This was originally printed in Roar magazine. I was solicited by Anna March to review There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker. Read about my experience with Anna March here.
I will be writing a follow up to that soon. And about this review in particular.
The short version of this review is- you should read this book. The work in There Are Things More Beautiful Than Beyonce is beautiful and immaculate, it is excellent work. Morgan Parker is an exciting and wonderful poet. Stick around for the long version.
I have a habit of yelling at things I like, especially writing I like. After the first poem, I put this book face down on my lap and started muttering to myself in public. Oh shit, first poem, okay, fine, just fucks me up fam. I had to take my time reading Morgan Parker’s beautiful collection because it felt private. I felt invaded and read to filth in the best kind of way.
I love poetry. Poetry for me is the highest kind of art. Poetry bleeds, it weeps, when it is good to me, it has a hard steady pulse and reaches inside me to rearrange things a little. Parker’s work in this book, is the type of art I dream about.
To say there are things more beautiful than Beyonce, is throwing a major gauntlet. Beyond the potential wrath of the Beyhive, what is more beautiful than Beyonce? What can be more beautiful than Beyonce? As I (or you) the reader enters into the little world of this book, we gon’ learn today.
I know my pussy is real good because they said so.
Poetry when it is good for me reaches in and starts grabbing. Words put together in ways that thrill me and pull me in tight to the work. Aesthetically, the way the poems are put together, I can hear breath in the spacing, silence where appropriate. The way Morgan has interwoven Blackness, beauty, sex, vice and desire gives her work a body, a pulse, a wet mouth, tears. It is bodied and embodied. This is poetry that sees and loves my Black body and I am here for it.
Confuse the meanings
of castle and slum, exotic
When you get deeper into the book, settle into a comfortable rhythm, it’s easy to devour this book whole. I read it in a bus ride and read it again on my next bus ride. This isn’t overly fancy, poetry. You don’t need a stack of reference books and your lifeline on speed dial. This is accessible and but not easy. To be a Black poet who boldly and nakedly talks about Blackness, the beauty and the pain is by default not doing anything simple. Blackness is so varied and capturing nuance of being Black in America is no small thing.
We low hum of satisfaction. We is is is is is is is is
Touch, touch, shine, a little taste.
The level of skill it takes to use simple, easily understood imagery and keep the complexity and intricacy of the work intact and in this case, presented with dignified coolness is testament to both Morgan’s skill as a poet and the skill of the other people who worked on this book. In terms of the things I as a reader crave, this book has it all.
I am hungry for myself.
As a reader, I am hungry for representation. I am in need of hearing a voice that could be my own, even if I can’t write poetry. Many of the poetry collections that are recommended to me, are absolutely lovely, but I am not there. Being seen and heard, especially in the lit world is a rare thing that is more beautiful than Beyonce. Given the deleterious Whiteness of the poetry world, as a reader it can be difficult and hurtful to be invisible in the pages of poetry collections. To be seen and loved in the way this collection does, is wonderful.
What if I said I’m tired?
I am a writer and sometimes a poet. Real talk, I’m pissed off that I didn’t write this. As an artist, one of the things I can freely admit to is a certain amount of peevishness when I read or see beautiful things that I did not create. I want to have birthed this beautiful, magical book. I want people like me, to read such a book and feel what I feel. Mind you, this is not a lasting peevishness. I’m not mad at Morgan Parker or Tin House, I just love it that much.
Do you think I could be a witch?
Can shine be caught like a fever?
Overall, Morgan Parker’s collection There are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce is more beautiful than Beyonce. The flesh and bone of this volume is thick as my thighs and solid. Morgan Parker’s voice is strong and sure and sad and gorgeous and drunk on wine and bodies and itself. I want to tell Morgan Parker, thank you. I want to hear her read these poems to me until I fall into the most satisfied of sleeps. Read this book. Cherish it. Live with it in your heart.
Dear reader, I’m sure you noticed the bolded lines above. These are some of my favorite lines from this book. I didn’t attribute each poem because I’m kind of a weirdo and I want you to find them when you read this book. Because, you need to read this book.
And one last thing, I now have an official writer page over at Facebook. Come like it. Share it with your friends.