City Scattered: Cabaret for Four Voices

by Tyler Mills

$15.95

WINNER OF THE SNOWBOUND CHAPBOOK AWARD 

“In a tone reminiscent of the era’s radio plays, City Scattered offers a range of spliced voices that construct a multi-perspectival musing on ‘the new woman’ as she emerged in the labor and consumer culture of Germany between the wars… We participate in the city itself as it becomes a kaleidoscope of rapidly shifting images, making quick, expert cuts into each other, juxtaposing an arousing, energized youth, dancing, drinking, and punching time-clocks, with black-and-white, grainy newsreel imagery of unemployment lines and laundry drying in coal-polluted air. Tyler Mills keeps her language sharp and flat, vivid and yet frank…”  

from the Snowbound Judge’s Citation by Cole Swensen

Format: Paperback
Published: April 2022

ISBN: 978-1-946482-68-6 Categories: , , Tag:

City Scattered invokes the bleak not-so-caberet-life of an imagined Berlin in four voices. Along with a German woman, there’s an ethnographer who plays a Victrola and takes notes (“but you can already/ find all that in novels,” answers an informant), an interlocutor critiquing, and a chorus (counted as one voice). The Berlin woman “being self-serving, promiscuous, and unmotherly, was nevertheless the darling of a new consumer culture” negotiates the realm. “The real power of light is presence” writes author Tyler Mills, but the light shed in the series “I/Self/Woman in Berlin” is a power itself “with coal staining the sheets/like ink.” Congratulations, a fine chapbook!

Terese Svoboda

In City Scattered, through gorgeous strands of speech, Tyler Mills perceptively reintegrates our sacred, forgotten past into a portrait of a woman whose self-possession and complexity are palpably rendered. Only a poet with such sensitivities of language can so clearly hear and interpret the immortal silence of history; only a poet attuned to her own incandescent spirit can test the oneiric nature of poetry with such vigor of mind.

Major Jackson

Tyler Mills’ The City Scattered is a rich document of the “inner architecture” and social displacements that occur under the “skies / of capital.” Its choral structure deftly links the late days of the Weimar Republic to labor in the age of Amazon. Through swift images and attention to the complexity of pleasure, Mills’ poems show the independence and alienation of workers, particularly women, for whom the “purse thickens” while unemployment rises and money is “losing value.” Her crisp, suggestive case study illuminates the confluence of precarity and prosperity at the heart of our era. “Do not lean out,” warns a sign on a window in one poem; but we’re already leaning closer to read.

Zach Savich

“In a tone reminiscent of the era’s radio plays, City Scattered offers a range of spliced voices that construct a multi-perspectival musing on ‘the new woman’ as she emerged in the labor and consumer culture of Germany between the wars. As so often happens through the slightly off-set lens of history, this work evokes contemporary issues of gender and social positioning while also creating a rich atmosphere that takes us to an intriguing elsewhere. In this case, this is achieved through the immediacy of characters that are specific enough to make us care about them and, at the same time, sufficiently open to allow our own imaginations to participate in the work.

“We also participate in the city itself as it becomes a kaleidoscope of rapidly shifting images, making quick, expert cuts into each other, juxtaposing an arousing, energized youth, dancing, drinking, and punching time-clocks, with black-and-white, grainy newsreel imagery of unemployment lines and laundry drying in coal-polluted air. Tyler Mills keeps her language sharp and flat, vivid and yet frank, augmenting the sense of documentary accuracy that the series’ source text, an ethnographic study of labor in Germany in 1930, lends to the work. City Scattered is also a study, we are told, and we in turn, study these voices, compare them to our own and those around us and are reminded that despite ‘mechanical tasks, / interchangeable . . . I (is) / no less a person.’”  

—from the Snowbound Judge’s Citation by Cole Swensen

Join Tyler Mills in conversation with James Morehead on the Viewless Wings poetry podcast.

 

Rich with meaning and story… captured through the simple device of a radio drama…

— Liza Wolff-Francis, Compulsive Reader

WINNER OF THE SNOWBOUND CHAPBOOK AWARD 

Goblets of gin, fans of feathers, war-bombed bricks, loaves of bread, soot, smoke, and paper money—such are the tangible things that touched the lives of women who worked as wage laborers during an era of Europe of cabaret and hyperinflation. The crises of modernity and capital, as well as the human experiences of women and who loved, lost, and fought against the structures of privilege that all the while aided them during a fraught stretch of time between wars, come alive in City Scattered, a chapbook of poems that invite us to experience and examine the conditions of labor that echo those of our current day.

Rich with meaning and story… captured through the simple device of a radio drama…

— Liza Wolff-Francis, Compulsive Reader

Tyler MillsTyler Mills is the author of City Scattered (winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Award), as well as Hawk Parable (winner of the Akron Poetry Prize), Tongue Lyre (winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award), and Low Budget Movie (co-authored with Kendra DeColo and winner of the Diode Editions Chapbook Prize). Her poems have appeared in The New YorkerThe GuardianThe New Republic, and Poetry, and her essays in AGNIBrevityRiver Teeth, and The Rumpus. She teaches for Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center’s 24PearlStreet, is a Founding Editor of The Account, and lives in Brooklyn.

Additional information

Weight 0.2 lbs
Dimensions 5.83 × 8.27 in

Click here to access a complimentary suite of curricular resources for City Scattered, designed by Sean Cho Ayres.