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Patricia Lockwood on poetry that stands out in the internet age

The poet behind last year's viral 'Rape Joke' on her new collection: Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals.
  The common wisdom about contemporary North American poetry is that it's a marginalized art form written for, and by, the literary elite — and so it's no small feat when a work of contemporary poetry goes viral. 

Patricia Lockwood's  The Rape Joke, a devastatingly direct yet irreverent piece about sexual assault and the way we take about rape, generated a massive online response last year — and, in the words of one critic, "casually reawakened a generation's interest in poetry". 

Now, Lockwood is attracting critical praise with her latest collection,  Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals. Guest host Piya Chattopadhyay speaks with the poet about her rising profile and how her work responds to our lives online. 

"I did for a while think that I might be able to write stories and novels, but then I realized that I was the sort of person that — whenever I was reading a book or watching a movie — I could stop at the most dramatic point and not just give a care what happened next," she tells Piya. 

"So I thought, maybe the narrative form is not for me. I was more interested in sort of the atomic structure of sentences, getting down very small and minuscule, how words affected each other on a one-to-one level."

Experience Lockwood's poetry 

For a sense of Lockwood's approach to poetry and performance, watch her perform during the Badblood Reading Series.

Warning: the poem contains imagery and language some may find offensive. 

   

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