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In Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, Stein catalogued the domestic objects that influenced her female identity. She writes, A Box, A Plate, A Frightful Release, Objects, Careless Water, Roast Beef, Mutton, Single Fish, Rooms, Buttons and a lot more. Each object relies first on its domestic connotation in order to then be re-imagined in Stein’s perverse poetic transmission of it. Stein’s buttons are simultaneously analogues and object manifestations of the female experience. Her poems both underscore the ridiculousness of glorifying the domestic by breaking with the Victorian obsession with adoring things and liberate the things themselves from our obsession with them. In liberating her objects, she symbolically liberates herself and the other women who, at the fore of the modern era, would read her book.
In Monica McClure’s Tender Data, a book of poems whose title clearly conjures Stein, McClure also catalogues objects, but exchanges Stein’s domestic objects for contemporary cultural ones. She bounces between her own lineage of female writers (Kathy Acker, Mina Loy, Willa Cather, Jeanette Winterson); cultural signifiers of the cosmopolitan elite (Cipriani, St. Tropez, Mercedes Benz Fashion week, W Magazine, Park Slope); the female healthcare debate (fertility, abortion, Plan B); and finally the average American Consumer (Coca-Cola, TJ Maxx, VH1, New York Dolls). However, Tender Data does not appear to be written with the intention, as in Stein’s case, of subverting these cultural objects, but rather is obsessed with them, reflecting society’s ongoing obsession. McClure takes us on a complex journey of objects and subjects that are desperate for a liberation poetry may not be able to give. Continue reading
Happy Valentine’s Day, weird sister cupids! Revisit our Valentine’s Day content for feminist perspectives on celebrating female friendship, rejecting rom-coms, and more. Also, check out these feminist Valentine’s Day cards (Ovaries Before Brovaries, anyone?), and why not #treatyoself to the perfect sex toys for some extra-spesh V-Day self love?
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In literary news, The Amelia Bloomer Project List recommends feminist books for young people. Check out the new 2015 list here. Continue reading
With the new year comes a new crop of totally amazing reads. Here are some I can’t wait to get my hands on:
1) Where the Words End and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn
(Arsenal Pulp Press)
Amber Dawn’s known for her award-winning memoir How Poetry Saved My Life and her novel Sub Rosa, which reads like a feminist pulp novel/fairytale about sex workers. Where the Words End and My Body Begins, Dawn’s first book of poems, pays homage to legendary and emerging queer poets including Gertrude Stein, Christina Rossetti, and Adrienne Rich with a series of poems written in the 15th-century Spanish glosa form.
2) Houses by Nikki Wallschlaeger
I love how Nikki Wallschlaeger’s poems travel from building to building, room to room, from the exterior to the interior, from the often female-embodied everyday to the vast and looming social world that surrounds us, filled with problems and possibilities: “I have children that need lunches in the morning so I love them best. I also love lipstick and Europe, and the things that dead men say.”
Wallschlaeger’s first full-length book Houses is coming this May. Until then read some of her knockout poems here and here and here.