Encore: Carmen Giménez Smith talks poetry, politics, and feminism
"All of us gun owners, pro-rights-pro-life, pro-choice… all of us are being oppressed by this same coterie of rich people. But we’re oppressing each other through hate. And that’s great for that 1%. They’re thrilled when we’re fighting about trifling things because they have all our money now." — Carmen Giménez Smith
Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir and four poetry collections including Milk and Filth (University of Arizona Press), finalist for the 2013 NBCC award in poetry. She co-edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing (Counterpath Press). A CantoMundo Fellow, she teaches in the creative writing programs at New Mexico State University, while serving as the publisher of Noemi Press.
About Milk and Filth:
Adding to the Latina tradition, Carmen Giménez Smith, politically aware and feminist-oriented, focuses on general cultural references rather than a sentimental personal narrative. She speaks of sexual politics and family in a fierce, determined tone voracious in its opinions about freedom and responsibility.
The author engages in mythology and art history, musically wooing the reader with texture and voice. As she references such disparate cultural figures as filmmaker Lars Von Trier, Annie from the film Annie Get Your Gun, Nabokov’s Lolita, Facebook entries and Greek gods, they appear as part of the poet’s cultural critique.
Phrases such as “the caustic domain of urchins” and “the gelatin shiver of tea’s surface” take the poems from lyrical images to comic humor to angry, intense commentary. On writing about “downgrading into human,” she says, “Then what? Amorality, osteoporosis and not even a marble estuary for the ages.”
Giménez Smith’s poetic arsenal includes rapier-sharp wordplay mixed with humor, at times self-deprecating, at others an ironic comment on the postmodern world, all interwoven with imaginative language of unexpected force and surreal beauty. Revealing a long view of gender issues and civil rights, the author presents a clever, comic perspective. Her poems take the reader to unusual places as she uses rhythm, images, and emotion to reveal the narrator’s personality. Deftly blending a variety of tones and styles, Giménez Smith’s poems offer a daring and evocative look at deep cultural issues.
The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.