What Is Gurlesque Poetry?
Start writing a post
Entertainment

What Is Gurlesque Poetry?

A third wave of feminism, sexuality, and femininity revisited.

1119
What Is Gurlesque Poetry?

There’s something sad about the state of poetry. When we were kids in language arts classes, poetry could be anything—a jumble of words, rhyming or not, that evoked some sort of emotion or experience. Throughout school, though, poetry changed. We had to memorize sonnets, count iambs, explain why certain poems made us feel the ways we did.

When I first heard about gurlesque poetry in a college writing workshop, I was immediately transported back to the first poems I wrote and the first poems I loved. There’s something raw and purely emotional about this genre of poetry.

The term was first coined in 2001 by Arielle Greenberg, who later co-edited an anthology on the genre with Lara Glenum. Loosely defined, gurlesque poetry is that which is written by women who overtly perform and react to their femininity. The poems push the boundaries of what is typically seen as acceptable female behavior and language. Their speakers are honest and precise in unique ways and represent many facets of what it means to be female and to be “woman.” Taking a page out of Burlesque performers’ playbook, speakers work to reclaim their bodies to subvert institutions and people who once laid claim to them.

The poems are shocking in many ways, but not so much in others. These poems are personal, too personal for some readers. Gurlesque poems force readers to critique their own assumptions about women; they make readers question why some poems make them feel uncomfortable.

Yes, they talk about sex. They flip the act on it’s head, taking power away from those who normal have it and giving power back to themselves. Yes, they talk about their own bodies. They do so without the shame that is often connected to them and their sexuality.

So, here are some of my favorite stanzas written by some of my favorite gurlesque poets. These few snippets demonstrate the genre well, as they make me question femininity and the experiences I generally take for granted.


From, "To The Man Who Shouted "I Like Pork Fried Rice" at Me on the Street" by Franny Choi:

taste like dried squid. lips puffy
with salt. lips brimming
with foreign so call me
pork. curly-tailed obscenity
been playing in the mud. dirty meat.
worms in your stomach. give you

a fever. dead meat. butchered girl
chopped up & cradled
in styrofoam. you candid cannibal.
you want me bite-sized
no eyes clogging your throat.

From, "All the Aphrodisiacs" by Cathy Park Hong:

you say it turns you on when I speak Korean.
The gold paste of afterbirth, no red—

Household phrases —pae-go-p’a (I am hungry)
—ch’i-wa (Clean up)
—kae sekki (Son of a dog)

I breathe those words in your ear, which make you climax;

afterwards you ask me for their translations. I tell you it’s a secret.

From, "A Poet's Poem" by Brenda Shaughnessy:

and watched the icicles drip, as I smoked
a cigarette.

Finally I reached up and broke a big, clear spike
off the roof with my bare hand.

And used it to write a word in the snow.
I wrote the word snow.

I can’t stand myself.

From, "Some Public Characters" by Brenda Colts:

I thought marriage would be my most public act and performance or my baptism or once when I taken an oath to defend the public or when I was a girl scout pledging to do my best to honor God and my country, and once when I was in the newspaper because I was a welder and a fashion model, and then I got stalked, and once when they used to call me Puffy Coultas.

"This is a Fucking Poem" by Catherine Wagner:

don’t expect too much.

Well I expect you to go into the
fucking human tunnel
I’m going.

pink grimy glossed
entabulature, welted
and tattooed. Enfolded in
ropy ceiling-hangings
but it isn’t a room,

and bumblingly sliding
out, little legs of

a little girl, bum on the wall/opening
pink legs sticking out like a
hermit crab’s, she’s coming!

shudder out the little-girl
legs with a little
girl head mostly eyes, no ears,
bug brain, aimless

Send her to school

It’s cold, and where should she
go, she will eat her
legs with her mandibles

her eyes will retract inside.

Stroke her riding hood
Settle down, little

nobody will hurtcha

by breaking off your little legs,
six little legs,
if you come.

If you had any reactions to these poems and want to read more, check out Arielle Greenberg and Lara Glenum's anthology which explores the common threads between these poets and poems, Gurlesque: the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1341027

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

836145
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

810784
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

524122
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

327900
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

459471

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

312216

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

210227
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments