Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Lara Glenum, SNOW



A witch baby

I blubber out
into empire’s hooks

I warble out
a curl-i-cue girlsong

Swipe left to abort
my future
Swipe right

& Kerpow
I level up

to a darkbright
mutinous new world

I’m absolutely fascinated by Louisiana poet Lara Glenum’s latest, the lively insistence of her full-length collection SNOW (Notre Dame IN: Action Books, 2024), following The Hounds of No (Action Books, 2005), Maximum Gaga (Action Books, 2009), Pop Corpse! (Action Books, 2013) and All Hopped Up On Fleshy Dumdums (Spork Press, 2013). Composed as grotesque reimagining, all sexy and swagger, of the Snow White tale, the poems of Glenum’s SNOW are gestural, guttural and performative, provocative and large. “Why is female pleasure such a threat,” she writes, to close the poem “DANCE CARD,” “Darling / You’re really a very dull beast / An insult to leaping animals // A travesty to skipping girls [.]” Glenum’s SNOW offers quite a different approach from fairy tale reimaginings such as Jessica Q. Stark’s Buffalo Girl (Rochester NY: BOA Editions, 2023) [see my review of such here] or Katie Fowley’s The Supposed Huntsman (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021) [see my review of such here], not to mention the array of dozens of poets working far more delicate variations on other well-known myths and fables. “Mother is bleeding up new crime scenes,” she writes, to open the poem “THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL,” “Her poisonfingers drawing lethal rings around snapping necks / Mother is toxic lethal contagion / & I’m a corrupt copy / of her ambivalent love [.]” The strength of any story, so they say, is in its mutability, and Glenum offers a variation on Snow White that is theatrical, pulsed and even staccato; eight sections reveling in the performative gesture to the point that such a poetry title could be directly adapted for the stage. The poem-sections, also, are almost set as scenes across her book-length performance--“LET IT SNOW,” “MIRROR! MIRROR!,” “PALACE DAYS,” “MIDWINTER BALL,” “THE HUNT’S AFOOT,” “THE POISON LODGE,” “GLASS COFFIN” and “GOODBYE”—each poem within composed as a speaking part by one of the book’s central characters. As the poem “MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPER” reads:

I’m a doozie
of a wild witch
            Kween of the Undermundo            I fake out deathstars
                        with my magyk mirror
Heads roll & pump
sex grease
            in tribute to my booty

So I drink the blood of virgins
So what
Who doesn’t
                        That’s patriarchy for you     who am I
            to claim I’m on the outside
                                    So I’m a bottom-feeder So the heck what
Bottom’s up!
can only mean one thing
                        when there’s a boot on your neck

The characters are rich, textured and animated, nearly cartoonish in their depictions. Curiously, the collection was previously titled, according to her author biography via the Poetry Foundation website, “White Trashed: A Snow White Story,” and Glenum offers a pulsing narrative of sexy, savage accumulations of cosplay and punk, swirling a teenaged Snow White across a propulsive lyric of “wet bone and seeping eros” as she battles the Evil Kween for her very survival. This is, after all, a book about agency. Each poem reveals another unfolding of the narrative, akin to a poker hand, one card at a time, each one playing off the one that came before. “I’m okay I’m loaded,” she writes, to close the poem “PUNK DEBUTANTE,” “with weeping insects / I can live without medics // or even a home / I’m just a weeping animal // in dire need of a disco bullet / to my singing skullmeat [.]”


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