The Longest Total Solar Eclipse of the Century

Catherine Meng

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This personal peculiar! This masterful fleece of impudent doubt! Endeavoring to un-forget the sum of those we cannot let in (so let in). Catherine Meng is the doppelganger of my imprudent hopes whose constant and surprising elegance keeps me attuned to what actually matters.

--John Coletti

No narrative can contain a life. The illusion that it could has always hindered both fiction and living. Catherine Meng’s The Longest Total Solar Eclipse of the Century purports to capture a year, but the details keep threatening to escape. There’s a difference between the need to make sense and embracing the senseless, but sometimes the GPS goes dark and you have to improvise: “I saw a bee & thought of you somewhere north on a ladder / among the limbs of apple trees.” Meng’s book gathers the shards of a fractured present while incorporating dreams, diary entries, and the back brace worn by a stock boy at Staples. We should hope that every year contains at least this much.

--Alan Gilbert

The Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century continues Catherine Meng’s experiments along the radiant edge of how-we-live-now. The book is, among many things, an examination of habit, the daily round of life and language that dulls us to the world. “Round & round,” she writes. “We do this again & again.” But it is possible, Meng asserts, to awake in the moment, “To look up. To say to one’s self: this is real. Wanting to touch everything now: the barista’s smile, the impossible cake, the change in weather, us, you, whomever you are, reading this, me, twenty years, months, days, hours from now ” The Longest Solar Eclipse is full of such awakenings, when the world appears new and wild, suddenly freed from the constructs we have invented to tame it.

--Jon Davis

We are stardust and rehearse our memories on the finite stage of our quotidian lives. In her new collection of poems, Catherine Meng torques time so time conforms to events, rather than the other way around. What is revolving is everything, and the difference between familiar and unfamiliar, pattern and deviation, begins to unravel until “it is all one / continuous / eclipse.”

--E. Tracy Grinnell

Catherine Meng is the author the chapbooks 15 Poems in Set of Five (Anchorite Press), Dokument (Petrichord Books), Lost Notebook w/ Letters to Deer (Dusie3), and I’m not writing PURE WAR this is a grocery list (Dusie5), as well as a full-length poetry collection, Tonight’s the Night (Apostrophe Books, 2007). Her poems have appeared in Abraham Lincoln, Aufgabe, The Boston Review, Crowd, Fence, Jubilat, Shampoo, among other places. She lives in Berkeley, CA with her family.