by Danielle Lea
Cutie patootie Dorothea Lasky came to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the 2014 Delta Mouth Literary Festival. She was citrus bangles and gemstone clank, reading from Thunderbird, her 2012 poetry collection from Wave Books. Lasky was a high pitch sherberting into the microphone “I Like Weird Ass Hippies” ! “O!” I thought. Oh…Dorothea Lasky’s wonderful. Her presence commands. She had me. Paintings on Baton Rouge Gallery Walls laughed too. Lasky’s work is fresh, crispy, airy, welcome & etc. I kept thinking iceberg lettuce, a lemon squeeze into the contemporary world of poetry. Dorothea Lasky got swag!
She notes Notorious B.I.G a pivotal influence: his clarity, precision, the sanding everyday grit into beauty. Biggie Smalls is one of her desert-island-disk artists. Me, I used to rap “Juicy” daily as a girl and got Ready to Die memorized. Lasky talked the Notorious into interviews and articles with Poetry Society of America and the Poetry Foundation. She explores how power works in a poem. Naturally, wouldn’t an affinity for hip hop follow? It’s a music all bold & boast:
I like weird ass hippies
And men with hairy backs
And small green animals
And organic milk
And chickens that hatch
It’s about empowerment:
I like weird ass stuff
I like your weird ass spirit stick… .
I like when you rub sage on my door
I like the lamb’s blood you throw on my face
It’s about exaltation:
I like cursing out an enemy… .
Soaking their baby tooth in oil
Lighting it on fire with a tiny plastic horse
I like running through the fields of green
I am so caught up in flowers and fruit
I like shampooing my body
It’s about aggression:
And tell me I’m a man
I am a fucking man
A weird ass fucking man
It’s about exuberance, about consciousness, about the hyper-electric ability to liberate:
So get your cut-up heart away from
What you think you know
You know, we are all going away from here
At least have some human patience
For what lies on the other side
Luciana Rondolini’s Bedazzled Banana
In a fantastic 2009 Jacket2 review, Robert Dewurst dubbed Dorothea as “radically literal,” and:
Besides Biggie, I’m unaware of any writer who has inhabited Charles Olson’s performative kinetics of “projective verse” to such an embodied extreme as she has. In high school, Lasky competed the 3,200-meter long-distance run for her outdoor track team, and when she read in Buffalo last February she had to pause between verses of shouting AWE, AWE AND LOVE to ask a girl in the audience for a Gatorade.
Somewhere along the line, Dorothea Lasky grew into Mountain Dew. Robert Dewust continues:
Maggie Nelson has recently written that Eileen Myles’s naked incorporation of private and metabolically charged lyric disclosures into scenes of live performance has worked to “transform the boundaries of what kinds of claims on public space a female poet can make.” When Lasky deadpans loud lines… . she further extends this same stage into what Thom Donovan has called a form of “biopolitical theater.” Within it, the poet’s startling voice creates an affective, material immediacy between herself and the audience that riskily opens the room up to an unprecedented sort of anti-identitarian, emotional access to her writing.
Apologies, I almost re-essayed the whole essay. Thank you for coming to Baton Rouge, Dorothea Lasky! What joy. May your spinal fluid keep glittering, your lungs confetti’ing. Bold on~
I give up / But it is a sweet giving up / Knowing instead I will be the best poet that has ever lived / While all those people in love / Will simply die in one another’s arms / While I will die in the world’s arms.
Photo courtesy of BOMB magazine
Dorothea Lasky’s collections include AWE (2007, Wave Books), Black Life, (2010, Wave Books), Thunderbird (2012, Wave Books) and Rome (Liveright, 2014 forthcoming).