cover image There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé

There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé

Morgan Parker. Tin House, $14.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-941040-53-9

Employing fierce language and eschewing fear of unflattering light, Parker (Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night) pays homage to the deep roots and collective wisdom of black womanhood. In “13 Ways of Looking at a Black Girl,” Parker reflects the rippling noise facilitated by patriarchy and white supremacy. Her word choices—“sex,” “sassy,” “low-income,” “mean,” “exotic,” etc.—emphasize the way that black women are dehumanized and objectified through language. It’s a representative example of Parker’s vision of how a woman’s identity can be shaped by the labels forced upon her. In “Freaky Friday Starring Beyoncé and Lady Gaga,” the two pop stars are posed not as adversaries but as host and parasite; Lady Gaga becomes a metaphor for white supremacy’s theft of black culture and its compulsion to discredit black genius. Parker writes, “I’d miss my booty/ in your butt/ would hate/ to reach back/ and find history/ borrowed not branded.” She also examines self-doubt in the roiling poem “The President’s Wife,” wondering “What does beautiful cost do I afford it/ Do I roll off the tongue/ Is America going to be sick.” Parker’s poems are as flame-forged as a chain locked around soft ankles. Agent: Dan Kirschen and Tina Wexler, ICM. (Feb.)