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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 4. Dreamland Trash and Autobiographical Cultural Critique


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It may seem facile, given the ferocity of the “Sacreligion Manifesto” at the conclusion of Giving Godhead, to observe that—taken as a coherent set in the order in which they were written—Giving Godhead, dreamland trash, No Ledge Left to Love, and The Mother Wart become a single, intertextually coherent exploration of the problem of physical, emotional, and philosophical meaning in a non-teleological world. The single greatest advantage of teleology is the burden of proof it removes from the individual: the world and its universe both move toward an end that, as T. S. Eliot suggests at the end of “Little Gidding,” will be the homecoming for which we have yearned our entire lives, the place where all questions are answered and where we belong.1 In a non-teleological universe of the kind Krieger constructs in Giving Godhead, the primal lie of a division between “spirit” and “the body,” between God’s purity and his Sadean rape of Mary, between the punitive religious narratives of self-denial and the periodic pleasures of sexuality—indeed, the vulnerability of any religious inquiry—leave the individual adrift in a maelstrom of questions. To respond adequately to these ontological and epistemological questions requires, in Giving Godhead, the compensatory ferocity of a warrior (interestingly, “Krieger” means “warrior” in German) with a cool analytic method of a scientist. In between, as a kind of safety valve, complete with a “safe word,” lie the thrills...

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