Poetry News

Poets in New York Daily News Feature Respond to Backlash

By Harriet Staff

Trisha Low. Photo by Lawrence Schwartzwald

One to watch at Montevidayo: The poets featured in the New York Daily News profile we pointed to have responded to some of the criticism that was leveled their way upon publication (much of the rub occurred on Facebook but was elaborated upon at Luna Luna Magazine).

Lara Glenum interviewed Camille Rankine, Monica McClure, Ana Božičević, Trisha Low, and Lisa Marie Luna Basile. "I asked each of them the same set of five questions. Some of the women preferred to answer specific questions; others chose to write their own essays." The responses will be posted serially. Trisha Low and Monica McClure's responses are already up. From Low:


I’m not interested in defending, devoting myself to any agenda, extolling the virtues of any manifesto or dogma or explaining what’s already been speculated about more than enough. The article was unfortunate for itself in many ways, simply a bit of fun for those who agreed to be in it, and unexpectedly painful for others, which I am sorry for. But let’s not place and replace the burdens of representation in such a specified locus or drown one or two of us or those in the vicinity of by noosing any rocks to any necks. In the immortal words of Etta James, like every other part of life, it’s man’s world. Let’s not make any lies to each other about how poetry’s a land of security and opportunity for women or that we can all get on the same page without bitterness or vitriol; unbound to our own personal histories of abuse (and experiences with) in and beyond poetry.

I feel lucky there’s been a very diverse set of practices and work that’s grown out of a shared set of feminist concerns and it’s an exciting time to be involved in that conversation. I think that woman to woman relationships continue to be really complicated in what’s essentially still a boys’ club, that there’s sometimes still a sense of ‘there can only be one [woman]‘ syndrome. But also like, whatever, we can continue be to be honest with each other about our affinities, competitions, jealousies, bitternesses &c&c&c. with respect – all the complexities of real relationships between people with ambitions and stakes and desires rather than any trite insistence on ‘sisterhood for a cause’. My work doesn’t function without an opposing feminist/marxist/materialist critique from others whom I love and respect for counterbalance and I would hope vice versa. Anyway, let’s not reduce, but i mean let’s, especially when we want to make a point. Ultimately, just like how they said at last comi-con, our work isn’t done, so nobody sit down, but jesus, nobody start screeching about how you can’t sit with us either. “Do you have a utopian vision of the future? you ask me. i got a fucking utopian vision of the present”, Dorothy Allison says....

McClure chose to respond to each question. A grab:


4) What have been your thoughts and feelings around the uproar over the article?

It all felt misplaced. My poetry is nothing if not a reproach to the male gaze.You have to enact feminism on inclusionary terms because it’s too intersectional to be done correctly.

My thought is that the uproar was a rehash of second wave white feminist politics in what Becca aptly called Poetryville. As strange as this analogy is, an example that always pops up when I ponder the impossibility of really escaping one’s body: when Kanye West interrupted a pretty white girl at the Grammy’s and the white supremacist world rejoiced because he’d just proved them right: he really was a jack ass. Yet if he had always minded his manners, he would have been another part of the myth of post-racism and the American Dream.

To be an image accessible to publicity, a story in yourself, is, as odd as it sounds, a way to keep the death of the author alive. This whole thing made me ultra aware that it’s the strength of the work that keeps us from becoming cyphers. This is not an apology for the pretty girl in poetry. It could work just as well as a theory of the ugly girl in the poetry world. This is just to say it was important.

I’ve got a younger sister whose body I wish to protect. I can’t snatch it from her when she posts an instagram picture of herself on the beach. I can’t tell her not to enjoy it. She already knows the toll it takes to be looked at and must navigate it for herself.

Keep your eyes on Montevidayo for more.

Originally Published: January 6th, 2014