Two Reviews of Kate Durbin’s Kept Women

 

parrot-15-fc

Two Reviews
of Kate Durbin’s Kept Women

Kept Women
Kate Durbin

Parrot Series #15
Matthew Timmons, Ed.

Insert Blanc Press
November 2012
12pp., saddle-stapled
$9

by Jon Rutzmoser

 

1. Marilyn Monroe
2. Margie Harrison
3. Margaret Scott aka Marilyn Waltz
4. Dolores Del Monte
5. Marilyn Waltz
6. Joanne Arnold
7. Margie Harrison
8. Neva Gilbert
9. Arline Hunter
10. Jackie Rainbow
11. Madeline Castle
12. Diane Hunter
13. Terry Ryan
14. Bettie Page
15. Jayne Mansfield
16. Marilyn Waltz
17. Marguerite Empey
18. Eve Meyer
19. Janet Pilgrim
20. Pat Lawler
21. Anne Fleming
22. Jean Moorehead
23. Barbara Cameron
24. Janet Pilgrim
25. Lynn Turner
26. Marguerite Empey
27. Marian Stafford
28. Rusty Fisher
29. Marion Scott
30. Gloria Walker
31. Alice Denham
32. Jonnie Nicely
33. Elsa Sorensen
34. Janet Pilgrim
35. Betty Blue
36. Lisa Winters
37. June Blair
38. Sally Todd
39. Sandra Edwards
40. Gloria Windsor
41. Dawn Richard
42. Carrie Radison
43. Jean Jani
44. Dolores Donlon
45. Jacquelyn Prescott
46. Colleen Farrington
47. Marlene Callahan
48. Linda Vargas
49. Elizabeth Ann Roberts
50. Cheryl Kubert
51. Zahra Norbo
52. Felicia Atkins
53. Lari Laine
54. Judy Lee Tomerlin
55. Linné Ahlstrand
56. Myrna Weber
57. Teri Hope
58. Mara Corday and Pat Sheehan
59. Joan Staley
60. Joyce Nizzari
61. Virginia Gordon
62. Eleanor Bradley
63. Audrey Daston
64. Nancy Crawford
65. Cindy Fuller
66. Marilyn Hanold
67. Yvette Vickers
68. Clayre Peters
69. Marianne Gaba
70. Elaine Reynolds
71. Donna Lynn
72. Ellen Stratton
73. Stella Stevens
74. Susie Scott
75. Sally Sarell
76. Linda Gamble
77. Ginger Young
78. Delores Wells
79. Teddi Smith
80. Elaine Paul
81. Ann Davis
82. Kathy Douglas
83. Joni Mattis
84. Carol Eden
85. Connie Cooper
86. Barbara Ann Lawford
87. Tonya Crews
88. Nancy Nielsen
89. Susan Kelly
90. Heidi Becker
91. Sheralee Conners
92. Karen Thompson
93. Christa Speck
94. Jean Cannon
95. Dianne Danford
96. Lynn Karrol
97. Merle Pertile
98. Kari Knudsen
99. Pamela Anne Gordon
100. Roberta Lane
101. Marya Carter
102. Merissa Mathes
103. Unne Terjesen
104. Jan Roberts
105. Mickey Winters
106. Laura Young
107. Avis Kimble
108. June Cochran
109. Judi Monterey
110. Toni Ann Thomas
111. Adrienne Moreau
112. Sandra Settani
113. Sharon Cintron
114. Connie Mason
115. Carrie Enwright
116. Phyllis Sherwood
117. Victoria Valentino
118. Christine Williams
119. Terre Tucker
120. Donna Michelle
121. Sharon Rogers
122. Nancy Jo Hooper
123. Nancy Scott
124. Ashlyn Martin
125. Terri Kimball
126. Lori Winston
127. Melba Ogle
128. China Lee
129. Astrid Schulz
130. Rosemarie Hillcrest
131. Kai Brendlinger
132. Jo Collins
133. Sally Duberson
134. Jessica St. George
135. Jennifer Jackson
136. Sue Williams
137. Maria McBane
138. Hedy Scott
139. Gay Collier
140. Lannie Balcom
141. Patti Reynolds
142. Allison Parks
143. Pat Russo
144. Dinah Willis
145. Judy Tyler
146. Melinda Windsor
147. Priscilla Wright
148. Karla Conway
149. Dolly Read
150. Kelly Burke
151. Tish Howard
152. Susan Denberg
153. Dianne Chandler
154. Linda Moon
155. Lisa Baker
156. Susan Bernard
157. Surrey Marshe
158. Kim Farber
159. Fran Gerard
160. Gwen Wong
161. Anne Randall
162. Joey Gibson
163. Heather Ryan
164. DeDe Lind
165. Angela Dorian
166. Reagan Wilson
167. Kaya Christian
168. Lynn Winchell
169. Connie Kreski
170. Nancy Harwood
171. Michelle Hamilton
172. Gaye Rennie
173. Elizabeth Jordan
174. Britt Fredriksen
175. Melodye Prentiss
176. Gale Olson
