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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 5. The Broken Body as an Epistemological Statement


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All bodies are broken. This unphilosophical, intellectually unrigorous, observation-outside-of-argument falls thus into the category of empirical narrative. The genetics that comprise us doom us. My daughter Faye’s step-sister Anne died at 20 weeks in the womb, and stayed there until her twin began to show fetal distress at 35 weeks. After a Caesarean, the twin was operated on for multiple intestinal blockages at the age of two days. My mother died three years younger than I now am of melanoma, untreated and without opioid painkillers, in a Christian Science “care facility” after prayer failed. My sister has a pacemaker in her heart. My brother has had eight operations for incipient melanoma. I was sexually assaulted at three by a quartet of teen boys and couldn’t walk for two weeks—my mother asserted in church that I had a “claim” of polio and gave public thanks two weeks later for my “healing.” If I follow family tradition, I will be dead in 1–15 years from pneumonia, heart disease, or melanoma, barring some other deadly intervention. These are anecdotal examples of the normative circumstances of mortality, in which the wreckage of the body is a given of the ontological system in which we live.

But we’re not actually talking here about “ontology.” We might say that we begin with “the body in pain,” to quote once more Elaine Scarry’s title,1 and also with...

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