KR BlogWriting

More Lady Gaga, A Bit of Queer Poetics, and One Writing Prompt

I was hoping to start this post with a breathless announcement of my newly acquired tickets to Lady Gaga’s July show.

But, stupidly, I attempted to outsmart The Evil Ticket Monopoly Company by trying to conduct two online searches at the same time. I was kicked off both, and went from being one of the first in line for tickets at exactly 10 am to one of the thousands logging on minutes after 10 am to procure seats ??? and failing.


Gaga’s been on my mind again, not just because her NYC shows went on sale this morning, but also because she recently released of her newest video. In “Telephone,” she teams up with Beyonc?? for a crazy cinematic, pop culture pastiche. Days after the release, a flurry of post-structural, queer and feminist readings of the video snowed across the interweb. As one writer puts it, “Telephone” is a continuing example of how Gaga

pull[s] on the avant garde while pushing against mainstream pop in an attempt to collapse the two into some beautifully monstrous amalgamation of high fashion, pop music, cinema, and performance art.

Yesterday, I led a queer theory undergraduate class in a discussion and exploration of queer poetics.

As an introduction I asked each student to say their name and one word that held either very significant meaning for them, or utterly no significance at all. I was quite tickled when one student said “Lady Gaga.” Yes, exactly.

Among the several poems and essays we discussed in class were R. Erica Doyle’s powerful poem “Faggot: A Definition” and an excerpt from Gertrude Stein’s “Rooms.”

(R. Erica Doyle)
(R. Erica Doyle)

We talked about what makes a poem queer (the queerness of the poet? experimentation in form? content? a poem that pushing against multiple boundaries?).

A class full of bright young adults, they talked about what it means to queer language, alter meaning, direct readers to see words and spaces differently.

Then, because I firmly believe that any class that discusses poetry should also write poetry, I led them in a writing exercise, which I will leave you with:

1) Make a list of 5-7 words that hold some personal, emotional, or intellectual significance to you. That is, words that are largest in your mental or emotional language-landscape.
2) Choose one and “queer” it in a poem.

Perhaps you will look back at Doyle’s’ poem to see how she takes the word “faggot” and strategically repeats it until it both loses and gains multiple meaning at once.

Or perhaps you will take inspiration from Stein and use the word as the title. The body of your poem might attempt to crack open all the meanings, connotations, and associations of that word in order to create a portrait of the word that goes far beyond any literal description.

Maybe, taking Lady Gaga’s latest cue, you will try a collage of high- and low-brow sources to bring an entirely new dimension to your word.

Or you will find a way to approach this prompt in an entirely different way.

fire writing
(Fire Poi Typography by Nir Tober)

However you do it, if you do it, I invite you to share it in the comments section. Happy writing!