Cover Image: Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night

Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night

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Member Reviews

Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night is a collection that launched the career of young poet Morgan Parker. Is it hilarious? At times. Hard-hitting? It can be. Personal and political? Yes. And it is a definitely a collection of poems with truths that deliver. Morgan Parker got in the zone with this debut collection. Well done!

Happy Re-Pub Day, Morgan Parker! Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night is now available.

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I use these words to distract you 

Morgan Parker’s, Other People’s Comfort Keep Me Up At Night is her debut collection of poetry that is everything contemporary, insightful, and commanding. Here, in this reissue, Parker highlights several previously published pieces that for me do not disappointment. 

There are poems that are lyrical, thoughtful, and explore grief and anxiety. There are also those that are light, reflective and utterly HUMOROUS. 

I have become a true fan of Parker’s collections and look forward to her future work.
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Morgan Parker’s reissued poetry collection 𝗢𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗣𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽𝘀 𝗠𝗲 𝗨𝗽 𝗮𝘁 𝗡𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 is definitely one that stimulates and disturbs your sense of moral clarity about the world that betrays us all. Back in print, this collection reminds of us how raw, gutter, and visceral Parker’s poems pierce through our psyches and literally shows us the things we are afraid to finally see.  These poems take us on a carousel of emotions—depending on the ride—you may need to get off sooner than others.  It really just depends on your comfort level.

𝗢𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗣𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽𝘀 𝗠𝗲 𝗨𝗽 𝗮𝘁 𝗡𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 is not an easy read for me.  I struggled here immensely trying to disentangle its abstract and encumbered language--often rereading two to three times and reading aloud. While each poem was not that way, I did find pleasure in her elaborate and skilled metaphors, dark humor, critiques on race and politics, and sharp authority on pop culture. I enjoyed three poems specifically because they showcase her raw and real “straight no-chaser” personality:

⭐️ “Miss Black America”
⭐️ “Young, Sassy, and Black”
⭐️ “Their Grandmothers Never Did the Laundry”

Perhaps, I could also find some growth or difference in her other collections 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗔𝗿𝗲 𝗠𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗕𝗲𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗕𝗲𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲 or 𝗠𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗼 that would appeal to my preferred poetic styles.  Nonetheless, there are some beautiful gems here for readers that require either joy/entertainment or a salve to their suffering.  

𝗢𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗣𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽𝘀 𝗠𝗲 𝗨𝗽 𝗮𝘁 𝗡𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 is out today. Please pick up a copy and stay up all night reading.  Thanks @tin_house for my review copy!
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I'm a fan of Morgan Parker's work but hadn't read her debut collection. I really enjoyed this repub, especially with the introduction from Danez Smith! Parker's poetry is so precise and visceral; every phrase has so much to explore. I especially love the way she integrates pop culture and uses contemporary media as a lens to view herself. This is great work by an artist changing the landscape of poetry.
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This was a good read. The poetry was different for me but that’s what I really liked and enjoyed. I would describe the poverty to be eclectic and touching. It was filled with a lot of emotion.
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Review by Jim Esch for West Trade Review.

It is safe to say we are at the point where poet Morgan Parker needs little introduction. Winning a National Book Critics Circle Award will do that for a writer. Even before her 2019 collection Magical Negro won the award, literati were taking notice of her 2017 book There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé. Terence Hayes affirmed Parker as a “forward-thinking literary star.” The aforementioned books were issued by Tin House, and now the publisher has seen fit to re-introduce readers to Parker’s first poetry collection, Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night (originally published by Switchback Books in 2015). The reissue includes a new cover and new introduction by Danez Smith. 

Morgan Parker’s debut collection arrived with her bristling voice fully formed. Candid, smart, funny, it navigates confessional and political modalities with aplomb. It is the kind of poetry that keeps readers on their toes, sparring with her bob and weave style, her lines leaping out like quick, stinging jabs. 

At the heart of the arresting collection are explorations of black identity, stereotypes, and the implacable residue of tradition. “I’m Not The King of Black People” feels like a keystone piece in this regard. In “White Walls, White People”, Parker uses an art gallery setting and metaphors of “looking” to portray how race relations are never not being performed, even in contexts that pretend to ignore them. The micro aggressions described in “The Grandmothers Never Did the Laundry” disclose a racism that is always lurking. In “Epistolary Poem For Reader, Brother, Grandmother, Men (Or, When I Say I Want To Spit You Up)” Parker’s woven strings of seemingly isolated observations and speculations build to a powerful crescendo:

Maybe if I knew my grandmother
and the white family she worked for
I would feel different
about everything around me.

