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Reviewed by Savannah Aldridge for Readers' Favorite
For anyone who has fought for the right to love, celebrate, and be themselves, there is All the Bad Girls Wear Russian Accents. In this collection, poet Jane Muschenetz interweaves reflections on many themes that connect to identity, communication, and a place in the world. Much of the works feature snatches of Muschenetz’s experience as a Ukrainian-born Jewish refugee who fondly cherishes her family’s languages, Russian and Yiddish, along with foods and experiences. Though she displays joy and endurance, she also writes of the fractured elements of life, violence, disconnection, and false perceptions. This collection contains content warnings at the beginning of a couple of poems that mention violence.
All the Bad Girls Wear Russian Accents is a collection that comes together as a safe refuge for us to consider what it means to exist as oneself in the world. I was deeply impressed that I could feel such a connection to lines about specific cultural experiences that are not part of my heritage. Jane Muschenetz expertly crafts pieces that honor the specific but draw us in to make the specific universal. The artful variety in the poems' forms, contents, and lengths kept me engaged and aligned perfectly with this more extensive work. The poem Gender Neutral, for instance, brilliantly touched upon topical questions and brought a fresh take to questions about traditions and gender through a reflection on the different ways that languages have conceptualized the moon. It's a must-have for poetry lovers everywhere!