Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals – Patricia Lockwood


“When you wake to the fact that you
have a body, you will wake to the fact that not for long.
When you wake you will come when you read the word
hard, or hard to understand me, or impenetrable poetry.
When you put down the book you will come when you
hear the words put down the book,
you will come when you hear.”

I first found out about Patricia Lockwood when her poem The Rape Joke went viral.  I then went to follow her on Twitter and found out she’s one of the most hilarious and ridiculous people to follow.  So you should go follow her right now, and also if you haven’t yet, go read The Rape Joke (which is also published in this particular volume of poetry).

Lockwood’s poetry is feminist, absurd, sexual, modern, and humorous.  It’s certainly not for everyone, and a huge change from the relatively conservative poetry of Robert Kroestsch, who I just read.  Some of the poems went a bit over my head with their absurdity, while others were incredibly on point.  Each of the poems are filled with strong irony that is borderline hyperbolic, though some reach better levels of clarity than the others.  To go in reading these poems after reading Rape Joke may not meet your expectations, since they are vastly different.  What’s funny is, in the poem Rape Joke, Lockwood stipulates that after writing a poem called Rape Joke, it’s the only thing she’ll be known for.  (No Trish, you will also be known for your brilliant Twitter account).

And here, I leave you with one of my favourite poems from the book.

Bedbugs Conspire to Keep Me from Greatness

“In the cities all the poets, and in all the cities,
bedbugs. Fat with their black lyric blood! Alive
at only night, and there and then not there. Better
bedbugs than the ones that eat paper, say poets —
the ones that eat paper are in our blood
and the bedbugs eat them up, rip rip rip, and our paper
creamily goes on whole, with not a single real space
between sentences in it. They say come to the cities
and there
become Great! The poets have money to spend
in the cities: they spend the newest American dollars,
the crisp-aired greenest American dollars, blazing
with pictures of National Parks. “the Old Faithful
Geyser almost gushes off the note!” At last money admits
the power of poetry, at last money admits it is written
on – and this piece of paper almost gushes, so go to a city
and spend it. The poets in cities save their money
and travel to National Parks, and never sleep at night
there, no one sleeps in a National Park, they stay up late
and inseminate each other with memories of mountains
and glimpses of wildlife, and human reflections in stilly
chill lakes, and afterward they lie awake, miles away
from any city, miles away from their living mattresses
where their absent shapes are getting sucked
for their blood. Oh the bedbugs are happy; in bedbug prison,
the locked-up poet is writing his poems, in blood just like
the first time. Oh the poets are happy back in the cities, there
are legible smears on their sheets every day, and a prickling
always on their skin like something is coming
for them through the grass, long green grass
of where they came from.”

Books read: 6


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