Instead I can only describe half
of the view outside the kitchen window.
Brown curtains are covering
the other half and I don’t mind it.

The past has not been as rewarding
as I had hoped.

Instead it feels
like something dark and hard is back there.
I spit it up
like a stringy peach. 

The poems hinge on striking juxtapositions of unexpected images that infuse new drama into what might otherwise become stale tropes. In “The World Is Beautiful But You Are Not In It”, the “missing a loved one” theme feels strangely luminous:

Ladies will say we are expert with machines
but they will be under two pitchers of sangria
I said you could make music out of this.
Ingesting artificial palm trees, exploding. 
Your letters are getting shorter. I am getting close
enough to the sun to touch the tip of its cigar.

You could call this confessional poetry, cut from the mold of giants like Sexton, Berryman, Plath, et. al. but confessional doesn’t quite nail what Parker achieves here. The personal is also constantly aware of social and political consciousness, even when that subtext is muted. It’s as if world and speaker form a dialectical bond. Larger than life problems tangle with the personal:  

…what you don’t know is
I envy this world and I want to save it
squeeze its bloodied hand like so 
saying this will only sting for a minute 
(from “There Are Other Things I Want To Explain But They Are Mysteries”)

Stylistically, Parker’s concise lines, fast cuts, and enjambments deliver her spicy, arch wit in small packages. The titles deserve a shout out, too. They do not mince words. “If My Housemate Fucks With Me I Would Get So Real (Audition Tape Take 1)” and “How To Piss In Public And Maintain Femininity”, offer sardonic yet endearing gateways; they lure us in, and then the condensed lines set to work delivering wincing blows:

In Africa this man 
is a lawyer
but here
he sells records
on the street (16).
(from “Face Cathedral”)

At times, stanzas lean towards the cryptic and opaque, but the apparent chaos is more of a feint. The incoming images and rhetorical flourishes open a space for her voice to lift off. 

Careful with that 
face of yours: You know
this weather
is my fault.
Trains get lost, roads flood
worry and charcoal.
better duck. 
(From “Morgan What, Morgan Who?”)

She uses bold metaphors to push what is familiar past our comfort zone into something freshly awakened: 
We go downstairs 
brush from our necks a smell 
like honey burned in the bottom of a pan.
[From “The Housecleaners, Early Wednesday Morning Downtown (after Gwendolyn)]

It is as if she would rather not get too cozy in a conventional poetic territory and instead posits an aesthetic of refusal to play by others’ rules. 

We expect a poet’s first book to draw on a well of influences, and I do pick up echoes of The New York school, here. Poems such as “I Was Trotting Along And Suddenly” call to mind Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems. Like O’Hara, Parker has a sharp eye for suggestive detail, well-suited to nailing impressions as they pulse along the course of a day. Her work is rife with nods to pop culture, too, especially breakbeat / hip hop culture. In “Boys, Boys, Boys (after Jay Z)”, the speaker confesses what she gets from men and what she expects, closing with the funny, stabbing “I can make a mixtape my own / damn self.” In “Real Housewife Considers Feminist Theory While Sketching Designs For Her Handbag Line” Parker deconstructs the semiotics of handbag ownership with gusto. “Miss Black America”, a series of five poems spread across the collection, riffs on the vintage Curtis Mayfield song, questioning how the beauty queen (and alter ego) will fare under the ubiquitous gaze of white supremacy and existential dread.

Occasionally, it seems like Parker’s idiosyncratic voice will slide into a vortex of excessively private ego-performativity, but she skirts the edge and tacks away from the confessional perspective, tempering it by thinking through identity as social construct. The title poem “Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night” begins with self-loathing, then bifurcates into an agonistic dialogue with the personified nervous breakdown. Raw and isolated in a room behind the closed curtains, the sound of rock ‘n roll filters in from the distance:

Singing enters me, becomes the window.
Baby think of my skin
as the best part of the song. Take me 
by the ribs and lay me at the bottom
of a dirty creek where I can 
get a good view.

Now more than ever, we need viewpoints like this. Parker’s debut collection reclaims the defiantly affirmative power of self-assertion and fresh vision. Extricating the self from the baggage that 21st century late capitalism saddles us with is no easy task. Morgan Parker inspires us to be honest with ourselves and carves open a space where the hard work of self-remaking can begin.
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Parker just gets better and better with each collection. The imagery, metaphors, and personification weaved throughout this body of work was mesmerizing and enchanting. Parker is sharp tongued and unapologetic as she pens about love, Blackness, and other people’s comfort with said Blackness, womanhood, and herself in general. This is by far Parker’s best collection. It is real, honest, thought-provoking, and hard hitting. My favorite poems were the collective piece called “Miss Black America” scattered throughout the collection & “the title poem “Other People’s Comforts Keep Me Up at Night”. This is a collection you want on your shelves! Parker delivers! 

