Feel Like Your Life Has Become Monetized? You’re Not Alone

Alissa Quart's new book offers poems of subtle insight that resist the marketization of American life.

In America today, every time we pursue a romance, choose a college major, launch a career, visit the doctor, or bring a new life into the world, we are forced to think in dollars and cents. But how do you monetize the value of crafting a beautiful poem? What is it worth to be a loving parent? What is the price of helping a friend in need or communing with the world flickering by on a moving train?

Alissa Quart, author of Branded, Hothouse Kids and Republic of Outsiders, has long been a keen observer of the tensions and absurdities of a society increasingly organized around markets rather than human beings. Her new volume of sensitive and searing poems plumbs the depths of what it is to be alive and adrift in a sea of commercial transactions. Quart’s laser-sharp phrases and haunting epiphanies have a way of sticking around in your head long after you turn the final page.

If late-stage capitalism has left you feeling estranged from the patterns of life and death and yearning to resist the gravitational pull of the cash nexus, this book is for you.

The following poems are excerpted from Monetized with permission from Miami University Press.

Sinking It All Into


They were afraid.

Subtraction was

their favorite term.


If we were arriviste

we’d have arrived all ready.


Securities speak.

They say, “Take comfort.”


Money cancels criticism.


If she were a he she’d be

indignant by now.


Her role, at this time:

an internal continuous

improvement consultant.


With one additional purchase,

you would have purchase.

With ability to purchase

you would be talking by now.


Spring Breaks

This beach, an old

song. Hunters look

for fortunes under sandy Buds,

days are day-glo,

cars are topless.

See your face

in the mirrored yacht floor?

Dipsomaniac mothers mouth

“Ring my bell,” injured,

on the shore, sands holding

our armpit skull tattoos,

rocking little bods, our shaved

chest zoo, as poolside aging

cling to dwindling heat.

Our kids’ thick flesh

pelts twice our size.

All our sport

shirts point to always

sitting still. Particles:

fried, bored, alive.

Can we refuse ourselves?

Millennial bland angels

tech-tonically tapping, our sweatfree

abalone blouses,

signatured water?

Neon-hearted: let us be

shielded. Here, where

the naughts end,

unnoticed, where yachts

hope shiningly unbought.

All owners at risk. All trying

to float. This beach’s

undimpled flesh exists

for death cult ex-marines,

for illustrated boyfriends,

for ruin. It’s waiting for

something to rise

again. You will only

reproduce your life.

Lynn Parramore is an author and cultural theorist. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.