Saturday, April 20, 2013
BPR LIT TRIP 21 with Amanda Yskamp
The bravado of Amanda Yskamp’s “A+” seems a fitting poem in the wake of the city of Boston taking back control from the terror of the Marathon Bombers. Exploration of Yskamp’s prose poem published in the Birmingham Poetry Review volume 40 comes as the Steiny Road Poet marks twenty-one days in a row of supporting the work of contemporary poets and a particularly remarkable literary journal where every detail down to the high-quality paper has been attended to by editor-in-chief Adam Vines. Here is the first half of the poem:
Because my first grade teacher misspelled words, and I was faster than my math master at some sums, could see beyond the window of U.S. history out to where the snow fell on a farther field, I knew bullshit walks, the smartass wins an honest kiss, rebellion is a Boston birthright, born in the heart of a young country that a show must be made of the cause.
Because the narrator is concerned about misspelled words, one gets clued in early that she cares about words in general. Poetic play is seen in her near or exact homophonic alliterations—math master and some sums.
In the second half of the poem to show her Boston born rebellion, she “unlatched the cages to let the mice run loose, burned the janitor’s shoes, put a voodoo hex on [her] French teacher, gave him Hep, oui, je l’ai fait.” Why? Because she felt he acted snobbish—“for his tightassed class distinctions.” Her last act of rebellion is to make a blood sisterhood “in a carnal wish to break from the body.” So in this poem, we have female rebel who steps up and admits what she has done (yes, I did it— oui, je l’ai fait) and defiantly takes a knife to the thumbs of the girl who encircle her. “A+” is a poem bursting with the kind of energy expected of young men and therefore brings an additional burst of surprise and pleasure.