Melanie Browne's Heaven Is A Giant Pawn Shop Reviewed

Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop by Melanie Browne
embracce-press, 36 pp, 2009, $8.00
ISBN: 978-1-906588-47-2

- Review by CLJ Staff

Melanie Browne’s poetry makes me feel hungry. Who knows, maybe it’s the description of the snarling lunch ladies that have "perfectly round mashed potato famine hearts" in the poem “I’ve already been to hell” that did it. Yes, that must be it.

Browne, who lives in Houston, Texas, has just under two years invested in the poetry game. Nevertheless, Browne’s reputation is growing and her work has been proliferating on lit-zines like Word Riot, Cherry Bleeds, Madswirl, and decomP. And, as co-editor of Leaf Garden Press, Browne is already making strides within the confines of the small press.

I first became acquainted with Browne’s work when CommonLine published two of her poems late in 2008; one entitled “I pretend to be a go-go dancer in a dirty gas station restroom (and other gas station tales)” is included in her new poetry collection Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop.

The first thing that struck me about Browne’s new collection is the opening poem, which is appropriately called “Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop.” In the second stanza of the title poem Browne writes:
You can trade
a bladder
For a
Lord of the
Flies ballet!

At this point you might be asking yourself what exactly is a “lord of the flies ballet”? Well, I can’t tell you, because I don’t know what it is either. What I can tell you is that Browne’s collection of poems makes me laugh and her literary style posseses exactly the brand of sharp weirdness that makes Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop radiate with awesomeness. With that said, Browne’s book is a sometimes weird, albeit funny-ass read. And God knows, I love me some fucking mashed potato famine hearts.

Melanie Browne's poetry has appeared in various online journals including Madswirl and Gloom Cupboard. Her first Chapbook, Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop is available from Erbacce Press. She is a co-editor at Leaf Garden Press.