Review #65: ‘Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals’ by Patricia Lockwood

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  • COLDFRONT RATING: three-half
  • PUBLISHED BY: Penguin, 2014
  • REVIEW BY: Timothy Liu

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Last summer, Patricia Lockwood’s “Rape Joke” went viral. Since then, her Twitter following is now pushing 30,000 (where you can also read her infamous “sexts”). Indeed, one might want to unofficially crown her our Internet Poet Laureate! If she comes to your town, you’ll want to catch her in performance; more than a pixie haircut decked out in mod garb, she’s a sardonic comedic intelligence to be reckoned with. Here however, her sophomore publication is just that, sophomoric, not because the best poems (listed below) aren’t knockouts but because the rest of the book is buzzkill. Lockwood relies heavily on repetition, and when it’s uninspired (or worse, not funny or captivating), one must suffer through longueurs:  “You walk to school and sit next / to a girl who was born with a tail and you copy off / her. You rub your temples when they ache, rub any / of your body when it aches, you seem to be only / a series of places where animal parts could emerge. / Soon you will be a teenager, and soon you will be / so greasy, and how can you hardly wait, because: / its grease makes the animal graceful, and go. You go / to the petting zoo with your class and timidly reach / in a hand.” And on it goes. One can understand Penguin wanting to zero in on the phenomenon that Lockwood has become, but why not make her fan base wait while she matures into the artist that she is destined to become?

Disclosures: A couple of new poems I heard her recently read at the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival (“Government Spending” and “What Is the Zoo for What”) are as fine as anything she’s done but why are they absent from these pages when you can find them available online? One suspects that a little more editorial guidance would’ve made for a publishing event to live up to all the hype.

Favorites: Revealing Nature Photographs, Love Poem Like We Used To Write It, Why Haven’t You Written, Rape Joke, The Hornet Mascot Falls In Love, Perfect Little Mouthfuls, The Father and Mother of American Tit-Pics.

In case you missed it, you can read Lockwood’s “Rape Joke” at The Awl.