I would recommend this poetry collection to fans of Danez Smith, Jasmine Mans, or Hanif Abdurraqib.
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Morgan Parker’s writing is so raw and visceral and thematically jarring, i cannot help but be blown away. With lines like “we are examples of paper” and “what is off-key will wake me up in the morning” this is one of my favorite poetry collections.
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So many people don’t even know how lucky they are yet that Morgan Parker’s debut collection is getting re-released. Other People’s Comfort hits just as hard as it did my first read six years ago & Danez Smith’s intro is moving & loving & validating. Order two copies so you always have one to give away - I know I will. Thank you to Tin House & Netgalley for the ARC.
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I love this poetry collection and I'm so excited that it's back in print! No one else can do what Morgan Parker does.
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God, this HURT. It's a beautiful collection, especially for a debut. It's thought-provoking and deeply emotional; really just insanely moving.
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This did not do much for me. There were excellent passages but as a whole it felt frenetic and often jumbled, a very free stream-of-consciousness output but one that is unfocused and that collapses under the author's very large assumptions of reader understanding. To me this feels like a book for the writer rather than  a book meant to be read by others; work that is cathartic but not resonant with external thought.
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Morgan Parker's Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night is being reprinted! This is the first collection of the author's. Her other notable works are There are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé and Magical Negro. This version has a new forward by Danez Smith, where he sings nothing but well-deserved, high praises of Parker.

Stylistically, these poems have a flow to them as the poet draws inspiration from rappers such as Jay-Z. At the heart of the poems are the trappings of a young Black girl navigating space with a slew of millennial pop culture references. These poems are as fun as they are breathtaking. An incredibly impressive set of debut poems that I'm so glad is going out into the world again.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Tin House Publishing. I am giving this review voluntarily.
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"I know a little something about pissing / in public but nothing about loving." 

What an amazing debut collection of poetry! Any fan of Parker will enjoy this look back into her early career. In fact, the most enjoyable part of this collection is how 20-something all the poems feel. There's a sense of desperation and loneliness throughout the poems that I certainly feel as a 20-something. My favorite poems were the "Miss Black America" series. You can really see Parker's future collections in those poems. Overall, it's a stunning collection of poems about finding yourself in a world that's not designed for you.
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Morgan Parker is a powerful voice, and this new collection is a distillation of vision, experience, emotion, and hope. A poet (and book) that must be read.
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This is a beautiful collection, and I didn't realize it was a re-release until after I'd read it, partly because the poems just feel good and new and timeless. I really like the pacing and flow of this book, which feels quite dreamlike in the way that it continuously incorporates the familiar and domestic with strange and unexpected imagery.
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"When dogs look at me
as they pass I imagine
they are ancestors

This collection didn't speak to me, but I caught an odd whisper or two. Sometimes you just read poems that don't connect, and that's okay. The poet's voice is full of lyrical imagery and disjointed thought - which is a positive, if you like that kind of poetry. For me, there were too many random ideas introduced like dots making up a painting; if I were a different reader, perhaps I could've stepped back and seen the bigger picture. Instead, I just saw a confusion of dots and felt like I was missing out.
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Thank you to Tin House and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Available July 13th 2021. 

The first time I came across Morgan Parker's work, I was awestruck. Hanging in an art gallery in front of me was the most sublime poem I had ever seen, "Towards a New Theory of Negro Propaganda", with its chaotic yet inspired amalgamation. In a similar vein, Parker's "Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night" is a bombastic celebration of all things Black and pop culture. With a natural cadence and soul to her work, Parker takes on a slew of subjects - anything from an ex hookup to a Real Housewife to ancient philosophy. With dry humor and wry wit, Parker makes each of these subjects shine. A captivating collection from one of America's best contemporary poets.
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The pain and emotion in this collection of poetry are so, so real. The words feel like... like pictures in the mind, like you're watching a moving picture instead of reading text.

If you like thought-provoking poetry on a variety of topics including race, pick this up.

I don't have many words.
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Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night is incredible. It’s riveting, you want to keep reading to catch that next amazing line from Morgan Parker.
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