An Introduction to Eileen G’Sell by Dora Malech

Eileen G’Sell’s “Nooners” is a glimpse into her new manuscript Manic Pixie Dream Songs. Here, the poetic legacy of John Berryman’s confessional persona poem collides with the pop-cultural trope of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” a term first coined by critic Nathan Rubin in 2005 to describe the effervescent muse whose raison d’être is to inspire the male protagonist to live in the moment. What Berryman’s Henry and cinema’s stock character cliché have in common, of course, is their privileging of the inner lives of troubled men, relegating women to un-nuanced supporting roles. The speaker of G’Sell’s “Nooners” goes deep undercover to interrogate this paradigm by inhabiting it and reanimating from within. The result—in “Nooners” and in the poems of Manic Pixie Dream Songs more broadly—is a smart, funny feminist send-up. While the speaker plays her part of instruction and seduction in the world of the poem, G’Sell seduces and instructs her readers on a whole other level, making room for women’s rage and wisdom (“I will always be angrier than you could guess. I will always know what time it is”) while staking an unapologetic claim to the whimsical, the sexy, and the absurd.