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‘These Sentences are getting more complicated in this poem': Leslie Allison Reviews Cecilia Corrigan’s True Beige
Posted up yesterday at HtmlGiant is a review of Cecilia Corrigan’s latest chappie, True Beige (Trafficker Press, 2013). And what an intriguing work, what with pronoun-folds and meta-self-reflexivity, yowzers! Allison guides us into the thicket:
Don’t call me ‘you,’ me!, Cecilia Corrigan commands herself in a startling line from her recent chapbook True Beige (Trafficker Press, 2013). I read this line and totally flipped out. Throughout her voracious and hilariously self-defeating piece, Corrigan weaves similar, self-reflexive threads that jolted me out of my basic assumptions about everyone’s roles in this unspoken contract: the poet writes a poem, bows out, and then the reader reads it. Not in Corrigan’s world. Here, the poet sticks around. Her active gaze follows you everywhere; it makes a subject of you, of the poem, of itself (Cecilia?), of the narrator (separate from Cecilia?), and of other characters, swiftly and freakily, like a demon possessing different hosts.
The poet’s thoughts about the unfolding poem appear often: These Sentences are getting more complicated in this poem, now; The ‘you’ is shifting in the poem; So many abrupt changes in this poem! By reminding the reader of everything that is happening as it is happening, Corrigan creates a real-time temporality that slaps your imagination on the wrist just when you were about to suspend disbelief. Spooky, twisted, and strong, each of these observations seems to be Corrigan’s cannibal who eats her own body.
Through all the complication of selving in True Beige, Allison draws us to Corrigan’s “persistent but complicated feminism,” which
… rings true to the scenarios in the life of a young-privileged-white-academic-female (I would know, I’m one myself). The female narrator fluctuates between outrage (he was looking at my shirt ‘yeah I know it’s see through fuck you I’ll rape you’) and apologetic doubt (sorry to be so negative, does this make any sense?) and a combo of the two (Yeah, I’ve looked at other women. Yeah I hate my body. Ts’a lifestyle choice). A lot of her feminism shoots arrows directly at the patriarchy of the poetry academia scene as well. I delighted in her line Do I sound like Bruce Andrews yet?, a sarcastic jab at the broetry (poetry bro) community that fawns over the straight-white-male poetry canon.