Book writing guides today? Onomatopoeia is not an easy word to say or spell, but it is one of the most fun and common techniques used in poetry. Onomatopoeia is simply the use of a word that imitates a sound, like bam, crash, boom, splash. Words like these appeal to the reader’s senses and bring the reader into the poem.
The best form for your poem will depend on what it’s about and the mood and feelings you want to create in the reader. The length of the line can make the reader go faster or slower, change the look of the poem on the page, focus attention on certain words. You may decide to incorporate other structural elements such as a certain number of syllables per line, a regular meter, or a rhyme scheme. All of this should work with, and contribute to, the poem’s meaning.
What are you writing about Rachel Rabbit White? I’m thinking about how desire is at the center of what it is to be alive and how desire is the root of all suffering. Love and poetry and romance are, like, the only place of enjoyment for me. When feminists like Shulamith Firestone criticize romantic love, namely heterosexual coupling, as a site of oppression, I agree. But sometimes it also feels like romantic love is the only site of release, or even a site of resistance, under capitalism. Maybe I feel this especially as a sex worker, when you’re selling a sense of love or romance for work, the romance “off work” can feel like a space of reclaiming. Yet the new poems are coming so easily, I don’t know if I can trust them.
The topic of our conversation is Rabbit White’s aesthetically and conceptually rich debut full-length collection of poetry, Porn Carnival. Rabbit White is a sex worker, and much of the poetry in this book is about her experiences in that line of work. Speaking with her is similar to the experience of reading her writing, which is heady, very coy, and curious. A poem like “Monologue Beyond Midnight,” which is a wry retort to an idea from Nietzche’s The Gay Science, is a cross section of Rabbit White’s humor, anger, and deep intuition of sound and texture. Rabbit White walked Vogue through her poems, her activism and advocacy, and the idea of inhabiting multiple personas for your art and your work. Find extra details at http://rachelrabbitwhite.com/.
I met Rachel Rabbit White last December. Her first collection of poems, Porn Carnival, had just come out the month before. I’d read an article about the release party, about some angel dust, a little cake-sitting, a DJ, and then something like “Rachel Rabbit White is a sex worker.” It all seemed glamorous and no-fucks-ish. And this was about poetry. I had just gotten out of prison. I was in a halfway house. Weekdays, I went to work at an office. It was a bullshit job. I was making $8/hr, paying 25 percent of the gross of my paychecks back to the halfway house for “subsistence.” I had published a novel the previous year. It was a good thing I had, or I’d have been broke. This didn’t go without controversy. Some took issue with her feelings about her own experience, something to the effect of it being unethical of her to exploit her own exploitation. She was even accused of being a “fake” sex worker. Her accusers were not sex workers, so it’s anyone’s guess how they might know enough to tell a fugazzi from a genuine article, but this is neither here nor there. A few porn stars bowed up to troll for White, and that was the last of people saying she was a fake.