ALL THE FEMINIST POETS features a single poem and an interview from a feminist poet that we love.
Geraldine Kim is the author of Povel (Fence, 2005) which was featured in The Believer and Village Voice‘s top 25 books of the year. She has contributed to Starting Today, a collection of 100 poems for Obama’s first 100 days (University of Iowa, 2010), to Gurlesque (Saturnalia, 2010) and to the e-version of Gurlesque (forthcoming, Saturnalia). She also wrote the play Donning Cheadle, which was performed in venues in San Francisco and Oakland.
right amount of weird
this is still happening
right amount of incomprehensible
it’s a showdown today
no it’s a persuasion session
no it’s clogged arteries
a compulsive need for veracity
flush down the toilet
redefine who Geri is
she’s got multiple personality disorder
she’s got a deformed face
she lost everyone in a fire
she ran over the school children
she didn’t donate to multiple sclerosis
but to the drunken homeless
she’s dehydrated raisin feces
she has animal rape fantasies
a dog devours her dead pussy
her dead parts
she writes the same poems
she lowers herself
she lowers her arms
she commands the firing squad to fire
Do I know anyone with a couch there?
No? Can I see you virtually?
Clothed from the navel up?
my navel has lint in it
the lint smells like sweat
my navel used to be my everything
now it collects jizz
now I collect train tickets
now I collect memories of penis lengths
she’s asking about self hatred
there’s a neurochemical difference
between anxiety and depression
except in mixed states
in the mixed state, I feel so much self hatred and depression
that I fuck strangers and max out credit cards
after being away I come back to warmth smell familiarity proximity
softness my vagina is barely wet
I’m barely here
life is depressing then it’s not
the song repeats
I just have to have the appearance of things
my body is yours
we share a closeness
I tasted myself off your hand
I missed you
I missed you both
the medication has the same effect on everyone
in the study, we cut subjects
from every paced scene
my shared alive awareness
it’s not your fault
I brought other options:
French, Italian, Orwellian
maybe the death of another can be forgotten
I’m a memory
a list feeling
a lost feeling
a list poem
I’m a duo yet
I’m a dirty slut
I’m a figure
silhouette breaking apart
the identifiers of style
everything I’s fiction
just slack-jawed and disinterested
fan the sultry royal blood
feed it grapes
worship and serve it
write incendiary critiques
the war is the same in every era
the needless shaming
the needle puncturing
pan out to more surface
from a satellite, it’s just another watery hole
Marisa Crawford: Can you talk a bit about the poem you chose, and why you consider it feminist?
Geraldine Kim: Sure—this poem is part of a larger manuscript (that I’ve sent out to the world to hopefully get published one day) called b/i/r/d. In this poem, I wanted to take the confessional form and play with it in a way that makes the idea of subjectivity just that—an idea… while still maintaining its “female”/”Geraldine” speaker. I’ve been recently reflecting a lot on Cathy Park Hong’s essay in Lara Turner—she talks about the specious argument against identity politics that academic-avant garde-conceptual poets seem to hold:
“The avant-garde’s “delusion of whiteness” is the luxurious opinion that anyone can be “post-identity” and can casually slip in and out of identities like a video game avatar, when there are those who are consistently harassed, surveilled, profiled, or deported for whom they are. But perhaps that is why historically the minority poets’ entrance into the avant-garde’s arcane little clubs has so often been occluded. We can never laugh it off, take it all in as one sick joke, and truly escape the taint of subjectivity and history.”
Now, Park Hong is talking about race here but I think the “post-identity” problem can easily be applied to gender. “I” can’t un-female. It’s an identity that’s pasted upon “me,” even in utero… (side note: it’s crazy how few gender-neutral “congrats on yr baby” cards there are out there—just sayin’). So, I like trying to figure out ways of exploring what it means to be female—or even to just be a person—to complicate what is “I” without falling prey to social mythologies of what “I” should be, while at the same time acknowledging that “I” am shaped by those same mythologies, regardless of my dis/likes.
MC: Your poems, stories, essays, and so on are always so energetically jam-packed with poignant and/or hilarious allusions and moments of the everyday. What are your thoughts on writing of dailiness, and how it does or does not connect to feminism?
GK: Hm… I think writing in a lofty/museum-like/non-daily/sculptured way ignores the beautiful/ugly detritus, the during, the process. By making the poem boring/dull/everyday, we accept all source material, not just some of it. And by including all of it, without ornate curation, without makeup (or maybe, showing the makeup being meticulously applied), we show the female as a process rather than as a product/thing to behold?
I feel like your poems do really well in navigating the daily with the feminist more-so than mine tend to, though? I really admire that quality in your work.
MC: Thanks Geri! An excerpt from your book Povel was included in Arielle Greenberg & Lara Glenum’s Gurlesque anthology. What does “Gurlesque” mean to you in relation to your work?
GK: I don’t really think of the Gurlesque in relation to my work—I just read some poetry books I liked, then wrote some poems and then I realized as I went on that there were many other poets reading/writing similarly to me—which made me happy, especially considering how insular writing is as a general experience. I’m glad to share a community with such witty/thoughtful/dirty writers. We need more female anthologies (see also I’ll Drown My Book or Not For Mothers Only), I think. There are plenty of male-dominated anthologies… let’s have some more female-dominated ones.
MC: Favorite feminist poet(s), living or dead?
GK: Dead = Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Stacy Doris. Living = Aase Berg, Ariana Reines, you, Amick Boone, Chelsey Minnis, Lisa Robertson, Tytti Heikkinen, Harryette Mullen, Lara Glenum, Feng Sun Chen, Cathy Park Hong… I’m afraid of lists because I’m always afraid I’ll forget someone.
MC: Last awesome feminist poetry book you read?
GK: So I am pretty picky when it comes to poetry books—I tend to like a few poems from a collection—but not the entire book… which sort of negates what I said in my earlier answer to your second question..
Hm, lately I’ve been reading poems randomly online. I don’t know if that’s a function of me working too much as a speech therapist/not having the attention span for a book after work, or if it’s due to an overall technological/societal shift to e-reading that I’m participating in.
I am currently reading the Not for Mothers Only anthology (mentioned earlier). I bought it years ago but never read it because I wasn’t ready to then/none of it registered with me… Since I find myself now married and at an age where many of my peers are having babies—which I find extraterrestrial/interesting in an anthropological way (since I lack the desire to have children), it’s refreshing to read multiple female poets’ perspectives on childbirth/rearing/getting/not getting. Totally un-saccharine and surprising and at times, depressing and beautiful all at once.
MC: Favorite girl band, “chick flick,” or reality TV show (or all of the above)?
GK: Fave girl band = I like Pharmakon but she’s one person. Also, Angel Olsen. Chick flick = Carrie (does that count as a chick flick?). Also, Clueless (I liked the clothes and its sort of Shakespearean valley speak). Reality TV show = I’m ashamed to say, Kardashians—but here’s why—I’m actually estranged from my sister (long/sad story) so it makes me vicariously happy to watch the sisters be there for each other/fight then make up/etc.