177. Dru Hart
178. Majken Haugedal
179. Paige Young
180. Cynthia Myers
181. Leslie Bianchini
182. Lorrie Menconi
183. Kathy MacDonald
184. Lorna Hopper
185. Sally Sheffield
186. Helena Antonaccio
187. Nancy McNeil
188. Debbie Hooper
189. Shay Knuth
190. Jean Bell
191. Claudia Jennings
192. Gloria Root
193. Jill Taylor
194. Linda Forsythe
195. Chris Koren
196. Barbara Hillary
197. Jennifer Liano
198. Elaine Morton
199. Carol Willis
200. Sharon Clark
201. Debbie Ellison
202. Madeleine Collinson & Mary Collinson
203. Avis Miller
204. Carol Imhof
205. Liv Lindeland
206. Willy Rey
207. Cynthia Hall
208. Chris Cranston
209. Janice Pennington
210. Lieko English
211. Heather Van Every
212. Cathy Rowland
213. Crystal Smith
214. Claire Rambeau
215. Danielle de Vabre
216. Karen Christy
217. Marilyn Cole
218. P. J. Lansing
219. Ellen Michaels
220. Vicki Peters
221. Deanna Baker
222. Debbie Davis
223. Carol O’Neal
224. Linda Summers
225. Susan Miller
226. Sharon Johansen
227. Lenna Sjooblom
228. Mercy Rooney
229. Miki Garcia
230. Cyndi Wood
231. Bonnie Large
232. Julie Woodson
233. Anulka Dziubinska
234. Ruthy Ross
235. Martha Smith
236. Phyllis Coleman
237. Geri Glass
238. Valerie Lane
239. Monica Tidwell
240. Christine Maddox
241. Nancy Cameron
242. Francine Parks
243. Pamela Zinszer
244. Marlene Morrow
245. Marilyn Lange
246. Sandy Johnson
247. Carol Vitale
248. Jean Manson
249. Kristine Hanson
250. Ester Cordet
251. Bebe Buell
252. Janice Raymond
253. Lynnda Kimball
254. Laura Misch
255. Ingeborg Sorensen
256. Victoria Cunningham
257. Bridgett Rollins
258. Azizi Johari
259. Lynn Schiller
260. Lillian Müller
261. Mesina Miller
262. Jill De Vries
263. Janet Lupo
264. Nancie Li Brandi
265. Daina House
266. Laura Lyons
267. Ann Pennington
268. Denise Michele
269. Patricia Margot McClain
270. Debra Peterson
271. Deborah Borkman
272. Linda Beatty
273. Whitney Kaine
274. Hope Olson
275. Patti McGuire
276. Karen Hafter
277. Susan Lynn Kiger
278. Star Stowe
279. Nicki Thomas
280. Lisa Sohm
281. Sheila Mullen
282. Virve Reid
283. Sondra Theodore
284. Julia Lyndon
285. Debra Jo Fondren
286. Kristine Winder
287. Rita Lee
288. Ashley Cox
289. Debra Jensen
290. Janis Schmitt
291. Christina Smith
292. Pamela Jean Bryant
293. Kathryn Morrison
294. Gail Stanton
295. Karen Morton
296. Vicki Witt
297. Rosanne Katon
298. Marcy Hanson
299. Monique St. Pierre
300. Janet Quist
301. Candy Loving
302. Lee Ann Michelle
303. Denise McConnell
304. Missy Cleveland
305. Michele Drake
306. Louann Fernald
307. Dorothy Mays
308. Dorothy Stratten
309. Vicki McCarty
310. Ursula Buchfellner
311. Sylvie Garant
312. Candace Collins
313. Gig Gangel
314. Sandy Cagle
315. Henriette Allais
316. Liz Glazowski
317. Martha Thomsen
318. Ola Ray
319. Teri Peterson
320. Victoria Cooke
321. Lisa Welch
322. Mardi Jacquet
323. Jeana Tomasino
324. Terri Welles
325. Karen Price
326. Vicki Lynn Lasseter
327. Kymberly Herrin
328. Lorraine Michaels
329. Gina Goldberg
330. Cathy Larmouth
331. Heidi Sorenson
332. Debbie Boostrom
333. Susan Smith
334. Kelly Tough
335. Shannon Tweed
336. Patricia Farinelli
337. Kimberly McArthur
338. Anne-Marie Fox
339. Karen Witter
340. Linda Rhys Vaughn
341. Kym Malin
342. Lourdes Estores
343. Lynda Wiesmeier
344. Cathy St. George
345. Connie Brighton
346. Marianne Gravatte
347. Marlene Janssen
348. Charlotte Kemp
349. Lonny Chin
350. Melinda Mays
351. Alana Soares
352. Christina Ferguson
353. Susie Scott Krabacher
354. Jolanda Egger
355. Ruth Guerri
356. Carina Persson

