Katy Lederer is back with an uncanny, deeply intelligent series of poems. The Engineers reverse-engineers the natural and unnatural history of our species, our bodies, from parturition to extinction. These themes may sound familiar, but Lederer approaches them from a unique angle, one where the scientific meets the eerie. Here, phantom limbs and vanishing twins abound, yet everything is somehow recognizable. We’ve been here before and now we know the place. The Engineers is that rare thing: ambitious and fully achieved.
At times suggesting parallels between gestation and thought experiment, Katy Lederer’s poems in The Engineers are eclectic bodies composed of slant rhymes and arresting images. There’s resolute attention to the word-to-word landscapes the poems make tangible (legible), be it the possible connection between etymological origins (the long-lost sibling) or the absent/present hauntological in vowels silent until now. Lederer’s texts invite us to be taken up in the spiral, the spin of attraction between technology and poetic invention. Read these poems and fall under the spell.
Technically rigorous and achingly heartfelt, Katy Lederer’s The Engineers imagines the body’s journeys at the cellular level, engineering an exciting new interior sublime. Yoking unlikely elements together—cosmology and sutures, ghosts and forceps, autophagy and love—this collection never digresses; rather it compounds its points, bridging the overwhelms that language is so often unable to address. “The moon is like a heaven or a mother or an open wound,” writes Lederer in “Inflammation,” one of the many major poems in this book. How we like and heed these poems; how they see and seed the discourse of our hyper-engineered, emerging moment.
Katy Lederer’s The Engineers is an utterly original collection of poems that meditates on our posthuman future. The collective voice in The Engineers is sibylline, incandescent, and unearthly, spanning the biological, machinic, and virtual. The poems will get under your skin. I love this book.