An Ode To Black Womanhood: Poetry Inspired By Beyonce
Poet Morgan Parker was shooting craps in Atlantic City with some grad school friends when she was struck by the idea for her new collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House). Parker had grown up assuming verse had to be ethereal, profound, timeless—not fun and certainly not about pop culture. But that night she began to envision a poem from the perspective of her idol, Beyoncé, that would be a mash-up of allusion and metaphor and glitter and swagger. That single poem grew into a volume that took Queen Bey off the stage to reflect on motherhood, depression, objectification and betrayal. Parker's muse became a conduit, "a compass to explore my place in the world as a black woman."
Like all the best poetry, Parker's book is a reminder of the genre's cherished role—a call to be present, to see more than we think we can. In the words of Shakespeare: "The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling, / Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven."
We asked Parker to share a few lines from her stunning second work and give us a glimpse into her creative process.
My goal as a writer is to describe how it feels to live in my body—what it sounds like, what it looks like, what fills every minute of being who I am.
I love Beyoncé, but this poem isn't just about reverence. Idols are complicated and often empty. The media we consume act as a reflection of our deepest desires.
The book is full of voices—my own and others'—because much of the everyday life of a black woman is about masks and performance.
Morgan Parker Likes Her Poetry Potent
Here, she shares five favorite new collections.
Weary Kingdom by DéLana R.A. Dameron (University Of South Carolina Press)
Narrative and full of song, this book makes me feel at home in its window views, kitchen tables, and human emotions.
The January Children by Safia Elhillo (University Of Nebraska Press)
A stunning collection that examines displacement, femininity and vulnerability with a balance of ferocity and tenderness.
Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing by Charif Shanahan (Southern Illinois University Press)
These nuanced and powerful poems tackle race, belonging and self-discovery with vividness and humility.
Overpour by Jane Wong (Action Books)
I was seduced and excited by Wong's discerning use of images, but don't mistake her gorgeous language and emotional insight for fragility.
Whereas by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf Press)
Steeped in Native American history and current politics, Long Soldier's poetry is a melodious battle cry, an argument and a prayer for our nation's future.