Mini-Review: There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker (2017)

February 13th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

“It’s mostly about machine tits”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)

This is for all the grown women out there
Whose countries hate them and their brothers
Who carry knives in their purses down the street
Maybe they will not get out alive
Maybe they will turn into air or news or brown flower petals
There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé:
Lavender, education, becoming other people,
The fucking sky

(“Please Wait (Or, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé)”)

I don’t read a ton of poetry, since it mostly tends to go over my head. There are the rare exceptions, of course: stories written in verse, and the occasional feminist title; see, e.g. The Princess Saves Herself in this One. But mostly I shy away from it, since it makes me feel … not the sharpest tool in the shed.

That said, between the title and the cover, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé proved pretty much impossible to pass up. While I’m sure I missed out on many of the cultural references – I’m white, and this is a collection of poetry about black womanhood – and didn’t pick up all the varied and more veiled messages that Parker was putting down, I enjoyed it all the same. I read it cover-to-cover three times in two days, and with each successive reading, discovered something new. Parker’s poetry sparkles and shines and cuts more deeply, the more time you spend with it.

It’s hard to play favorites, since each piece has at least one or two especially memorable lines. (To wit: “At school they learned that Black people happened.”) But among the poems that really stood out to me are Hottentot Venus; Beyoncé On The Line for Gaga; Afro; These Are Dangerous Times, Man; RoboBeyoncé; 13 Ways of Looking at a Black Girl; The Gospel According to Her; The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife; White Beyoncé; What Beyoncé Won’t Say on a Shrink’s Couch; It’s Getting Hot In Here So Take Off All Your Clothes; The Book of Revelation; 99 Problems; and the titular Please Wait (Or, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé).

There are forty-two poems total, twenty-five of which have previously been published elsewhere. For those keeping count at home, thirteen have Beyoncé in the title. The Beyoncé/Lady Gaga mashups are fun, if only because I enjoy imagining them hanging together – or swapping bodies in a Freaky Friday twist.

I feel like I should say more but idk how to read poetry, let alone review it. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé is a fierce, funny, and subversive collection of poetry. You don’t need to be a member of the Bey Hive to love it (but it sure doesn’t hurt). It’s earned a permanent spot on my Kindle so I can return to it as needed over the next four to eight (please dog no) years.

 
Table of Contents

ALL THEY WANT IS MY MONEY MY PUSSY MY BLOOD
The President Has Never Said the Word Black
Hottentot Venus
Another Another Autumn in New York
Poem on Beyoncé’s Birthday
Lush Life
Beyoncé on the Line for Gaga
We Don’t Know When We Were Opened (Or, The Origin of the Universe)
My Vinyl Weighs a Ton
Beyoncé is Sorry for What She Won’t Feel
Afro
These Are Dangerous Times, Man
Rebirth of Slick
RoboBeyoncé
Delicate and Jumpy
Freaky Friday Starring Beyoncé and Lady Gaga
13 Ways of Looking at a Black Girl
The Book of Negroes
The Gospel According to Her
Black Woman With Chicken
The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife
White Beyoncé
The President’s Wife
Welcome to the Jungle
Beyoncé, Touring in Asia, Breaks Down in a White Tee
What Beyoncé Won’t Say on a Shrink’s Couch
Ain’t Misbehavin’
Untitled While Listening to Drake
Beyoncé in Third Person
Heaven Be a Xanax
Beyoncé Celebrates Black History Month
Earth Wind & Fire Reunion Tour 2013
It’s Getting Hot In Here So Take Off All Your Clothes
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
The Book of Revelation
99 Problems
Slouching Toward Beyoncé
Let Me Handle My Business, Damn
Beyoncé Prepares a Will
Please Wait (Or, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé)
Funeral for the Black Dog
So What
 

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

 

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