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Book Review: ‘There Are Better Things Than Beyoncé’ Leaves You Raw

The book doesn’t so much begin, as it explodes. We immediately feel Parker’s frustration at feeling invisible in the first poem, “All They Want Is My Money My Pussy My Blood.” If you’re thrown off by the title, Parker has succeeded. Throughout the book, she switches between styles from funny to profound to skewering, but almost each poem has atleast one line that will leave you with your jaw clenched, feeling empowered and restless at the same time.

In the poem, she nonchalantly remarks, “At school, they learned that black people happened” speaking about a group of kids.

It’s a small line, but once the last word leaves your mouth, you’re left with just one thought: why are we always taught about black identity as a thing that happened in the past?

The book is a how-to manual for modern love, sexuality, feminism, politics and culture, without giving a damn. (Photo courtesy: Oprah.com) The book is a how-to manual for modern love, sexuality, feminism, politics and culture, without giving a damn. (Photo courtesy: Oprah.com[1])

The collection isn’t about Beyonc? per se, but rather the socio-cultural expectations her fans have of her as the flawless Queen Bey. At her book launch, Parker explained by asking “What do we actually know about Beyonc?, aside from her music?” Not much. In Parker’s poems, Beyonc? is constantly misunderstood, unable to meet the unfair expectations of the public. “The President’s Wife” begins, “Sometimes I wonder / Is Beyonc? who she says she is.” In the book’s shortest poem, “What Beyonc?

Won’t Say on a Shrink’s Couch,” she says: “What if I said I’m tired
and they heard wrong
said sing it.” The title of the book is literal: Parker believes that Beyonc? is not the only example of black womanhood.

Various powerful women appear in the poems: multiple Beyonc?s Michelle Obama, Queen Latifah and even Lady Gaga as tropes or mouthpieces for Parker to convey that “We’re everyone.

We have ideas and vaginas, history and clothes and a mother.”

References

  1. ^ Oprah.com (www.oprah.com)

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