The year was 2013 A.D., and yet another comedian was trying, and failing, to defend himself, after trying, and failing, to make rape funny. Yet another tsunami of internet chatterers tried, and failed, to get in the last word.
And then Patricia Lockwood showed up.
In the wake of Daniel Tosh's rape-joke scandal, Lockwood simply told the story of her own rape, substituted the words "rape joke" in place of the word "rape" and other phrases, and published it on The Awl. The effect at large was instantly mesmerizing, heartbreaking, and discombobulating. Amid its harrowing description of events, "Rape Joke," after all, contained some genuinely funny lines. That Lockwood was able to so easily shut down the nattering discourse about rape jokes and get in a few jokes of her own? That's damn impressive.
"Rape Joke" did another thing, too: it awakened a blog-reading, Twitter-obsessed population's interest in poetry, which, let's face it, can use all the awakening it can get. Often called the "poet laureate of Twitter," Lockwood's talent with words is perfect for the 140-character form; she often, in just a handful of words, can turn their meanings and relationships to each other completely on end. Her newest collection of poems, titled Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, interweaves geography, sex, nature, history, pornography and onomastics in deliciously uncouth fashion.
For her appearance at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center on Sept. 22, Lockwood has promised—on Twitter, naturally—to read "SECRET NEW WORKS-IN-PROGRESS." But whatever words she strings together, she does so with curiosity, wit, and intelligence. Expect a stimulating and surreal evening with a true original.