Today's book of poetry: How Poetry Saved My Life (A Hustler's Memoir). Amber Dawn. Arsenal Pulp Press. Vancouver, British Columbia. 2013.
In How Poetry Saved My Life (A Hustler's Memoir) Amber Dawn provides these labels for herself in one of her poems:
I am thinking of how my community is so keen on labels. I have
more ID tags than dollars in my savings account. Queer. Femme.
Third-wave feminist. Daddy's-girl-switch-mommy-dom. Clean and
sober bar star. Pillow queen. PoMo sexual. Homoflexible. Post-gay
gay snot-turned-community revivalist. Art fag. Lit nerd. Whore.
Which leaves me thinking that this might be a manifesto, a polemic. How Poetry Saved My Life is anything but that.
Amber Dawn worked in the Adult Sex industry and that informs every poem and piece of prose in this extraordinary collection. But don't be misled by that tawdry promise because Amber Dawn could just as easily be turning her voice to philosophy or religion.
What I'm so inelegantly trying to suggest is that like any good author - Dawn could write about anything and give it an intelligent going over.
Discussions range from the proper resting place for Lucy's bones (Lucy being the first "human" according to anthropologists), to adult fetish behaviour. Larry Fine's (one of the original Three Stooges) hair is discussed with the same gravitas and delight as Frank Zappa and the Soap Lady.
My client -- the human -- you know, he limped too. I don't know why.
I thought it would be a turn-off to ask him what had happened to
his leg. It would have been a turn-off to ask him what he knows
about vanishing flora or, worse still, vanishing nations. It would
have been a turn-off to ask him what will happen to those Chinese
factory workers when the Bratz doll craze is over. What would
Samuel Beckett say if he knew that Broadway musicals are all that
survived of the theatre world? And what would Lucy think if she
knew a drunk paleontologist named her after a Beatles song before
she was returned to Ethiopia under an international agreement?
What would I pay to feel human again?
This book is a bold statement about being human in an inhumane world. How Poetry Saved My Life is all about being human, original wisdom is always a worthwhile read.
Let's be honest. The truth is, I never meant to become an adult fetish
worker. I was twenty-four years old, a masseuse at Sensual Bliss
Massage & More, on my knees fixing to give a routine blowjob to a
man named Stan. Stanley said he had something for me. Something
in his briefcase. He shyly produced a pair of handcuffs, a bottle of
Tabasco sauce, and a rubber mask that looked like Larry Fine from
the Three Stooges. That's how it really began.
Humour and horror arm wrestle all the way through these poems and short prose pieces.
Startling and sparkling honesty and authenticity from a genuinely entertaining and educating voice. Amber Dawn's How Poetry Saved My Life is like the siren and lights on a police car that blare "PAY ATTENTION", "BE CAREFUL", "SOMETHING IMPORTANT IS GOING ON HERE".