Radish King reviews feign.
Rebecca here is dead on. I've been thinking about what she talks about in the first paragraph about women, for all intensive purposes who think of themsleves as "girls." It might be my refusal to do anything that seems grown up like have "real career" or settle down, but I still call myself a girl, still think of myself in that context. It might also be my tendedncy to call people "guys and girls" instead of the clunkier "women and men." But I do still write poems from that place, adolescense, though I suspect it's because I finally have some distance from what I'm writing about.(Though oddly the fever almanac has alot of adulthood poems in the third section, and is, in itself, a trajectory from childhood, through adolescense, to some semblance of adulthood.) In one of my last meetings with her, Arielle told me to think about this in terms of the new manuscript, but it applies even more in the case of feign, and consequently, in the bird museum. Why is it that most girls conventionally always want to be the princess when playing make believe and never the queen. (We, at least, used to fight over such things). Actually now I'm thinking the antidote to that might be something like Becoming the Villainess.
Does "woman" have more connotations of greater agency than "girl"? Is it truly that a woman makes things happen while a girl has things happen to her. But then again, you can't deny the power that girls tend to have--good or bad--horror movies like the Exorcist and Poltergeist, the Salem girls. There's something very powerful about being a girl that doesn't necessarily translate into womanhood (except maybe when it comes to the evil queen. And that's a whole trope worthy of it's own study--think fairytales, and Guinevere, and Medusa, and the White Goddess) Part of that is tied up in sexuality. In the male gaze. In fear and anxiety over the body. Does it also have to do with mothers, whether you see yourself as daughter, as motherless, as a mother yourself? Mind you, I have no answers here, or maybe the poems are trying to answer this hopefully...
I'm really happy that Rebecca's response was "unsettling dread," because that's probably the place these poems come from. There was a period of time when I had to stop watching the news. Every time I turned it on something awful was happening to someone female, girl or woman. One newscast went from the girl who dissappeared from a college campus, a woman beat to death by her boyfreind in Chicago, a four year old who was abducted, and something about the JonBenet ramsey case. Every other story was something bad happening, usually, to a girl. These poems come from there but they also come from things like Buffy, and horror movies where the girls survive. Girls that, yes, are not really girls, but hind behind innocense, or pretend innocense and then plunge the knife in your back when you're not looking.
Girls that might on occasion play dumb. Play coy. But always get what they want.