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Obscenity and Disruption in the Poetry of Dylan Krieger

Thomas Simmons

Obscenity and Disruption in the Poetry of Dylan Krieger is the first full-length study of the radical poetry of Baton Rouge-based poet Dylan Krieger. Wickedly smart, iconoclastic, daring in their critiques of religion and contemporary culture, Krieger’s poems rank with Allen Ginsberg’s and Adrienne Rich’s as the most provocative and avant-garde of any recent generation. With its debt to third-wave feminism and the "Gurlesque," Krieger’s work nevertheless moves outward and backward across the landmines of sexual precocity and religious fundamentalism and across the entire western project of epistemology as Krieger came to understand it at the University of Notre Dame. Though this book necessarily stays close to Krieger’s specific poems, it follows her lead in stretching her cultural, sexual, and religious furies to their apotheosis in a manifesto of liberation.

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Chapter 2. Obscenities of Religion on the Site of the Body


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the believer bride-body carves the word prosthesis into both its femurs. watch out—got that holy spear-it fever, when my demons get son-drunk they spit up particles of fear all over, a feast even the beast can’t keep down.

—Dylan Krieger, “original schism”

Though there are exceptions—most of them contained within the Gnostic traditions, whose earliest texts have been available to the English-speaking public only since Bentley Layton’s translations in 19771—obscenity is woven into the most central narratives of the Christian Bible. It is an obscenity performed by humans, or proto-humans, expressly against the will of God. Eating from the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil,” Adam and Eve know themselves ever so briefly as beings with the insight of the deity and then, grasping the primal violation they have performed, hide themselves and their nakedness—their bodies—from God as he comes to find them “in the cool of the day.” Though this ur-text in Genesis has its own tradition, within Christianity we see it as our progenitors’ first awareness of the low that comes with the high, the low that becomes the real—bestiality the essential condition of human being, or what we saw, in the introduction, in the earliest versions of the grotesque, “degradation and filth.” Sinning against God’s word, Adam and Eve are made to recognize in this text the body...

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