Untitled love poem attempt (with a Letter from the Creative Section Editors)

Photo Credit: Photographic Paintings Using Light and Miscellaneous Liquids, 2014, 3.25 x 4.25" unique dye diffusion transfer prints. By Matt Waples

 

Trigger Warning: This poem contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering for survivors of sexual assault.

 


 

A Letter from the Creative Editors:

We would like to explain the reasons for republishing “Untitled Love Attempt” by Anonymous, which has been the subject of controversy. We would like to clarify that the woman mentioned in the poem gave her consent to be depicted as she was, and we cannot make assumptions about the circumstances of her experiences, her understanding of them, or her relationship with the author.

Boilerplate strives to be a critical and engaging publication for marginalized voices who may not find avenues of expression elsewhere and we believe that the publishing of this poem does not restrict this goal. This poem does not condone rape culture, though some of the language in it may be triggering and we recognize that any work of art can have triggering elements as well as holding other interpretations. The Creative section presents us with challenges–of writing in conversation with or about trauma, of healing, and of finding ways to make sense of our experiences. When we originally read this piece, we found in it an artist’s sensitive attempt to grapple with a difficult experience through writing. While our immediate response to criticism about this poem was to remove it for fear of harming readers, upon reflection, we have decided that this reaction was too quick and it cut off avenues for more conversation. At this time, we remain committed to our original publication of poem.

Part of Boilerplate’s mission is to cultivate a space where difficult issues can be discussed. We make a patient, conscious effort not to publish anything derogatory, discriminatory, oppressive, or harmful, but we also promote freedom of expression and do not wish to censor any artists whose work attempts to engage with difficult subjects. In the future we plan to set up a “Forum” section on Boilerplate and hold more general body meetings so we can further the conversations around these art as well as other content, both online and in-person.

In sum, because the artist was given consent from the woman in the poem, because we do not wish to make any assumptions about the context of the events mentioned in the poem, because the poem does not promote or condone behaviors or attitudes that we consider offensive or oppressive, and because we do not wish to discourage other artists who hope to share work that grapples with sensitive topics, we have decided to republish the poem in its original form. We hope that moving forward we, both within Boilerplate and in the larger Vassar community, can sustain on-going conversations around the issues that affect our lives so closely and the ways in which we cope with them.

Sincerely,

Boilerplate Creative Editors

Isabel Moore ‘15

Lillian Kalish ‘16

Lanbo Yang ‘15

 


 

It snowed and the fire alarm went off and we were young,

You and I,

The others too,

But we’ve aged fastest since then.

We marched through the snow. You and the other girls complained because it was 20 degrees and you chose not to wear much clothing.

Our entrance was barred by the noise and the clamor so we hid in the nearest basement. All of us. It wasn’t our house and we didn’t mind.

When we got there you looked at me and smiled in that way I can’t write down, and you asked me quietly if I wanted to go back to my room.

And I’d said yes like you knew I would and wished I’d done yesterday.

I locked my door and we sat talking for a bit before I could kiss you even though we both knew why we were there.

The moon must have been full because you gleamed like marble. I cannot forget how it felt to kiss your stomach, to lay my head on you. I only wanted to be close to you.

 

And when I asked if you wanted me to come get plan B with you you blushed a little and said yes you’d like that a lot, and I knew you were too scared to ask. You asked me to come with you into the doctors room and they yelled at me to stay out, so you went alone.

You said they wanted to talk to women alone in case they’d been assaulted, and I understood but it seemed strange. And I’m remembering now that maybe you were in there for so long because you had been raped the night before I slept with you but I didn’t know it then and I’m sorry that I don’t know if you told the doctor that day or not. I’m sorry I didn’t see any of it then. And I’m sorry this couldn’t have been a happy poem I thought it was going to be when I started it I thought I could write you a love poem I’m so sorry this isn’t a love poem, I’m sorry I thought it would be. I only wanted to be close with you.

1 Comment

  • E says:

    My problem with this poem (and many of boilerplate’s marginalized dialogue-opening etc.. poems) is not that it’s triggering (which, as someone who has experienced sexual assault, this poem was) but that it’s plain old bad poetry.

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