Twitter royalty graced the Burg with her presence on the sixth of June at the Midtown Scholar. I’m not typically one to fangirl, but I’ve been impressed with the work of poet Patricia Lockwood for some time, and was excited to see her on tour. I remember exactly where I was when I read her poem “Rape Joke” in the Awl, and how I sat alone in my office reacting audibly, a bit misty eyed, while also raising a fist and feeling prepared to crush the patriarchy. Finally, a poet who can balance raw language and gritty truth with deft humor and insight. I felt as if she spoke my language. As a poet, she cuts you exactly where she means to and leaves you awed by the speed and accuracy of her delivery.
Her work thrives on paradox, and nothing embodies that better than the title of her fresh-off-the-press memoir Priestdaddy. Once that hook draws you in, her style weaves her trademark blunt talk with an authentic exploration of the unique situation she navigates as the daughter of a married and family-rearing Catholic priest. She can poetically explore the divinity of her circumstances while not sparing the reader the truth of her day-to-day experience with her family. Awkwardness is the fodder that fuels her conscious thread of brilliance. She shies away from no subject and will spare no audience member a description of her father crouching in various states of dress.
Her Twitter life is another realm of blazing success. A member of Weird Twitter and the widely-acknowledged Poet Laureate of the social media platform, her sexts and observational tweets present a perfectly skewed sense of humor. I’m not here to guess how much of her twittering is an on-brand persona versus how much it represents the person that she is, but I will say that her presence on stage seemed consistent with what I read/imagined her to be.
Her electric wit and vibrant presence keep her rolling with banter between the more standard elements of an author’s reading. Her irreverence is contagious, and she reads the crowd and jokes with her audience to the point where you feel comfortable laughing openly. Her reading feels much more like an exhibitionist holding a dialogue in the nude than a passive lecture. As a former audience member, I can say it is definitely worth it to attend one of her events. Plus, she’s got a pretty velvety reading voice.
Besides putting her reading voice to her writing, I recommend attending an event on her tour to get your copy of her book(s) personalized. And I mean personalized—she not only chats you up while autographing, but she will draw whatever animal best fits the situation on the title page. Like Pokemon, you will feel a contagious need to collect as many of these rare gems as is possible.
If you can’t make it to a stop on her book tour, I recommend that you at least consider getting the audiobook of Priestdaddy so that you can hear for yourself Lockwood’s rich, performative vocal intonation. She will enliven your day while recounting her time living with her parents, dropping occasional lines that are so clever you may very well do a real life spit-take. Also, if you are not offended by smutty language, I highly recommend you give her a follow on Twitter.