10 of 2013’s Best Books of Poetry


 TwERK (Belladonna*), LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs

The Short:
sound, dialect, linguistics, japanese pop culture, translation, race, identity

The Long:
Twerking entered mainstream slang through spectacles like Big Freedia’s Guinness World Record (for the most people twerking) and Miley Cyrus’s co-opting of bounce during many controversial appearances this year. This perhaps becomes even more relevant and resonant after TwERK‘s publication — as it addresses the co-opting of culture and race in its opening poem “mista popo ™ hollas @ jynx™.” If you’re not in the know about ’90s anime, Mister Popo is a character from Dragon Ball Z, who was drawn in the style of blackface. Jynx, a Pokémon, was depicted in the same style of pitch skin and big red lips — until they later revised her skin to slightly-less-racist-but-no-really-this-is-still-racist-as-hell purple. TwERK examines Western culture through iconographic appropriation, fierce language, composite languages, and experiments of dialect and form. While I note the pop culture that makes this work an exciting access point, the juggling of linguistics is not to be overlooked — this book rivals Christian Bök’s Vowels or Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution in terms of its creative wordplay.