Jenny Zhang

Three of My Favorite Poems Presently


These are three of my favorite poems presently…

The first is “Punctuate Please!” by Carina Finn. Carina is a girl, and her poem is really tiny and small, the way girls are. Capital letters aren’t accepted, and it takes up one line. But that line (which is an endstop) is sharp. Here is the poem in its entirety:

“this browniemix in me makes me want to die.”

Browniemix is yummy, much more so than actually brownies (although those aren’t un-yummy), since, with the added eggs and water, it resembles soup. Only this soup doesn’t taste of Williamsburg vegetables or murdered animals. This soup tastes sweet and sugary. There can never be enough browniemix in my tummy. I could eat it infinitely. In this light, browniemix and death correlate, as, unlike liberal agendas, they last forever.

(I also wish to point out how Carina has turned “browniemix” into one word.)

The second poem is by Jenny Zhang. It’s called “Comefarts.” Though Jenny is a girl (like Carina), Jenny’s poem tackles a topic that is inapplicable to girls, which is caca. Do Jane Eyre, Catherine Earnshaw, or Agnes Grey ever speak about such things? No. So Jenny is breaching proper girl behavior.

But Jenny’s poem does adhere to some girl traits. Girls are obsessed with themselves. They are invariably glaring in the mirror, reapplying their lipstick, and adjusting their hair bows. Jenny unveils this preoccupation in the middle of her poem, where line after line starts with “I.”

Also, by speaking so effusively (as girls do) about caca, Jenny heeds what Julia Kristeva does, which is that caca is everywhere, and you can try and flush it down the toilet and be silent about it, but, if you eat food, like browniemix, then it’ll return. While caca is inferior to browniemix, it’s superior to human beings, and I like how Jenny is as ecstatic about what leaves her tushy as Walt Whitman is about people.

The third poem is by a boy, Clark Coolidge. “Down at Granny’s Cave” is one of Clark’s 88 sonnets. It’s very violent. This is how it starts: “Anyone interested in art is welcome to shoot up the place.” Massacres are the most marvelous variety of art. What the two boys in Columbine Colorado enacted has 1001 times more artistry than any workshop poem. Eric and Dylan staged a sensational show, while those workshop poems are just weird.

Throughout Clark’s poems, tumult reigns: “an iron clock interrupts the grammar lessons” and there’s thumbtacks in somebody’s coffee. The iron clock correlates to the Iron Curtain and Stalinist Russia and all the misery that his gulags and purges produced. And I’d put thumbtacks in every single Capitalist’s cup of coffee, because then they’d be harmed, which means they couldn’t spread their stupid social media apps any longer.

Clark’s poem concludes: “the creek turns into a reservoir and explodes.” There’s lots to explode nowadays, like the Bartlet administration. Their liberal empathy and resigned sarcasm is obnoxious.


Author Spotlight & I Like __ A Lot & Roundup / Comments Off on Three of My Favorite Poems Presently
November 14th, 2013 / 4:21 pm


25 Points: Dear Jenny, We Are All Find

dearjennyDear Jenny, We Are All Find
by Jenny Zhang
Octopus Books, 2012
116 pages / $12.00 buy from Octopus Books or SPD









“keats was married to vladimir nabakov

they gave birth to my aunt who spoke no Spanish

and colonized all of western Europe

and that’s why michael’s dad ate my left toe leaving me


(“Lifestyle: I Think I Had a Nice Life and Then I Was Doing Weird Things Like Talking About Having a Bad Life”)

2. I started following Jenny Zhang on her blog Fashion For Writers, back in 2007 or something when I made my living selling vintage clothing to places like France for too much shipping and attempting be less insular by people taking photos of what they were wearing in other places. She was in Iowa wearing coats that made me feel like I could survive winter in Ohio and Montreal, where I was planning to move next.

3. Broke and preoccupied with trying to survive winter by books and digging my car out with hot water to get to the thrift store the morning of 50­cent tag day, my Canadian neighbor didn’t own a shovel. “Why doesn’t your city know how to buy salt for their streets?!” I stayed mute and poured water and felt mute that winter, representing a city I had exclusively lived in and identified with and clutched at matryoshka dolls from antique malls lining my shelves and wanting to chuck one at my car for living somewhere that made it requisite.

4. I think I owned, like, 10 vintage coats at one point. I got pretty disgusted with myself that winter.

5. A couple weeks back, Heather Christle re­posted the caddis fly larvae works of Hubert DuPrat in Cabinet Magazine and posited the idea that poems are analogous to sheaths, constructed from details of our shifting environments. I didn’t set out to write a companion essay review, but 25 bullet points are hard to extract from concepts this immaculately presented as external, when poetry is thought of as a “internal” and “emotional” when it communicates a lot like clothing. Here’s the traditional review reaction I had if I felt differently:

6. “Dear Jenny makes me feel so many more creepy­voyeur­fangirl things, like ‘yikes oh yikes I’m exceedingly aware of how we’re reading ancestrally and seeing the sheaths in their past and future relevant form reading anything, into love poems to things and people and continents dead for centuries!!!!!’” Genuinely felt, but I sound twelve.

7. “Family members are resurrected for a second and then blown back to poppy fields before you can say ‘twat.’ Zhang’s incurably dynastic and reads prosaically in its turns and forms, and they’re bratty and fleshly corporeal in each syntactical bowel movement.” Blurb suited for an
Amazon review: discarding.

8. “We are all find she says

bonjour well because

well she is Chinese and anyway

we don’t use R’s”

(“My Mother Leaves Me a Message Where She Pronounces All Romance Languages in a Deep Voice”)

The semiotic problem of “Asian-­American” is the book’s seppuku, which I mean gesturing with misappropriation like Zhang does in so many poems. The inherent difficulty of language in relation to identity as ­American is as blatant as asking “what are you?” to your face, language can answer that anything but in part. If the audiences of the speaker’s voice heard I was from Ohio, they’d think definitely lived near cows and should have a twangy Gummo accent. How many times did I cringe at Harmony Korine’s decision to film in Nashville? Each and every time I moved.

9. It would be better to use a dung beetle analogy instead of the silk casings Octopus Books gives to its larvae. Dear Jenny’s concerns and permutations of scatology is made legitimately profound, or find its profundity is pointed at without making the profane pornographic. Example:

10. “. . .I’ve been coursing through the finite rivers

the smudge of black on yr fingertips and I’m yrs

ya cunt, I’m yrs, yr the cuntiest

cunt I’ve ever cunted” (“Key Phrase”) READ MORE >

1 Comment
March 26th, 2013 / 12:09 pm