January 31, 2005

Feminist Poetry, or If You

Feminist Poetry, or If You Don't Look Good, Blame Capitalism

Perhaps, dear reader, like us, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” you have a subscription to 13th Moon, which bills itself as “a feminist literary magazine.” Housed at SUNY Albany’s renowned Department of English, 13th Moon has everything a tin-eared feminist masquerading as a poetaster would desire.

Allow us, dear reader, to offer an example. Whilst eagerly taking in the 2003 number of 13th Moon, one of the junior editors here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—came across a landmark work of inept feminist balladry.

The poem, entitled “Beauty Worship Cult,” was penned by one J. Aspen Azaria. Our friends at 13th Moon offer the following description of Ms. Azaria, to which we have affixed our own humble commentary:

J. Aspen Azaria is a writer and visual artist for more than fifteen years.

Geez. Even this first sentence is vaguely ungrammatical. We don’t mean to quibble with the prose of a long-time visual artist, but shouldn’t this read “J. Aspen Azaria has been a writer and visual artist for more than fifteen years”?

Her art and writing reflect female oppression.

Oh, brother. (Or should that be Oh, sister?) Depending on who reads her poetry, her writing can inflict male or female oppression.

J. Aspen Azaria is a native of Colorado and a single mother with two sons.

Aha! So that’s why “Aspen” is her middle name. Watch out, James “Danger” Bond; here comes J. “Aspen” Azaria!

With a bio that good, dear reader, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” were certainly expecting some great poetry. And we got more than our fill on pages 14 and 15 of 13th Moon, which offers the aforementioned ballad, “Beauty Worship Cult.” As Laurence Welk might say, it goes a little something like this:

Beauty Worship Cult

How I look is important
because what I say is not
Worse than being mortal
I am woman
I bleed
I age
I give birth
to life’s imperfections
Imperfection is sin
if I cannot be perfect
be beautiful
I should rather be invisible
or paint on product perfect
luminosity to hypno-trip
I must divide
and conquer
with my ephemeral eternal;
physical presence
because my internal
intellectual under-glow radiance
is immaterial to
prescribed visions of
exalted angelic faces
of supermodel saviors
trying to keep me in line
behind the cosmetic counter
Capitalist controllers
the guardian of my beauty value
I am sanctioned and separated by
deliberately disorienting
depictions of my body
down casting my soul into
body bondage
Enslaved to the doctrine of image
Bound to the beauty book
like some divine pronouncement
I am ordained the omnipotent
queen of beauty bounty
briefly before reality renders me
flawed and shamed
into seeking salvation in a bottle
I am made up like a mascot
my material much too mass-ive [sic]
for marriage or money manifestation
Starvation is the only purification
into skeletal sanctity
My skin-shell is my protection
is my passport
into the sacred realm of obsession
the formulated female form
Soceity’s vested interest
In woman as object
If I am not a textbook beauty
then what will save my soul
from the profane sin
of unregulated ugliness
or the condemnation of mediocrity
What am I
if I am not beautiful

As far as we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” can tell, Ms. Azaria is trying to inform us that she is unattractive. Or perhaps fat. And somehow capitalism is to blame.

We don’t want to become complicit in “the condemnation of mediocrity,” so let us offer our earnest appraisal of Ms. Azaria’s talents: We may use the word “feculent” a lot, but we can’t think of a better adjective to describe this horrendous Women’s Lib aesthetic calamity.

Although we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” did not enjoy Ms. Azaria’s attempt at poetry, we don’t want to be a bunch of spoilsports. As such, we shall pick out our favorite line from the poem: “with.”

That has a real ring to it.

Posted at January 31, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack