Ange Mlinko

Ange Mlinko’s next collection, Venice, is due in April 2022.

Lydia Davis​ is big on lists. In her early short story ‘Break It Down’, the unnamed narrator attempts to balance financial and emotional ledgers in the aftermath of a love affair:

I’m breaking it all down. The ticket was $600 and then after that there was more for the hotel and food and so on, for just ten days. Say $80 a day, no, more like $100 a day. And we made love, say,...

Poem: ‘Moth Orchid’

Ange Mlinko, 12 August 2021

I like – don’t you? – that it has an insect tattooedin its sanctum sanctorum, a suitor’s pseud.That’s one aspect of its ghostliness, its moon-tones,its utter prescience, not to mention cojones.For if those speckles don’t answer to the footprintsof insects tramping through the moondustof its pollen, I don’t know what its six headdressesare for, or what...

Adrienne Rich’s​ poems speak so strongly to the current zeitgeist (dating from, say, the Occupy movement through #MeToo to Black Lives Matter) that it’s astounding – no, instructive – to realise they were written twenty, forty, fifty years ago:

at your tabletelephone ringsevery four minutestalkof terrible thingsthe papers bringingno good news       ...

Poem: ‘The Mechanicals’

Ange Mlinko, 3 June 2021

‘Couples can wed at the Miami Zoo …’She is laughing to her confessor,a tightswathed, foiling hairdresser(whose biceps playing peekaboo,

as he parts and lifts and snips,suggest the weight of the flattening ironor the tensility in the ringlets of that sirenchatting about her ‘upcoming trips’).

Zoe, meanwhile, creases my headdress,also of foil, in which I look,arrayed...

Like Washbasins: Yiyun Li

Ange Mlinko, 6 May 2021

Lilia Imbody​ (née Liska), ‘from Benicia, California’, is the resident curmudgeon at Bayside Garden retirement community: ‘anyone sitting next to her fell into the category of the unwelcome.’ She’s also a specialist in mordant wisecracks:

Jane was complaining this morning that all she could remember were the things before she turned ten and after she turned...

When​ Harry Mathews died in Key West in 2017, just shy of his 87th birthday, he was remembered as the first American member of Oulipo, the expatriate author of several experimental novels: The Conversions (1962), Tlooth (1966), The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium (1975), Cigarettes (1987), The Journalist (1994) and My Life in CIA (2005). A final novel, The Solitary Twin, was published...

Echo is a fangirl

Ange Mlinko, 3 December 2020

If you’re a poet, and also a philosopher of language who dotes on the real-world consequence of words, it comes as a shock that words have no bearing, finally, on death. ‘That you can’t edit.’ The great licentiousness of language lies in its counterfactuals: that is its source of invention, in play as well as villainy, but therein also lies Riley’s problem: she can be told her son is dead, she can say it to herself a hundred ways, but words are just that. It’s only with the continuation of his non-return that the fact sinks in.

Swamp cypress candled itself above the waterwhere Nereus’ daughterID’d carnivorous-looking white bloomsand erect scarlet racemesexciting an admiral, plus somesmall yellow species, all sulphur and helium.

She even thought she saw a hummingbirdfeasting on the bells of bright red –less a creaturethan a miniaturetourbillon tweezing a gap in the humdrumspace-time continuum.

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko, 13 August 2020

My mother, in 1966, is an accessoryatop a Revolutionary War cannon:leopard print coat, buttons undone,legs slimly pressed, bare knees closed –a scene both faded and overexposed.She wasn’t used to winter; vis à visher status as ‘permanent resident alien’,she should have covered up. Pennsylvania …Her brother already drafted in the army.The very picture of a...

One wag​ subtitled it ‘Homer in a Nutshell’. The Batrachomyomachia, or The Battle between the Frogs and the Mice, was thought by the Romans and its early English translators to be a minor work of Homer’s from the eighth or ninth century BC, though its linguistic anachronisms and allusion to Callimachus place it as a likely Hellenistic epyllion. Its three hundred lines in...

Just a Diphthong Away: Gary Lutz

Ange Mlinko, 7 May 2020

After​ reading five hundred pages of Gary Lutz, I opened Google Maps and took a long, hard look at the state where he was born: Pennsylvania, the ‘Keystone State’, although it’s shaped more like a ticket stub fished from a back pocket, is entirely recognisable in his descriptions. ‘I lived in a town that had sourceless light falling over it at all hours.’...

Poem: ‘Watteau’

Ange Mlinko, 26 September 2019

                                     ‘No Trespassing’, read the blackened sign, prompting a wry laugh. Scorched earth brooks no law. The blazes happened months ago in the news; now a wilderness prodigal...

Molasses Nog: Diane Williams

Ange Mlinko, 18 April 2019

Rushing​ out of the house for an appointment, I grabbed what I thought was Diane Williams’s Collected Stories. When I retrieved the book from my bag, I was surprised to find it was actually the latest volume of Sylvia Plath’s letters: they’re both large hardbacks whose pale jackets are touched with baby blue. The switcheroo generated unforeseen connections. If I had been...

On Sinéad Morrissey: Sinéad Morrissey

Ange Mlinko, 25 October 2018

Many years ago​, I had a treasured book – a history of scientific ideas – and what I liked most about it were the illustrations of various models and contraptions. Ptolemaic spheres! Arabian water clocks! Alchemical cucurbits! I tried to account for my fascination with these objects. Was it artisanal appreciation? The visual appeal of things in an age of signals and circuits?...

