Faculty mentor: Craig Dworkin
Artist’s Statement: The Paper or Plastic collection examines grocery stores, consumerism, and the peculiar position of bearing witness to events under national scrutiny this year, including race and class disparity, polarizing politics, and a raging pandemic. I write from my own experience as a Utah resident, one of the more conservative states in America, and as a cashier during a pandemic.
These poems meditate on the intricate intersections of class and race that I experience in my own life, from the customers I served to my friends and family. I write from positions of privilege and positions on the margin: as a white person, I do not experience racism, but as a woman and a queer person, I experience misogyny and gender binary. Paper or Plastic interrogates our navigations of identity when we feel we are in crisis.
My influences include the work of Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, Claudia Rankine (especially her opus Citizen) and Harryette Mullen, whose text “S*PeRM**K*t”, which evaluates objects and objectification, using the structure of a supermarket, allowed me to expand upon the meaning of the grocery store. Through Mullen’s writing especially, I understand and interpret grocery stores as a great equalizer, in the sense that everyone gets hungry and must eat. I interpret my work at a grocery store as an excellent place to observe a hub of a community, but I also see groceries as library or catalog: if one wanted to experience the breadth of nourishment, they might begin at a grocery store, in the same way that if a person wanted to experience literature, they would go to the library. So, while my poetry is essentially grounded in the “real world”, in the sense that this collection unfolds in real time and pertains to actual experiences I’ve had, it’s also rooted in literature, and how the two are intertwined. The role of the grocery store in Paper or Plastic and how it pertains to the American narrative is a vital subject for exploration.
Watch my performance below!
Questions or comments? Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org