Saturday, April 03, 2010

CT Laity on Gurlesque: "this book is intended to be read and talked about by men"

Curious assertions over at


Blogger R. Sanford said...

"this book is intended to be read and talked about by men"

Am I wrong to be annoyed by this assumption? I think it's attributing more than it should be in a way I find incredibly frustrating and simplistic.

4:30 PM  
Blogger John B-R said...

I'm about to review the anthology for Eileen Tabios' Galatea Resurrects. I hope no one's disappointed when I say I don't find it "a pure act of anarchy" or "a violation of poetry itself" or "everything ... sacred" - I find it much more interesting - and actually better - than that.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Matt Walker said...

are you sure CJ Laity is someone you want to be quoting favorably?

9:56 PM  
Blogger Matt Walker said...

in case you aren't familiar with his antics...

10:00 PM  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

3 things: 1. I'm unable to reach the review, as seems to be down; as such I have no Idea where the quote comes from, but I have issues with it just sitting there, uninterrogated.
It also ties in with what Amy and Ana have been talking about, with which I sympathize (to a greater of lesser extent)

2. I find it odd that Ariana's work is included under this rubric. Sure, her work ties in with the larger contemporary movement toward gortesque/body/power/identity poetics, ie the "gurl" side, but I don't see the "esque".

3. The idea of "violation" is particularly politically frought, but I don't want to go into it here (suffice to say that it should be used with caution, cf Freud, Bataille); yet whether or not this work is disruptive of the poetic channel is, I think, an interesting question. I was talking to Lisa Samuels the other day about Ariana's work (she's supervising my research project) and she is definately of the opinion that such is not, and I can see where she's coming from - witness it's popularity for one, it's relative formal and communicative conventionality - the norm-busting intent is obvious, but where is the evidence of efficacy? I'm not sure of this, but, to play devil's advocate, one could argue for parallels with Punk Rock and the YBAs, in that any truely revolutionary possibility will be/has been subsumed by it's own legitimisation of itself, and it's entry into popular (poetic) culture its stamp of aproval by the accademy as "valid".

Here we get the catch 22, that anything that gains any popular appeal is negated in it's political efficacy, and anything fringe doesn't reach enough people to gain any real traction.....

I dunno. I'm rambling.

I hope some of that makes sense.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Laity doesn't deserve to be talked about. That is one of the most hateful, stupid reviews I have ever read. I am ashamed to belong to the same biological sex as that man.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

I think notions of "disruption" have to be re-thought. Especially if "popularity" (which is highly highly relative - compare to who? with whom?). This is why I so frequently write in opposition to the tired old idea of oppositional/critique.


8:08 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...


You took that as positive? I don't know anything about him, I have to admit.


8:10 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...


I pretty much have to wonder about a lot of the things you write. What do you mean you can't see the "esque" in Ariana's work? What does it mean to be efficacious? What poetry have you ever seen to be efficacious? In what way does its language function conventionally? Is that the norm for poetry? In experimental poetry, there's a prevailing norm that the sentence structure has to be messed with in order to cause political change - is this the norm she follows (see James Pate's article about Wittgenstein, Lara and Ariana)? Popular among who? What kind of popularity?


8:21 AM  
Blogger Lara Glenum said...


You assume because I posted this here that I'm "quoting favorably?"

Do you really think I intended the Gurlesque antho to be only discussed/reviewed by men?

I'm v. interested in the fact that the antho seems to be eliciting such extreme claims.

12:00 PM  
Blogger becca said...

The Gurlesque anthology was designed to offend poets like CJ Laity. I'm kinda thrilled by this, as evidence of the anthology's spirit playing out into misogynist corners of poetry culture.

(For the record, I'm using the 'm' word because CJ Laity is the same guy who thought it was okay to call a woman poet fat on the internet.)

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ Laity is obviously not offended - he likes how powerful the book is in his determinations of what the work is supposed to do for his woman-hating, woman-baiting self.

But as Becca noted, he's not exactly a cock one would voluntarily place in one's field. Kind of like saying Pol Pot or William Logan vouches for this book - not an endorsement requiring much, if any, interrogation at all...

4:50 PM  
Blogger Max said...


But sometimes there's one magical instance of an artist whose work can be everything for everyone and not really lose any of its essential value. For punk, I think that's The Ramones. No matter how many times their songs pop up in ads, I never feel like the overall worth of their music, of their cultural force, is diminished. In fact, I feel like this makes it stronger, oddly. There's no way you can shortsell a song like "I Wanna Be Sedated," and yet it sounds great over an ad for Pop Tarts, too (especially if they dub new vocals over it, so it's actually about Pop Tarts in some way).

Perhaps there can be someone among the Gurlesque-sters who manages that leap, the "power" of whose work transcends momentary or eternal popularity. But then again, I don't think this is generally a problem that poets have to deal with, because poetry is not popular in the first place. Nor will it ever be. Nor should it ever be.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


I'm not sure what you mean. Can you be more explicit about your point? Just because Lara put a link to this blog doesn't mean she endorses it. It is a very interesting review and I think there are many things - such as the one Ryan noted - that should be interrogated and might yield some interesting ideas. Not a lot of interesting ideas, but some. Mostly I think that his reaction shows the extreme reactions to this anthology.


5:27 PM  
Blogger Lara Glenum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Lara Glenum said...

Not looking for endorsements/someone to vouch for the book, Amy.

I'm just interested in/amused by the bizarre rhetorical turns this particular review takes.


6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


No-where did I ever say Lara endorsed Laity's endorsement. I very explicitly said "he likes how powerful the book is in his determinations of what the work is supposed to do for his woman-hating, woman-baiting self."

But I do think it's telling that it isn't clear to others that posting this Laity quote isn't an endorsement.

The quote is up without any context, and includes a link which gives Laity what he most wants: hits and attention.

I guess my Pol Pot reference wasn't clear enough. What I mean is that Laity not long ago publicly attacked and denigrated some female Chicago poets and threatened them by posting a string of pseudonymous blogs that attacked not only their characters, but maliciously (yes, maliciously) mocked their physical appearances, wrote fake reviews signed by other real women, and threatened to harass them in public, to the point that they had to enlist security for a performance.

Some of the women involved have since removed the account of what took place with him from their blogs; a couple have left it. The main person he attacked first suggested leaving it because she wanted a record of his behaviors, wanted him to continue to be held accountable, instead of bowing out in the vein of so much typical embarrassed & 'shamed' victim status. Some of his own nasty record of the attack remains online to corroborate.

Should I spur his entire "review" simply bc he's harassed a few women in the recent past? As I told Lara last night, I would not proliferate anything of his in my space, no matter if "some interesting ideas" might bear out or, alternately, how obviously stupid one thinks the review is.

Laity's used to being called names and seems to revel in calling names, esp women. What he wants most is attention such as this, so what I mean by my post is to call attention to the fact that he's a misogynist of the worst order, has a despicable and recent history of such engagement (against several women poets no less), and perhaps those facts will shed light on whether his is an endorsement worth engaging. Of course, the choice is the reader's.


5:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I see where you may have gotten confused - I note that Laity endorses the book at the end of my post, not Lara.

6:08 AM  

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