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Poetry. LBGT Studies. In this sequence of prose poems addressed to 2002 American Idol reality TV show winner and insta-star Kelly Clarkson, Julia Bloch engages an America more willing to choose its next Fox, Coke, and Ford spokesperson than its next elected official. Through these letters, Bloch disassembles the faux-political phenomenon of the Fox Network reality TV smash hit, invoking critical questions about celebrity, democracy, femininity, and desire, as well as the mass cultural corporatization of the female body. LETTERS TO KELLY CLARKSON takes up these issues in poems that combine the intimacy of the epistolary form with the sonic intensity of verse. Employing formal methodologies aimed at interrupting and foregrounding the cultural politics of that intimate address, such as cut-ups, aleatory practices, non-narrative prose techniques, and parataxis, these poems mediate the tensions between local pleasure and global capital through the desirous and politicized spectacle of the pop star.
As Julia Bloch turns her razor-sharp gaze to American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, she adopts the beseeching tone of a fan and the intimate address of a best girl confidante. All women know what it's like to be watched, but for Kelly, it's that scary feeling upped a notch, like the viewers' eyes have been pumped full of steroids. The gaze works both ways: the ghost of Kelly Clarkson follows Bloch everywhere, from San Francisco girl bars to Midwestern family reunions. For all their complexity of diction, there's a touching simplicity to Bloch's poems. By taking Kelly seriously, on her own terms, Bloch moves beyond the safety of 'camp' into a realm of genuine tragedy and love. It's a stunning collection. Dodie Bellamy