And for my reading, and for all the poems in this book that make reference to sex, I would say these are sexual poems. Sexual, like the rhythms of sex, the sometimes repeating and sometimes varying rhythms of sex, inside your head there is blood rushing around during sex making other rhythms of sex. When you read Patricia Lockwood’s poems this is what you’ll be feeling ... So goes the speaker in Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexual, who wants and then wants to want more if only to make wanting to want more like a trajectory that keeps drawing itself out even while we think that just wanting something will supposedly make it ours. It turns out wanting is another of those porous words. All of this sounds so uncomfortable. It is!
Many of Lockwood’s titles are grabby, over the top, titillating and outré...many of her characters are grotesques, cartoony, pixelated dreams ... Usually these characters are uncomfortably childlike, or hypersexualized, or both ... Pointless weirdness gets old fast...but here the weirdness almost always carries a magnificent, and political, point. If sexual and social norms make some of us (especially the young) feel monstrous, out of place, unheard, unprotected or out of control, then Lockwood will speak for the monsters ... Like the best stand-up comics, Lockwood seeks honesty, an honesty inseparable (for her) from the jarring, the awkward, the malformed, the disconcerting, from the tones and topics (especially sexual ones) usually excluded from polite company ... with its extended figures, its theme-and-variations structures, its spirals and twists away from (and sometimes back toward) ordinary speech, Lockwood’s new book rewards rereading. She is never subtle. Her work could seem dated soon. But those limits should not occlude her strengths. She has written a book at once angrier, and more fun, more attuned to our time and more bizarre, than most poetry can ever get.
She’s bolder, more sure of herself, than you are, and she has a genius for writing in the language of vulgar misogyny as she speaks to its absurdity ... The funniest parts—and there are many—all feel rather search-engine-optimized, titles and jokes ready to tweet ... her talent for humor extends beyond mockery, and I wish she’d bring to all her humorous poetry the same openness she brings to 'Rape Joke,' the same ability to compel as she repels. If the poems strike cultural nerves, all the better, but there are probably too few of them for her to find them reliably.
A few pages into her second collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, I start to feel that I’ve entered a word where seriousness is unwelcome and sentiment suspect—where outrageousness is essential but actual outrage, mine or anyone’s, is altogether out of bounds ... Lockwood’s 'Rape Joke' is not just the most shared poem in the still-short history of social media...It is also one of the most amazing poems I’ve read recently. Not only does it do the things I imagine her poems won’t; it does them uniquely well precisely because of those qualities that make me think they can’t ... Much of Lockwood’s poetry performs her freedom from expectations—the unwillingness to have her writing hemmed in by the strictures of taste or even the bounds of physics—so in this line the act of naming, so plainly, her common human vulnerability devastates me ... Subversive, ingenious, a little elusive, and, yes, funny, that two-word last line, like the poem as a whole, is Lockwood at her best.
You may find yourself feeling at home in the world that poet Patricia Lockwood surveys in her second collection — but getting comfortable could be another story ... In Lockwood’s world, the rules, roles, and requisites of sex, gender, and power have generously stretched their jurisdiction to preside over everything from the deepest reaches of nature to the most American pockets of pop culture (one poem with an unprintable title focuses on a hypersexualized Bambi). And her lines feel fresh but footed, with the studious curiosity of Marianne Moore, breathless adventures in anaphora that conjure Anne Waldman slapping 'Makeup on Empty Space,' and the slightly sinister laugh lines so deftly deployed by young poets like Chelsey Minnis and Dorothea Lasky ... Funny and cutting — and not without its share of the inevitable missteps that come with exploring sketchy woods such as these — the poems of Motherland may be reflected in the Oakley lenses of bro culture, but they also magnify the vulnerability that gives machismo its purpose.
It is a fantastically weird little book that makes funny and creepy almost-fables out of sex and gender and the business of writing ... In fact, my favorite poem in Motherland offers precisely the nuanced, emotionally deep take on masculinity Plunkett demands of Lockwood (a request not often made of male poets about femininity). 'List of Cross-Dressing Soldiers' begins as just that, ticking off famous female soldiers in history, before it becomes about her brother, who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his military machismo ... Trapped in a print book, I couldn’t fave or retweet Lockwood’s lines. Instead, they left me crying on the subway.
Nothing is off limits here and often the poems’ responses to their subjects—whether natural, political, or epistemological—are a fumbling, projective sexual ecstasy ... Fiercely smart and aching with imagination, she addresses what it means to be 'a series of places where animal parts could emerge,' yet remains able to wonder 'how can there be enough room in America to make what makes it up.' Lockwood’s poems register the full force of what they deliver and yet admirably refuse to see that as a reason to back away.