357. Barbara Edwards
358. Tracy Vaccaro
359. Veronica Gamba
360. Terry Nihen
361. Penny Baker
362. Justine Greiner
363. Dona Speir
364. Lesa Ann Pedriana
365. Patty Duffek
366. Tricia Lange
367. Liz Stewart
368. Suzi Schott
369. Kimberly Evenson
370. Debi Johnson
371. Roberta Vasquez
372. Karen Velez
373. Joan Bennett
374. Cherie Witter
375. Donna Smith
376. Cindy Brooks
377. Kathy Shower
378. Devin DeVasquez
379. Hope Marie Carlton
380. Cher Butler
381. Venice Kong
382. Cynthia Brimhall
383. Pamela Saunders
384. Carol Ficatier
385. Sherry Arnett
386. Julie McCullough
387. Kim Morris
388. Teri Weigel
389. Christine Richters
390. Rebecca Ferratti
391. Lynne Austin
392. Ava Fabian
393. Rebekka Armstrong
394. Katherine Hushaw
395. Donna Edmondson
396. Laurie Carr
397. Luann Lee
398. Julie Peterson
399. Marina Baker
400. Anna Clark
401. Kymberly Paige
402. Sandy Greenberg
403. Carmen Berg
404. Sharry Konopski
405. Gwen Hajek
406. Brandi Brandt
407. Pamela Stein
408. India Allen
409. Kimberley Conrad
410. Kari Kennell
411. Susie Owens
412. Eloise Broady
413. Diana Lee
414. Emily Arth
415. Terri Lynn Doss
416. Helle Michaelsen
417. Laura Richmond
418. Shannon Long
419. Pia Reyes
420. Kata Kärkkäinen
421. Fawna MacLaren
422. Simone Eden
423. Laurie Wood
424. Jennifer Jackson
425. Monique Noel
426. Tawnni Cable
427. Erika Eleniak
428. Gianna Amore
429. Karin van Breeschooten & Mirjam van Breeschooten
430. Karen Foster
431. Renee Tenison
432. Petra Verkaik
433. Peggy McIntaggart
434. Pamela Anderson
435. Deborah Driggs
436. Lisa Matthews
437. Tina Bockrath
438. Bonnie Marino
439. Jacqueline Sheen
440. Melissa Evridge
441. Kerri Kendall
442. Brittany York
443. Lorraine Olivia
444. Morgan Fox
445. Stacy Leigh Arthur
446. Cristy Thom
447. Julie Clarke
448. Christina Leardini
449. Carrie Jean Yazel
450. Saskia Linssen
451. Wendy Kaye
452. Corinna Harney
453. Samantha Dorman
454. Cheryl Bachman
455. Tonja Christensen
456. Wendy Hamilton
457. Suzi Simpson
458. Tanya Beyer
459. Tylyn John
460. Cady Cantrell
461. Anna Nicole Smith
462. Angela Melini
463. Amanda Hope
464. Ashley Allen
465. Morena Corwin
466. Tiffany Sloan
467. Stephanie Adams
468. Barbara Moore
469. Echo Johnson
470. Jennifer LeRoy
471. Kimberly Donley
472. Nicole Wood
473. Elke Jeinsen
474. Alesha Oreskovich
475. Leisa Sheridan
476. Jennifer Lavoie
477. Carrie Westcott
