Sarabande Books, 2009
Simone Muench's third book of poems, Orange Crush, draws on amazingly
lush and specific language to describe, in part, scenes of women's
hardship. However, rather than reinforcing images of victimization,
Muench's women emerge as brilliantly complex, and they bite at the
boxes they are in. The central poem in the book, "Orange Girl Suite,"
focuses on women who earned money selling oranges—and often
themselves—outside theaters. The sections of this poem weave in and
out of history, creating rich images that move beyond stereotype and
make history a vivid companion to the present. Muench follows the
poem with a series of prose pieces that are based on, and also expand
and explode, different stereotypes of women, such as "the femme fatale"
described as "A wineglass filled with fight." Throughout the book, the
power of Muench's language gives these women power. The reader is
left not with the stark hardness of gender inequality but with the richness
of seeing lives anew. As Yusef Komunyakaa says, the book is "always
moving toward the revelatory."