cover image Trickster Feminism

Trickster Feminism

Anne Waldman. Penguin, $20 (141p) ISBN 978-0-14-313236-3

Acclaimed poet Waldman (Voice’s Daughter of a Heart Yet To Be Born) plumbs the variations and nuances of female subjectivity and paths to liberation through the performance of words and rituals. In her opener, “trick o’ death,” she lambastes capitalism as “the titular rape mode of quest & scheme,” directing readers to meet her “on the other edge of town” in order to hatch a plot to “take down the big horrible men.” Waldman references such mythical female figures as the Lady of the Lake, Callisto, and the Gorgons while crafting legends of her own, including one involving a coven of women living underground, plotting revolution: “maybe we could have a parable about craving soil under avenues, hope & fear. Times of the chthonic.” She suggests that readers “secede from the vocabulary they give you” and provides her own view of what this might look like through poems that tend to be long meditations on a theme, but which vary widely in form. Waldman’s erudite and experimental language is notable in such poems as “entanglement,” where she riffs on the names of famous women writers, i.e., “Wall stone craft” and “Auld tray lured.” The collection is fragmentary and obtuse, even for Waldman, and requires some decoding, but the subtext is a rich and stirring commentary on feminine empowerment. [em](July) [/em]