478. Jenny McCarthy
479. Julianna Young
480. Arlene Baxter
481. Anna-Marie Goddard
482. Julie Lynn Cialini
483. Neriah Davis
484. Becky DelosSantos
485. Shae Marks
486. Elan Carter
487. Traci Adell
488. Maria Checa
489. Kelly Gallagher
490. Victoria Zdrok
491. Donna Perry
492. Elisa Bridges
493. Melissa Holliday
494. Lisa Marie Scott
495. Stacy Sanches
496. Danelle Folta
497. Cynthia Brown
498. Rhonda Adams
499. Heidi Mark
500. Rachel Jean Marteen
501. Donna D’Errico
502. Alicia Rickter
503. Holly Witt
504. Samantha Torres
505. Victoria Fuller
506. Kona Carmack
507. Priscilla Taylor
508. Gillian Bonner
509. Shauna Sand
510. Karin Taylor
511. Angel Boris
512. Jessica Lee
513. Jennifer Allan
514. Nadine Chanz
515. Ulrika Ericsson
516. Victoria Silvstedt
517. Jami Ferrell
518. Kimber West
519. Jennifer Miriam
520. Kelly Monaco
521. Lynn Thomas
522. Carrie Stevens
523. Daphnée Lynn Duplaix
524. Kalin Olson
525. Nikki Schieler
526. Layla Roberts
527. Inga Drozdova
528. Karen McDougal
529. Heather Kozar
530. Julia Schultz
531. Marliece Andrada
532. Holly Joan Hart
533. Deanna Brooks
534. Maria Luisa Gil
535. Lisa Dergan
536. Angela Little
537. Vanessa Gleason
538. Laura Cover
539. Tiffany Taylor
540. Dahm triplets
541. Jaime Bergman
542. Stacy Marie Fuson
543. Alexandria Karlsen
544. Natalia Sokolova
545. Tishara Cousino
546. Kimberly Spicer
547. Jennifer Rovero
548. Rebecca Scott
549. Kristi Cline
550. Jodi Ann Paterson
551. Cara Wakelin
552. Brooke Richards
553. Carol Bernaola & Darlene Bernaola
554. Suzanne Stokes
555. Nicole Marie Lenz
556. Brande Roderick
557. Brooke Berry
558. Shannon Stewart
559. Neferteri Shepherd
560. Summer Altice
561. Kerissa Fare
562. Nichole Van Croft
563. Buffy Tyler
564. Cara Michelle
565. Irina Voronina
566. Lauren Michelle Hill
567. Miriam Gonzalez
568. Katie Lohmann
569. Crista Nicole
570. Heather Spytek
571. Kimberley Stanfield
572. Jennifer Walcott
573. Dalene Kurtis
574. Stephanie Heinrich
575. Lindsey Vuolo
576. Shanna Moakler
577. Nicole Narain
578. Anka Romensky
579. Tina Jordan
580. Heather Carolin
581. Christi Shake
582. Michele Rogers
583. Lauren Anderson
584. Christina Santiago
585. Shallan Meiers
586. Teri Harrison
587. Serria Tawan
588. Lani Todd
589. Rebecca Ramos
590. Charis Boyle
591. Pennelope Jimenez
592. Carmella DeCesare
593. Laurie Fetter
594. Tailor James
