Muzzle Thyself

Lauren Fairbanks, Author Dalkey Archive Press $9.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-916583-74-3
Fairbanks's debut poems affront readers with sordid scenarios and elliptical literary fragments. Each poem is a junk heap of sorts, piled high with discarded words and useless imagery. A bitter poem about menstruation is exemplary: ``Blooded orifice / Clotting factors / Squirming Catholics / Cauterize / Tourniquet / Quit.'' Much of the poet's work here has a feminist slant, but her ideas are so heavily encoded in narcissistic language that we have no clue as to her true feelings about the oppression of the female sex. In one poem, a woman denigrates herself as a way of disengaging emotionally from a man who no longer wants her: ``If I loved you in passing / no love was intended. / I'm a waste can for sperm of the moment / with a tipped lid.'' Writing in a savagely ironic voice, the poet demonstrates an abusive attitude toward members of her own sex. A woman in love is a ``bitch,'' a woman who has casual sex is a ``slit.'' Yet without any insight into the psychology of chauvinistic abuse, Fairbanks comes off as smug and self-righteous, as if she has transcended, by way of her art, the degradation that she so thrills to portray. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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