Saturday, October 10, 2009

8. "The American People just want / to tap that feminine side"

Poetry might occupy that dumb gap between life and our language for it, like how much it can suck to be a girl --  a subject position made both of something like reality:

I am a head & a half
taller than our city's police commissioner
A head that hurts & is gorgeous noxious.

and culture's cruel instruction:

You are a bird
inside this cage


Appropriation is always a slant authorship, aggravating to those who want to believe a poem is something with which we can disagree.  This  technique always has exactly a feminist cunning, and always a feminist heritage (the Baronness, Acker).  We steal shit.  It's not okay.  It is sideways and deflecting and done with our under-hand out.

This is poetry as "opposite day": that maddening formal experiment of third graders, who spend hours caught in their own ambiguities of not-exactly-meaning-this-but-meaning-sort-of-another-thing.  Why do third-graders play "opposite day"?  Exactly because they are of a human class that's been mostly bribed, punished, manipulated, and cajoled into behaving for eight or nine of their human years. When language is used to keep you docile you find some intricate ways to game language, to mess-it-up and make it work for you.  And as every third grader also knows, to mess with words is likely to freak out those with a heavy investment in using those words to set you (to set it, to set the record) straight. 

So Shanna Compton in For Girls & Others, published by her own Bloof Books (which will publish my novel, JOAN, too),  steals shit, specifically from an old-fashioned instruction manual For Girls, also a little from that great heaving machine of cruel instruction, The Internet.  To steal words to screw them up and then to self-publish them is for a girl (subjected to cruel instruction) like doing everything you were instructed against.  This is a book made from elegant defiance.

Compton means almost nothing of what she steals and says, not directly.  She does not want us or our girl-offspring, to remain "soft / pink / forlorn." 

"It's time to put on the big girl pants/ and kick some ass."  

She means mostly what she does.

1 comment:

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