595. Marketa Janska
596. Colleen Marie
597. Luci Victoria
598. Audra Lynn
599. Divini Rae
600. Deisy Teles & Sarah Teles
601. Colleen Shannon
602. Aliya Wolf
603. Sandra Hubby
604. Krista Kelly
605. Nicole Whitehead
606. Hiromi Oshima
607. Stephanie Glasson
608. Pilar Lastra
609. Scarlett Keegan
610. Kimberly Holland
611. Cara Zavaleta
612. Tiffany Fallon
613. Destiny Davis
614. Amber Campisi
615. Jillian Grace
616. Courtney Rachel Culkin
617. Jamie Westenhiser
618. Kara Monaco
619. Qiana Chase
620. Tamara Witmer
621. Vanessa Hoelsher
622. Amanda Paige
623. Raquel Gibson
624. Christine Smith
625. Athena Lundberg
626. Cassandra Lynn
627. Monica Leigh
628. Holley Ann Dorrough
629. Alison Waite
630. Stephanie Larimore
631. Sara Jean Underwood
632. Nicole Voss
633. Janine Habeck
634. Jordan Monroe
635. Sarah Elizabeth
636. Kia Drayton
637. Jayde Nicole
638. Heather Rene Smith
639. Tyran Richard
640. Giuliana Marino
641. Shannon James
642. Brittany Binger
643. Tiffany Selby
644. Tamara Sky
645. Patrice Hollis
646. Spencer Scott
647. Lindsay Wagner
648. Sasckya Porto
649. Sandra Nilsson
650. Michelle McLaughlin
651. Ida Ljungqvist
652. Regina Deutinger
653. AJ Alexander
654. Juliette Fretté
655. Laura Croft
656. Kayla Collins
657. Valerie Mason
658. Kelly Carrington
659. Grace Kim
660. Jennifer and Natalie Jo Campbell
661. Dasha Astafieva
662. Jessica Burciaga
663. Jennifer Pershing
664. Hope Dworaczyk
665. Crystal McCahill
666. Candice Cassidy
667. Karissa Shannon
668. Kristina Shannon
669. Kimberly Phillips
670. Lindsey Evans
671. Kelley Thompson
672. Crystal Harris
673. Jaime Faith Edmondson
674. Heather Rae Young
675. Kyra Milan
676. Amy Leigh Andrews
677. Kassie Lyn Logsdon
678. Katie Vernola
679. Shanna McLaughlin
680. Francesca Frigo
681. Olivia Paige
682. Claire Sinclair
683. Shera Bechard
684. Ashley Hobbs
685. Anna Sophia Berglund
686. Kylie Johnson
687. Ashley Mattingly
688. Jaclyn Swedberg
689. Sasha Bonilova
690. Mei-Ling Lam
691. Jessa Lynn Hinton
692. Iryna Ivanova
693. Tiffany Toth
694. Amanda Cerny
695. Ciara Price
696. Rainy Day Jordan
697. Heather Knox
698. Leola Bell
699. Lisa Seiffert
700. Raquel Pomplun
701. Nikki Leigh
702. Amelia Talon
703. Shelby Chesnes
704. Beth Williams
705. Alana Campos
706. Pamela Horton
707. Britany Nola
708. Amanda Streich
709. Karina Marie
710. Shawn Dillon
711. Ashley Doris

