Spotlight: Locked Horn Press (part 6 of 8)


cjevansColdfront is featuring responses from Locked Horn Press’ Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics where poets respond to broad questions regarding the relationship between gender and poetics. When CJ Evans was asked if poetry can and should be a tool used to explore gender, he replied:

Poetry can explore gender in language, just as it can explore class and race and politics and isolationism and the internet. I don’t mean that to sound flip. I’m saying that I don’t think poetry is (or ever really was) a driver of political discourse. If you want something tangible, you should start a grassroots nonprofit. I don’t think VIDA would have been successful if its mission had been represented in verse rather than pie charts. But poetry is a place to explore what makes us too comfortable. As an editor, I actively seek gender balance, but as a poet I challenge myself, and hope, through the public display of that challenge, the reader then challenges their own comforts. The ′′power′′ of poetry, the legislative power of it, lies in its ability to skew the sightline to re-present the world as it is, to make the norms of language and society louder and more apparent.

Is it enough for me to think about my own gender biases in my poems? No, absolutely not. As an editor, as a poet, and as a person, it’s my responsibility to politically challenge my community, to support and engage and speak out against gender bias. But in some ways that’s the easy part. As a male writer, it’s important to attack how I speak to and about my children. To admit that I’m imperfect and do it publicly. To be honest and inquisitive in my shortcomings, my failures, and my own imperfect language.

Read CJ’s poem, “Jupiter is Blind,” via Poetry Daily.

*For part 5 of our Spotlight on Locked Horn Press please click here.


CJ Evans is the author of A Penance (New Issues Press, 2012) and The Category of Outcast, selected by Terrance Hayes for the Poetry Society of America’s Chap- book Fellowship. He co-edited, with Brenda Shaughnessy, Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House, and is the editor of Two Lines Press, which publishes con- temporary international literature in translation. The recipient of the 2013 Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, he lives in Aix, France.