Friday, February 14, 2014

Sexy Poetry!

For one of my classes I am reading a book of poetry called “Country Between Us” by a very skilled poet named Carolyn Forche. She can turn a phase, believe me that. Of Americans she says:

“It is/that you were born to an island of greed/and grace where you have this sense/of yourself as apart from others.”

So obviously she’s not a rah-rah-rah happy-happy-times poet, but she’s good at what she does.

What’s interesting about her then, is what she does. What she does is write poetry that’s basically a kind of tragedy porn. She writes about Eastern Europe after WWII and it feels exactly gray enough. When she writes about the civil war in El Salvador what she ends up producing is some of the most fearful and disturbing lines I’ve ever read about oppression and torture, or just generally:

“Tell them about the razor, the live wire,/dry ice and concrete, grey rats and above all/who fucked her, how many times and when./Tell them about retaliation: Jose lying/on the flat bed truck, waving his stumps/in your face, his hands cut off by his/captors and thrown to the many acres/of cotton, lost, still and holding/the last few lumps of leeched earth.”

She also goes overboard from time to time. She has a poem called “Endurance” and while it doesn’t suck, it seems to deal with how hard it is for her to adjust to generally civil American life after having been in these awful and war torn places, but she doesn’t seem to be able to disengage from her muse-of-human-suffering voice when she talks about coming back from Germany to New York and then Virginia. She says:

“the Roanoke valley/where mountains hold the breath/of the dead between them”

And that’s when I was all like, “Lady, calm the fuck down. I’ve seen those mountains and they’re goddamn gorgeous.”

But the only reason I’m wasting your time with all of this, is this: despite her passion for poetry that makes me want to cram a phillips head screwdriver through my face, she wrote a few massively sexy lines and I think that she probably doesn’t even know it because they’re sandwiched in between a couple stanzas that are DEEP and MEANINGFUL and TRAGIC and STUFF.

In academia I would get my ass kicked for cherry picking lines like this, but I don’t actually care. Here are a few lines from a poem called, “Photography of My Room”. These are the sexy lines and the only sexy lines in the poem:

“In the notebooks you will find/those places: the damp inner thighs,/the delicate rash left by kisses,/fingers on the tongue, a swallow/of brandy, a fire.”

How hot is that? That’s some Fifty Shades of Grey stuff, but with better words!

I’m not going to talk anymore. I just want you to have some time to read those lies again.