by Lysette Simmons

 

With Kept Women — Kate Durbin’s contribution to Insert Press’ PARROT Series — the poet continues her exploration of “cinesexuality” and the public’s fascination with reality-as-entertainment. Durbin notes that her “inspiration for the voice was crime scene reportage, decorating magazines, and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, all fused.” One easily hears John Waters subbing for Robin Leach in this macabre lifestyles tour. The reader floats alongside the speaker throughout the grounds of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in a manner similar to Gaspar Noé’s camera-ghost in Enter the Void. Indeed, the observed realm is almost as grotesque, alluring, and debauched as Noé’s Void, and one might be reminded particularly of the Love Hotel sequence. Yet, in contrast, there are no humans to be seen throughout Kept Women — only evidence of their inhabitation…where are Hef’s “kept women?

Kept’s formal aesthetic draws from the surreal meandering of E! Entertainment’s reality television show, “The Girls Next Door.” All of the poems have exaggerated margins, forcing the language into a TV-like box, apparently without consideration for possible line breaks or stanzas. Throughout the course of the poems, readers notice that Hefner’s girlfriends have been similarly boxed. In contrast with E! Entertainment — Durbin’s previous work with reality television and star-obsessed media also on Insert Blanc Press — the poet never transcribes dialogue. And though the women themselves are never seen or heard, the degree of curation imposed on the lives of these women is observably huge. The theme of curation is central to the work, particularly through tools of control, history, façade, and preservation.

The opening poem, “Divine Destination,” features the only living creatures in Kept Women; and even then, the presence of “flamingoes, peacocks, African cranes, macaws, monkeys, rabbits, llamas, and dogs” only serves to “add a rainbow hue to the…color scheme.” The lyric’s slant rhyme between “macaws” and “dogs” has a nursery-rhyme rhythm, and what is the effect of nursery rhyme but to preserve itself in a child’s memory? In the context of the Playboy Mansion’s rooms, consider the definition of curation; to carefully select, arrange, and preserve specific objects for posterity. One might then think of Kept Women’s speaker as docent to the Playboy-Mansion-as-museum, each curated room its own poem. Further, the curation in the rooms increasingly reflects that of a set or scene. The objects and their placement — whether intentional or apparently hazardous — give hints as to the fate of absent characters.

As such, façade affects everything. This includes exterior “sloping hills, idyllic” only for their intended purpose, which is, of course, to be slid down upon by bare silicone breasts, or to delight lucky guests with sheets of artificial snow whenever Hef decides winter should grace his California Kingdom. In “Stone Sanctuary,” façade confronts “nature” in the Mansion’s infamous grotto; its interior “implanted with panels of prehistoric objects,” while human “hair in stages of blond” clogs the pool’s filters. One could write entirely on tangent about the double meaning of “stage,” here in the context of performativity and “blondeness” — the book, after all, presents readers with stages upon which these blondes must perform.

“King’s Quarters,” reveals the peculiar tapestry that is Hugh Hefner’s highly curated personal history. The very first line’s masculine, alliterative consonance in “mammoth monarch’s master” enforces a mood of domination and control. The speaker catalogues the bedroom’s carefully selected clutter, which ranges from high to low culture, vintage to contemporary, obvious to quirky. Then, the speaker starts accounting an eerie series of control mechanisms that thread the rooms and lives of Kept Women. Juxtaposed with the clutter, the closet contains “men’s Prada shirts — ten in every color — and thirty red velvet bathrobes. There is also a row of twenty pink silk women’s pajamas in various sizes, shrouded in plastic.” Hefner has clearly mastered the art of icon…yet “art” is not an insidious enough term to describe the mathematically chosen, shrunkwrapped garb available for she who can fit into it.

