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The Panic Room by Rebecca Papucaru

Finalist for The A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry in 2017


Preoccupied with the complexities of identity and selfhood, memory, embodiment, loss, and family, Rebecca Păpucaru carefully examines details that make up one’s lived experience.

“Lobster Dinner” describes a happy childhood memory of eating an lobster with an admiring father as her audience, while “Take It or Leave It” is the quotidian, yet heartbreaking, failure of a daughter and her mother to find an emotional connection at an art gallery.

The Panic Room is about the giants that loom over us. A second-generation Eastern European Jewish immigrant, Păpucaru attempts to grapple with connecting with her family’s past as well as the distinct feeling of being disconnected. In “On Watching an Eastern Bloc Comedy” she writes, “I’m one generation apart from all this, / and ashamed. Of my father, before his / refrigerator, mourning age spots on lettuce.”

Păpucaru offers unabashed honesty: the sort of reflections you’d only tell your dearest friend.

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Nightwood Editions