cover image Tender Data

Tender Data

Monica McClure. Birds LLC (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-0-9914298-2-0

Quick-witted and bold, McClure’s full-length debut enters the culturally constructed arenas of identity in order to resist and refuse them, arriving at consistently fresh takes on gender, race, and reproduction (among other topics). “Words are there to stop us/ from getting too intimate with continuity/ and recognition,” the title poem announces, and in turn McClure crafts identities that have their own defiant amusement as they rupture that continuity. “I’m brown and yet my whiteness is laminate/ making me a bright smear of a girl over wood,” she declares. “When I’m with a man I feel/ like a gay man/ When I’m with a woman I feel/ like a gay man who is into women.” Wild and witty, McClure uses menses and cum alongside various intoxicants to summon the kind of depravity that can undo structures of power (the entirety of the poem “Straight Dudes” challenges “Why are you/ still here”). It’s an effective form of irreverence, in which the debate over birth control dissipate in the same way “The plan B pill fizzed when I dropped it/ in my dirty martini.” It’s also an irreverence that pushes the boundaries of poetry and persona, with crude drawings, photographs, and poetry-prose hybrids rounding out a multimodal collection. No gesture wasted, McClure’s debut is as smart as it is fun. [em](July) [/em]