About the Poems
by Sandra Beasley
Most of these poems are from my "Allergy Girl" series, which originated in my own experiences with chronic, severe allergies diagnosed in infancy, and examines the subsequent medicalization of childhood. "Allergy Girl II" was the first written in this vein (actually, one of the first things I wrote after completing my MFA...quite unlike the Medea sonnets I had been laboring on for the thesis). The poem captures my fascination with how kids create metaphors as coping mechanisms. For years those images--the workbench, the blue cubes and green cylinders, the cartoonish red plastic hammer--have sprung to mind any time I visualize a reaction. It is an odd yet comforting contrast to the feeling of your own throat swelling shut.
Later in the series, the Allergy Girl poems describe our speaker, who for her whole life has had to set up preemptive boundaries against touch, taste, and "contamination," trying to embrace the adult world. One messy, dangerous relationship at a time. And yes, "Allergy Girl VII" refers to a real incident. I was the "Girl on the Back of the Motorcycle" for an episode of Mondo Magic in 2005, featuring Harvey and his bed of nails. Blink and you missed it.
"How to Be Cruel" is a one-off for me: a prose poem, a dramatic monologue, a nod to my Texan roots. But there's something about it. Anyone who has ever spent a morning in one of those hothouse, linoleumed, rooster-and-corn-cob-adorned kitchens knows what I am talking about.