Poem: ‘Ducks’

Ange Mlinko, 30 August 2018

After the olivine waves of Marina di Torre del Lago, we drive between colonnades of umbrella pines … It is 7:30 p.m. and the midsummer sun has just descended below the treeline … Lorenzo laments that the days are getting shorter now. I think this is premature. By our separate doors we leave the Fiat together.

The roadside broom and bluets seem to go together, but past the...

On Maureen McLane

Ange Mlinko, 10 May 2018

The argument​ laid out in the first four poems of Some Say, Maureen McLane’s newest collection (Farrar, Straus, £20), encapsulates the one she makes in the whole book, and in all her poetry. The collection starts out in medias res, with the first poem’s title, ‘As I was saying, the sun’, taking a running leap into the poem itself: ‘& the moon and all...

On Fanny Howe: Fanny Howe

Ange Mlinko, 5 October 2017

Fanny Howe​ is so adept at creating floating worlds, gossamer meditations on being and art, that a reader might mistake autobiographical anecdotes for fables. In the final piece in her 2009 essay collection, The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation, she goes to a café in Paris to meet an unnamed older woman, vaguely a colleague, whose existential pronouncements bear down harshly: ‘You...

Beauty is a fight to the finish, though you want to educate the decorum away. Here, in the bruised atmosphere of a tropical storm, we wait for the rain band to diminish,

considering horses. Your student had one shipped from Holland. ‘A horse does not want to be Fedexed.’ (Could one apply dressage to text? Have it perform at one’s command? Banish felicitous accident?)



Why should​ poets’ deaths carry more weight than those of others? David Markson’s litany of deaths, This Is Not a Novel, starts off with a poet’s death (Byron’s) and expands to commemorate, in laconic sentences and judicious fragments, the deaths (sprinkled with quotes and quirks) of novelists, painters, composers, philosophers. As it turns out, you’re not...

Poem: ‘From ‘Epic’’

Ange Mlinko, 15 December 2016

‘Dear Tenant,

Right before my husband left, he did me a good deed. He hung a heavy mirror I had bought at an estate sale, bevelled, gilt, uncommonly clear. It was as though I’d freed him to do what he neglects to do when chores entail … what? Fairness? This was a gift. It hangs above eye level, more to catch the light of the ceiling lamp than to reflect the faces of his...

Poem: ‘Gelsenkirchen’

Ange Mlinko, 5 May 2016

At some point they got off at Gelsenkirchen, which is on the same train line as Hanover, and while there, had their portraits taken. That’s all the sense I can make of this stopover on their way to the coast, where the ships were taking the faux Poles, the birchen people, to whatever hospitable continent, on tips circulating in the famine camps and steeple- lands. Rotted frames, rusted...

Poem: ‘Terminal Moderne’

Ange Mlinko, 18 July 2013

Mother Reilly’s Daughter! Trompe l’oeil Ale! Aphasic Skywalk! Night at the hub pub, microbrews and boutique pinots – In its throes, Does one ever hear the Mädchen cry from the woods at the edge of the            tarmac?

The artwork is meant to mute us, is it? Large-scale cibachromes, mobiles, canvases – A...

Poem: ‘Civilisation’

Ange Mlinko, 25 April 2013


The Venetians, the Venetians –           you hear about the Venetians picking off the black grapes of Izmir           or seizing a ship bound for Egypt, to trigger a           war for Crete; grabbing the wrong rein in the king’s...

Little Philadelphias: Imagism

Ange Mlinko, 25 March 2010

On 2 July 1914, violent thunderstorms heralded the publication in London of the first Vorticist magazine, Blast. Since January that year, there had been the threat of insurrection from the Ulster rebels; 937 strikes; 107 arson attacks by suffragettes (who also slashed Velásquez and Sargent paintings in the National Gallery); only four days earlier the Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been...

If modernism is our antiquity, as T.J. Clark has claimed, then Barbara Guest was a devout classicist. No American poet – with the exception of John Ashbery – so reverently extended early modernist aesthetics into the second half of the 20th century. As Guest put it in her essay ‘Radical Poetics and Conservative Poetry’, ‘everything we loved, emulated, was...

Three Poems

Ange Mlinko, 23 July 2009

Belated Treatment

We went to the vivarium – to see the tropical butterflies in a walk-through biodome. They were cocooning, their insides filled with meconium. The cocoons looked like jade and rosy quartz pendants for ladies’ ears – with gold worked in, something Babylonian. Enormous specimens breathed against treebark.

Belated naturalists we. I kept repeating to myself: the...

Robert Oppenheimer knew Sanskrit. Quotations from the Bhagavad Gita flashed through his mind when he witnessed the first atomic explosion in New Mexico in 1945: ‘Suppose a thousand suns should rise together into the sky: such is the glory of the Shape of the Infinite God.’ Reading that same chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in Darjeeling in 1962, Allen Ginsberg thought of something...

From The Blog
4 August 2011

There’s a TV reality show in the US (Same Name) about people with the same name swapping lives. I feel confident that the producers won't be calling on me. But a few weeks ago, Google alerted me to the improbable existence of another Ange Mlinko.

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