Satan Talks to His Therapist

Satan Talks to His Therapist - poems by Melissa Balmain

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Satan Talks to His Therapist

— Poems by Melissa Balmain

Now Available for Order from Paul Dry Books

Full-length collection of original poetry from Melissa Balmain, now available for order from Paul Dry Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online and offline bookstores worldwide.


91-page paperback / 5.5" x 8.5" / ISBN 9781589881815 / Publication Date: 9/12/2023 (now shipping)

"If the LOLSOB emoji could write verse that both sings and stings, the result would be Satan Talks to His Therapist."
—Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman

In Satan Talks to His Therapist, Melissa Balmain explores the lighter side of dark times. Playful yet poignant, her poems perfectly capture our human fallibility and comedic sense of importance.

The collection begins with “On Looking at an MRI Cross-Section,” in which Balmain peeks inside her own skull to consider the jumble of thoughts and memories harbored there. After this introduction to the poet's inner world, the book divides into three sections: Spiraling Down, In Limbo, and Climbing Out. The poems in this lyrical descent and ascent are about climate change, social media, pandemics, politics (sexual and otherwise), parenthood, consumerism, aging, loss, and ills, both physical and societal. Balmain writes in meter and rhyme, and she uses traditional forms (sonnets, villanelles, terza rima) as well as ones she’s coined for the moment.

The poems in Satan Talks to His Therapist provide clarity and comedy in a time that feels anything but clear or comic, and they hint at the consolations of art, kindness, maturity, persistence, love, and, of course, humor.


“It turns out that the literary establishment can't quite kill off humorous poetry. Melissa Balmain's Satan Talks to His Therapist is a marvel in the tradition of Martial, Jonathan Swift, and Dorothy Parker and the more recent generation of poets that includes Wendy Cope, X.J. Kennedy, and R.S. Gwynn. It is poetry you will enjoy—and enjoy giving to a friend who needs to see some humor in a world desperate for the medicine of laughter.”
—A.M. Juster, author of Wonder & Wrath

“In one of the wickedly funny poems from Satan Talks to His Therapist, Dorothy Parker’s ghost drops in to comment on a political situation. Don’t believe it for a second, because if Parker’s ghost were to visit a Balmain poem, she would likely set fire to it out of spiteful envy. Melissa Balmain is the once and future Queen of American light verse, and only a ghost could keep from laughing all the way through this marvelous collection.”
—Julie Kane, former Louisiana Poet Laureate and author of Mothers of Ireland

“Melissa Balmain’s poems use precision without derision. She’s a master at the craft of verse—and her incisive wit and rueful intelligence make this book a profound read. This book takes on varied sources of contemporary angst: COVID-19, aging as a woman in a consumer culture, Zoom recitals, and medical mysteries. If the LOLSOB emoji could write verse that both sings and stings, the result would be Satan Talks to His Therapist. Highly recommended for poets and those who think poetry has nothing to do with modern life—Melissa Balmain’s poems will make converts of us all.”
—Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman

“Like Jonathan Swift, Melissa Balmain is a deft metrist and a delightfully inventive rhymer, whose wit is enriched by a great heart. In Satan Talks to His Therapist, she captures the disorientations of the Age of Trump and COVID-19, satirizing the meanness and sympathizing with the suffering. Though the outstanding poems here are too numerous to list, special treasures include ‘On Looking at an MRI Cross-Section,’ the title poem, ‘Niagara Overlook,’ and ‘Reprieve.’”
—Timothy Steele, author of Toward the Winter Solstice

“Balmain was probably funny straight out of the womb, with a huge internal rhyming dictionary, a fearless vocabulary, a scary gift for hilarious imagery, and instantaneous recognition of, and attraction to, the absurd. But her most valuable gift is easy to miss: it’s the capacity to tell the truth, even about the irritating—the even unforgivable!—without the verbal mean streak that normally accompanies humor.”
— Rhina P. Espaillat, author of And After All

“I can’t convey the essence of Satan Talks to His Therapist; it’s Balmain’s language itself that captures contemporary idiom like no other poet I know. Parody is one of her specialties: Don’t gather rosebuds, she advises—just call 1-800-FLOWERS. For Balmain, words and wit are one.”
—Deborah Warren, author of Connoisseurs of Worms