Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky: What is between us

Notes on her recent work

Dorothea Lasky, photo by Dorothea Lasky

Poems about the poems themselves, such as “Gender,” tempt us to underestimate or even to dismiss metapoetical claims: “I write poems about boobs and dicks.” This is of course deceptive, a misdirection, because ultimately, in every Lasky poem, the words (and overall the voicings of ecstatic, troubled experience) come as a remedy for language’s absence as otherwise the expected state. “I write poems about boobs and dicks,” yes, “But my anger comes not from this / But from being silenced / So that I hate what they like / Not listening to me / So that I could go on and on.”

Coming after a long literary history of poetry meant to idealize solutions to human problems and concerns — even if such fixes are only to be imagined — poets such as Hannah Weiner,  John Wieners, Bernadette Mayer, Laynie Browne, Lee Ann Brown, and Dorothea Lasky explore the seemingly hopeless, seemingly “low” (or at least "daily") underside. The strength of their work as a poetics has derived from explorations of emotional detritus, (masks of) self-loathing, sexual frankness, etc.

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