Thursday, March 10, 2011

the poet fashionista

There has been a bit of of a kerfluffle in poetry corners over this:

I kept thinking as I was looking at it that it would have been much cooler if they had featured the poets in their actual clothes, to have revealed something more about their individual style rather than shove them like mannequins into rather awful over-priced duds, the "latest trends", and talk about them in vapid ad copy language. (also, the idea of a $300 sweater does seem a little optimistic when you consider most poets will barely ever earn even that much from their writing ever.) It also raises issues about the perception of women poets as commodities (ie, why weren't there any stylish men among them? Is it simply because it's a woman's mag, or is it something more sinister?). Questions about art vs. artifice, style vs. substance.

I, admittedly, am a visual arts oriented person who gets into a certain amount of fashion related stuff, so at first I was excited by the idea (and maybe would have remained so had it been better executed.)--the intersection of clothes and identity and creativity. (I realize discussions like that would most likely be above the Oprah loving throngs, but in an ideal world, it would be part of the conservation.) I suppose it's no different than fashion speads featuring investment bankers or astrophysicists, since we are bound to ask what the hell do clothes have to do with any of these things. I like the intersection of incongruent things though. It is interesting to think about poets, as people who spend most of their lives in their heads, being people immersed in material culture. I love a pretty dress (as my forays on Fashion Fridays reveal) and some of those clothes are pricey, but I'm usually going more for loving a certain look than the actual items. I would actually probably rather see a feature on poets living and creating spaces than about what they wear, though, since the former might be a little more telling (at least for literary voyeurs like myself). But I do know some rockin stylish poets (male and female) as amazing in their ensembles as they are in their work. Perhaps merely a comment in general on society and culture that prizes stylishness over substance. (Unless you want your substance to be stylish, which I increasingly go for these days, but not everyone is on the same wavelength...)

Interesting sidenote: Years and years ago, sometime in the early - mid 90's, I saved a small clipping from what was either Mademoiselle or Glamour that mentioned the rise of young women making waves in the po-biz world. I don't have it anymore, but it was sort of the first exposure, in the pre-internet days and having no poet aquaintances, to the sort of poets that would become my contemporaries. The poets? Lisa Jarnot, Eleni Sikelianos, and Lee Ann Brown.

1 comment:

Supervillainess said...

Kristy, I think you're right - I definitely would have enjoyed seeing them all rock their own individual styles (whether vintage or casual or whatever) and I wish they had at least given each featured poet a poem to go with the pic.
I remember that feature in Mademoiselle (or Glamour) and there was also one (back in the day) in Cosmo that featured a Gluck poem. More poems please, I say!