Trimmings: Author's Note

Trimmings was for me a way to think about women and language. I don’t think there is necessarily any “feminine language” except in the sense of those qualities we regard as feminine. Gender is a set of signs which we tend to forget are arbitrary. In these prose poems I thought about language as clothing and clothing as language, wondering especially why writing by women has been as ephemeral as fashion. Other concerns were the use of women as aesthetic objects in art and literature, the use of women’s bodies in advertising and pornography, the use Freud made of “hysteria” of his women patients. Trimmings proceeds metonymically and associatively, from women’s clothing to women’s bodies; from a word to another word. linked by association—since women are also called skirts, petticoats, fluff, trim. Words like pink and slit are especially at home in the sewing catalogue or the girly magazine. The words pink and white kept appearing as I explored the ways that the English language conventionally represents femininity. Of course if I regard gender as a set of arbitrary signs, I also think of race—as far as it is difference that is meaningful—as a set of signs. Traces of black dialect and syntax, blues songs and other culturally specific allusions enter the text from the linguistic contributions of Afro-Americans to the English language.

Trimmings was republished as part of the trilogy

Recyclopedia (Graywolf Press)

along with S*PERM**K*T and Muse & Drudge.

Recyclopedia received a PEN Beyond Margins Award.


Trimmings is also available in the

T E N D E R   O M N I B U S

Katy Bohinc