzle
is the mauled bird on the sidewalk,
and the feathers.

The answer to the puzzle
is that things keep getting less lovely,
but more interesting.

When the girl falls
through the air from the top
of a very tall building,

she sees everything
rush past her in great detail
but with little promise.

Onlookers see, “Some girl
cutting through the air
like a knife cuts through water.”

They gasp and say, “How terrible.
That poor girl. It’s just awful.”
And it really is. A moment.