Even the sexual ephemera found, unsurprisingly, in every poem-room become less novel when seen placed so close to “a bottle of Viagra” in the “Roman Fountain” bathroom; “a prescription bottle of Clomid” in near photographs of previous girlfriends in the “Vintage Vanity”; “an unmarked bottle of pink pills” near the “Control Clutter Closet…(color and calendar coordinated)” in the women’s “Pink Playpen.” These women’s lives are controlled through the placement of objects around them; everything from physical appearance to sexual and reproductive organs is controlled. The speaker of Kept Women reveals that compartmentalization takes place in each room of the Mansion — she who physically resides within is not seen or described because she is not important; the Mansion’s objects and surroundings are central to the speaker-docent’s tour, for whoever resides within inevitably becomes the figure the scene has been set for.

As the reader moves from the master bedroom, through the bathroom and vanity, to the women’s bedrooms, Durbin intensifies moments of anxiety and terror that began earlier in the “Stone Sanctuary.” There, in one of Kept’s purposely rare moments of emotional register — made all the more heartbreaking for the plain reportage — readers find sea “sponges in the shower [that] were once natural, living creatures.” This elicits a crucial anxiety that heightens throughout the poems’ sequence of “events” — or rather, rooms as evidence of people and events: some degree of trauma has occurred within the observed space. The speaker catalogues objects in a tone removed of emotion, just as a medical examiner might report damage done to a cadaver. The sponge reminds the reader of a victim; something that once lived, now, as object, signifies death. The pool’s broken glass shards echo through to the “half empty bottle of Absolut Vodka under the bed” in the “Tomboy Boudoir.” The bottle’s hiding-place smacks of secret drinking, and its discovery next to a Las Vegas phone number (no name attached) evokes a sense of desperation.

This is not to say the poet intends a direct criticism of Hefner’s lifestyle; Durbin seems more concerned with the reader’s relationship to the content’s presentation — much in the way one worries less about what the daily news is than the way daily news is delivered. By the end of Kept Women, Durbin successfully changes the viewing activity of reality-as-entertainment into an active reading of trauma, or post-trauma. Readers become increasingly self-aware as the speaker’s emotional detachment from the scenes feels tensely at odds with the negated inhabitants. The women’s physical bodies are acutely absent from the poems, as if the speaker is treating a fresh crime scene like a museum tour. Again, where are Hef’s women? Durbin has called such celebrated televised bodies “ciphers for our desires we don’t want to name and claim.” Cipher, by definition, also means “zero,” or, a person who seems to have no will of his or her own. Durbin presents zero-women in Kept Women, and in the poet’s words, “the price for being a cipher, especially if you are a woman, is very high.” Kept Women is a well-crafted observation of curation, both in life and onscreen, and its effect on the viewer. Just as Hefner controls his life, image, and “girlfriends” through selection, availability, and placement of objects, Durbin, through her speaker, controls what the reader sees, and, perhaps more importantly, does not see.


Jon Rutzmoser is an artist, writer, and educator living in Buffalo, NY. His writing has appeared in Drunken Boat, Joyland, X-TRA, Prism of Reality, and artforum.com. He is the author of shhhh! it’s poetry, forthcoming from Insert Blanc Press, and Dinner Poems, co-authored with Amanda Montei and forthcoming from Bon Aire Projects.

Lysette Simmons is from California, where she studied Creative Writing and Music History at UCLA. She has studied with Ben Lerner, Anselm Berrigan and Marjorie Welish at Brooklyn College where she recently earned an M.F.A. in poetry. Lysette Simmons’s forthcoming chapbook, Dear Robert, won the Wild and Wyrd Poetry Chapbook Contest, judged by C.A. Conrad, in 2011. Dear Robert will be released by MadHat Press in 2013.