“[T]here is no sweeter lullaby than the hum of your servomotor.” And with that exquisite line—one of myriads in a wondrous chapbook of poems—Margaret Rhee encapsulates and humanizes our relationship with technology. Part science fiction, all love poems, Radio Heart; or How Robots Fall Out of Love adeptly illustrates and examines our millennial desires, in turn, our deep-seated and engineered loneliness. The collection is an acrobatic, careful amalgam of lyricism and algorithms, intelligence and kitsch, which manages scientific seriousness while winking, without sacrificing raw emotions (see: robot death scene). What a fun, sexy read, sprinkled with double entendre, yet layered with genuine feelings and cerebral warmth! It takes a poet with a sharp emanating mind and a huge blaring heart to assemble such poems for the next decades now.
—Joseph O. Legaspi
Margaret Rhee’s playful and poignant collection of robot poems follows the “morse code of her human heart” right into the soul of the machine. Each poem explores mysteries of love and logic as she pursues her thirst to understand the most human of our machines.
A former colleague of mine always wrote “NO LOVE POEMS” on her syllabi. She hadn’t read Margaret Rhee’s tender book, or lines like “there is no sweeter lullaby than the hum of your servomotor.” If poetry has been dulled by the abuses of repetition and cliché, Rhee knows how to turn a worn moment into a fresh one: “you fall deeply into the small of moonlight. / fall deeply into circuits and glow”; “Your glow upon my face. My name is / Engraved into your board.” A kinetic game of “find and replace” (find “heart,” replace with “servomotor”), Rhee’s love poems do not alter much where they alteration find, but she shifts just enough to put spring back in the step of the love poem.
—Susan M. Schultz
Near the start of this amazing progression of Eros, “plentiful oil,” cranked up volume, and dreams, Margaret Rhee lays out the terms of endearment: “there is no love manual for robots.” Take note, reader, that the ambiguity—like the famous hair of the werewolf at Trader Vic’s—is “perfect.” But Radio Heart’s few pages are chock full of unexpected signals—the arc here goes way beyond style and hip quips about the future or tossed-off love, virtual love. Radio Heart—algorithms and all—is nothing less than an extremely bold foray into the limits of unpredictable and quite imperfect hearts; in Radio Heart love is conditional and tense and astoundingly human.
Radio Heart; or, How Robots Fall Out of Love
Finishing Line Press, Apr 2015
Publisher Website: https://finishinglinepress.com/product_reviews_info.php?products_id=2383&reviews_id=1059
Author Website: http://www.nectarinedreams.com/
About the Author
Margaret Rhee is the author of chapbooks Yellow (Tinfish Press, 2011) and Radio Heart; or, How Robots Fall Out of Love (Finishing Line Press, 2015). She co-edited Glitter Tongue: queer and trans love poems and Mixed Blood, a literary journal on race and innovative poetics edited by CS Giscombe. She is a Kundiman Fellow and the Kathy Acker Fellow at Les Figues Press. In 2014, she received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in ethnic and new media studies. Currently, she teaches at UCLA and is a visiting assistant professor in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon.