Even Though I Don’t Miss You
by Chelsea Martin
Short Flight/ Long Drive Books, 2013, 2nd printing 2014
by Cathleen Chambless
June 18, 2015
Cathleen Chambless is from Miami, Florida. She graduated with her MFA in poetry from FIU. She is also a visual artist and activist. She facilitates popular education based anti-oppression workshops with Miami's grassroots organization Seed 305. Her work has appeared in MPC's 10 Cent Journal, the anthology A Touch of Saccharine, Kind of a Hurricane Press's Best of 2014 Anthology, The Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature, Jai-Alai, The Mind[Less] Muse, and she was a poetry finalist for the Bellingham Review's 2014 Parallel Award for poetry. She co-authors a queer/feminist zine called Phallacies.
Even Though I Don’t Miss You is a humorous, yet honest collection of confessional prose poems that study the process of processing the end of a relationship. Which sounds like it could be intensely sentimental and urgent, but it’s not. Mainly because it’s not one of those “I lost the love of my life” reflections, more like “I was with this person for a long time and now I’m not” sort of reflection. I am not sure how many of these sorts of reflections exist, which is what makes it intriguing.
I sat on the beach reading this book of prose poems to my roommate while we waited for the saltwater on our skin to dry. She had seen Chelsea Martin read in Oakland, but did not realize it until I began to read these poems out loud. Why is that? Because of the way her deadpan tone evokes humor. At times it reads as if Daria is momentarily willing to be vulnerable. “Romance is such a funny term. / Funny as in, I have a fake body part. Guess what it is.”
There is a theme of detachment and alienation prevalent in this book. Martin achieves this through the mentioning of technology, social media, and the role it played in the relationship. The fact that she actually describes a Facebook chat in a poem is simultaneously delightful, funny, and sad. Perhaps because by doing so she admits the embarrassing truth of how much meaning we can ascribe to a simple interaction on social media, or the even more embarrassing truth, that it is meaningful.
“I tried to say something to you about my feelings. I was looking for some kind of warmth. A kind of connection to indicate that I was experiencing the same world someone else was experiencing. I tried to indirectly express this but you said, Stop talking about heat conductivity Chelsea. No one cares. I don’t even think you care, and you disconnected from chat.”
As she obsessively catalogues past conversations and interactions with her ex, we (the readers) get the answer to the infamous question “where did it all go wrong?” These snippets accurately portray the experience of hindsight clearly showing how dead and over a relationship is, while simultaneously showing at the moment the conversation was uttered, the speaker may not be aware of it or is bargaining with this fact, attempting to set a wet blank on fire.
This book is written in a stream of conscious style, but an obsessive stream of conscious. It reads as if she is recording every thought in her head. Which is a good and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it creates a genuine and honest presence throughout the book, where the “I” is unafraid to flaunt their character defects. It’s bad because not every thought is worth writing down because few thoughts are original and most thoughts are boring. It also makes the “I” come across as self-important and narcissistic. “Sometimes when I’m at work I think, I work here, and try to imagine looking at myself in the mirror instead.” For me this does not pass the “so what?” test. However, at the same time, Martin seems to be making fun of someone taking themselves too seriously, while at moments taking themselves too seriously, and making fun of that too.
If you’re looking for something that is and is not as simple as it seems, that seems to say, it is what it is, but I don’t know what it is in the first place, so in the mean time I’ll miss you, then this book is for you.