With an approach entirely her own, Jessy Randall’s How to Tell If You Are Human is a collection of visual poems that transform the cold, flat, bureaucratic nature of instructional charts and graphs culled from old and discarded library books into powerful ruminations on feminism, domesticity, surveillance, loneliness, and longing—a complexity of experience that could only come from our current time. Through acts of striking metamorphosis and pitch-perfect humor, Randall has created with How to Tell If You Are Human a private language that speaks to the absurdities, anxieties, and occasional joys of life and girlhood in this modern age—and then generously shares that language with us, her lucky readers.
If you’re not sure you’re human, Jessy Randall’s diagram poems might help. There is something true (truth = heartbreak + hilarity + humility) in how she charts our bizarre behaviors, diagrams our paranoid fantasies, and blueprints our vulnerable questions. Jessy Randall kills me. –Sommer Browning, author of Backup Singers
Jessy Randall has created the ultimate user manual for human existence. Finally, it all makes sense! –Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
Jessy Randall has cunningly made a how-to book that is also a poetry book that is also a book of images that also interrogates the notion of poetic imagery itself. How to Tell If You Are Human is a playful and intriguing work. –Amy Fusselman, author of Savage Park and Idiophone
Jessy Randall maps her imagination onto the world—or, at least, onto the world’s ephemera. Lost charts, diagrams, and instruction booklets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: in Randall’s hands, these e the fecund materials that compose our age. She writes onto/into these artifacts of the past in order to illuminate our confounding present. How to Tell If You Are Human is a deadpan triumph of poetic repurposing and Randall one of visual poetry’s most restlessly inventive practitioners. –Johnny Damm, author of The Science of Things Familiar