I bet there are prettier photos of Brooklyn today covered in snow, but here is a view from my window. I took the dog out, but she wasn’t standing for it. She quite quickly completed her morning duties and then waited to be carried in again.
But that’s not why I’ve returned this morning, gentle interlopers & friends. I awoke thinking about the image I posted to suggest reading the latest issue of MiPo. It was kind of disingenious of me, no? I mean, the woman isn’t really reading; she’s clearly posing in a good old fashioned coy way. We’re pretty much supposed to notice her derriere and other accoutrements. Did I mean for you to align yourself with her in a state of reading or to desire her “reading”? The plot thickens…
Well, I might be opening a entire pickle barrel, but I think it’s fun to put your whole arm in once in awhile, feel around, and wonder what squishy things you might pull out. Enough with the bad metaphor. Seriously, did my pairing of poetry and the nubile bottom below raise any eyebrows? Cause anyone to pause? Not even make your radar? No, silly, not out of prudishness! But because I’ve summoned up the consumer condition and reduced poetry to product status!
Did I do that though? We sell with images daily. Each image comes to have a history; a chihuahua coupled with a sombrero recalls, “Yo quiero Taco Bell!” Images of sexy ladies turn on our conditioned consumer responses: 1. How do I look like that? or 2. How can I get with her?, which automatically entails purchasing said product to satisfy either answer in the affirmative, one hopes.
So there is the reduction of the product, in this case a poetry magazine, to an easy purchase that is ready to be consumed for a readymade purpose. But isn’t poetry the antithesis of consumerism in some ways? Don’t poets often work through the culture, figuring out how to show its manipulations and upset them in strange, stand-out ways? So when I frame the poetry in the box of consumer product via the lady below, am I limiting or broadening the possibilities for insurrection?
Must poets remain aloof & hands-off of the obvious machinations? Are we, after all, not as tainted as the rest? Could I have been more clever with my little framing below? Does the fact that poetry is free mean that it isn’t a product? Does poetry deal with freedom? Is it free? Am I being disingenuous again?
I realize this box of worms was opened last summer by a well-known poetry magazine, but hey, I’m late in the game. Plus I like to look at photos of women pretending some literary affiliation/affliction. What does that make me? A product of my culture? A product of my own afflictions? Is there a cure? Can poetry remedy me?
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.