Reiter, Jendi. Made Man. Little Red Tree Publishing. March 2022. $29.50. 130p. PB. 9781935656661.
A mix of somber moments and charming wit, Reiter’s collection makes space for humor in the maelstrom of navigating gendered experiences. Their poems synthesize recent historical moments and deeply personal anecdotes to create commentary that dares you to question binaries and social construction itself. Reiter sources material from the nooks and crannies of the human experience; they sculpt each poem using anything from Scholastic Book Club books to Jewish folklore to 1970’s photography series to Manhattan dumpling houses.
Reiter is prolific. Their collection is a gallery of forms and stylistic choices, a visual and linguistic array that is just as fascinating to read aloud as it is on the page. They show you they’ve mastered poetic tradition, and can break that tradition just as easily. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of these poems is the fantastical employment of choice diction and language. Each word is purposely placed- gems scattered where they’re least expected. This creates off-beat rhythms that delight rather than disturb, commanding respect for Reiter’s level of vocabularic prowess. There is no trace of pretentiousness in this feat, but rather a well of trust between Reiter and the audience that says: you know what I mean. The images Reiter evoke are lush, all while delicately balancing the concrete with the abstract. There is a sense of oscillation between those two spaces; it is that rhythm that inevitably beckons you into Reiter’s perspective.
For readers interested in the interplay of poetry and gender, this collection offers both a window into that distinctive space and a mirror for self-reflection.