Poetry & reviews by David C. McLean & texts by his wife Jennifer S. Chesler, including collaborative work with McLean. Chesler writes avant garde, postmodern and innovative texts that explore the social & psychological preconditions of modern life. Collaborative work focuses on comedic & philosophical topics combined with deviant sexual expression.
Valente Marys of the Sea
by David McLean
Obviously with a
religious reference in the title, this book is full of powerful
poems that create an alternative mythology for the female body in the
face of abuse & the exigencies of motherhood together with the
obvious alternative, abortion. This is important, since
conceptualization and categorization of items within a reality
influence how one feels able to interact with and/or challenge that
reality. I shall refrain from discussing any feminist message since i
am rather old-school & consider that a man does not have a
feminist consciousness since he cannot, & feminism involves
conscious awareness, with an epistemological privilege that a person
possesses qua oppressed. Were I to do so, then Empire would
speak, not really me. But the dispossession & lack of rootedness
& reality is a general theme, it speaks of the lack of
autochthonousness that marks the deconstructed self, as bodies
scramble in the dirt for identities worth having,.
We are only human,
says Valente, when someone is looking. The self is not something we
have, just like problems aren't something we have outside of a
social context. The main problem with the late-capitalist socius is
that nobody gives a flying fuck who you are: everything, everybody,
every body is an object to be used & exploited; it is a
resource. & again the oppressed oppress best. It is “some of
the women in town” who want Mary punished, just as it is women who
very often insist on FGM.
The book is full
of perfect references to other poetry. I want to quote in full one
short poem that like one that I myself did more verbosely is a
tribute “Lullaby” by Auden. Valente's sampling is much better,
Humans, yr sleeping head lies
on arms with no bones.
burn beauty away
with time. Children prove it true.
For now, lie here in my arms
our guilt entirely
(Lullaby on the Half Shell)
I don't read much
poetry anymore. This might sound exaggerated, but Valente's poems are
a sort of belated consolation for the death of Sylvia Plath. I think
they're that good, & you would be a fool not to read them.