By Austin Gatcomb, Staff Reporter
The Visiting Writers series recently came to an end this year with Arielle Greenberg, a poet who was willing to cover topics in feminism, sex, motherhood, and privilege in rather colorful ways.
Greenberg took the stage following an introduction, announced which readings she would be presenting, and boldly said,“The poems that I’m going to read you from the other two books are slightly dirty sometimes but I kinda build.”
The third poem Greenberg read, called “On Typing”, was true to her word about becoming a dirty poem. The poem was about how much she wants to, and used to, have sex. It starts by Greenberg telling her husband that she wished he would occasionally ask Greenberg for a blowjob and goes on from there, detailing out the type of man she wants for sex, and the type of man Greenberg married. As Greenberg goes on with the poem, she talks about how husband ends up watching porn and wonders “why not just have sex rather than watching porn”.
The poem also brings up how Greenberg feels when she was objectified when Greenberg says: “The best objectifying thing any lover ever said to me was ‘I was standing over here in the used record at the girl with the most beautiful hair and then I realized it was you.’”
Greenberg then describes a friends-with-benefits relationship that she had with a man from Stanford University. Greenberg said that “He wanted me for my body and his body was delicious crooked and it worked and worked, until he wanted me for my mind and then I broke his heart.”
“I grew up in a household that was pretty open about sexuality so it wasn’t a problem for me,” said Greenberg in an interview, “I’m trying to really make sure that I write about white privilege and race these days, and that is hard stuff to write about for me still.” Greenberg’s purpose for writing changes depending on what she is writing about, and believes that poetry should “be absolutely engaged in what’s going on politically.”
“What we’re really dealing with is a woman who is having to grapple with the disconnect in our society and culture,” said William Jennings, a student who attended the reading, “between what it means to be female, what it means to be a person, and what it means to be a mother.” Motherhood was the subject of the first two poems that Greenberg read, and still played a role even in “On Typing” when Greenberg said how her daughter knew what was under her shirt, but not Greenberg’s husband.
“This is where I think her work is much more, I guess you could call it authentic,” said Jennings, “than a lot of the stuff we see in the media.” Greenberg represents more of a middle ground from what is seen in the media, from Shakespearean literature like Romeo and Juliet which is the generic two people meet and fall in love, to Law and Order: SVU were it seems like sex is constant and uncontrollable. “It drives home to me, again and again,” said Jennings, “that she’s a voice, and we need to hear these voices.”