Loads of Learned Lumber

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Patricia Lockwood, _Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals_

A COLLEAGUE SPOTTED me reading this and asked me what it was.

"It's Patricia Lockwood's second book." This rang no bells. "It has 'Rape Joke' in it."

This got a nod of recognition.

"I haven't read it," he said, "but I've read about it."

Read about it?

I've decided this is an encouraging sign. If people are reading about contemporary poetry, who knows, their curiosity may get the better of them and they will perhaps actually read some of the poetry itself.

Motherland Fatherland Homosexuals is recognizably the work of the poet who wrote Balloon Pop Outlaw Black but adds some new moves, not the least powerful of which is the directness and candor of "Rape Joke."

Like Ariana Reines and Lara Glenum, Lockwood combines an avant-leaning poetic with third wave feminism. Poetically, she often works by seeing what happens out of an unlikely connection, seemingly generated by some Rousselian randomness. Politically, one of the conjoined terms often comes from the domain of pornography or some other variety of the commodification of sexuality. So we have poems that contemplate Canada, Bambi, taxidermy, and Emily Dickinson at the same time that they ponder flicking tongues, final hungry kisses, gang bangs, and tit-pics.

We wind up an awfully long way from Adrienne Rich or Eavan Boland or Carol Duffy or anything that would wind up on the greeting cards sold in women's bookstores. It's scarier, funnier, weirder, but perhaps truer to the contradictions of experience in some ways.

The book works because of Lockwood's ingenuity, the abundance of her imagination in exploring and constructing something out of the constraints in which she places the poem. The miniature imaginary worlds she makes out of these unlikely conjunctions are, on the one hand, ludicrously unreal and unmappable, while on the other hand being capable of seeming like snapshots of our world taken from an unflattering but terribly revealing angle.

Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals is worth reading as well as being read about.

No comments: