I often wonder how the feminist icon Sylvia Plath would have written had she been born in the 1970s or 80s. Often lauded as the head of a movement so blinded, that they chipped her name off her headstone, Plath seems rather a saintly figure remembered as an unfortunate “victim” at the hands of her husband. But what about the poetry? Ah, the poetry…
There seems a new generation of American women poets taking up Plath’s poetic mantle, who are writing as though their lives depended upon it. Lara Konesky is no exception. Unaware of her work until this Grievous Jones book, I am glad to meet her acquaintance. This handsome book saddled with an enticing cover of a woman, pierced belly button and holding a gun over her naked crotch, sets the tone at once. These poems are raw, powerful, sexy and cut to the chase. With an impressive conciseness, Konesky powers through the shorter poems like a woman on a mission.
The poem ‘Porn’ is worth quoting in full as it not only highlights Lara’s tone and sense of humour, but I sense an underlying poetics, the poetics of honesty.
I was trying to seduce you.
But you already jerked off twice today to internet
I guess I should be grateful you aren’t cheating,
I didn’t even mean to do that.
This compositional honesty is hinted at throughout the book and draws the reader to the poet. From recently ‘meeting’ Lara I feel as though I could happily spend an hour or two cracking open a bottle of Famous Grouse and talking poetry and life and life and poetry.
Making poetry out of experience is nothing new, (see Plath) but making poetry out of these kinds of experiences is I feel, part of the post-post-modern condition of being a woman poet writing in the USA today. Of course, I’d know all about that being a male poet based in Liverpool! What I mean to say is, these poems offer a refreshing perspective of what it means to be young, attractive and talented living and experiencing the world as we live in it today.
Lara Konesky’s strengths run wider than writing poems about her boyfriend’s jerking off over porn, pill popping, texting and sex. The poem ‘Tears’ is beautiful in its simplicity:
I think she has the flu…she has been in the
bathroom for years
I think she fell in love with you
she is busy flushing tears
As the great Puma Perl says in her rear-cover blurb, ‘hot chicks/never die/they watch/and wait’, well, I for one, despite not being a hot chick, will be waiting eagerly to see what Konesky’s next move will be. As a debut collection, this is as strong and as powerful, and as worthy as they come. Highly, highly, recommended. Sylvia would be proud.
-reviewed by AT
(note: Grievous Jones never reviews any of our books "in house", reviews are only presented by writers not associated with, or published by GJ Press)