Youthquaker (Girl of the Year)

by: , January 27, 2020

© Ciao! Manhattan (1972), dir. John Palmer

‘she was like art; I mean, she was an object that had been very strongly, effectively created’.

Robert Rauschenberg


‘Though she is the great theme of art, woman as empirical being is acceptable only by virtue of her supposed inspirational powers.’

Silvia Bovenschen (1977: 114)



What a strange thing it is

to be made over in his image

not merely

the vessel of communication

but the very thing

reborn through

acrylic high

 black denier

white pancake

silver to the tip

neither object nor metaphor

but a better version of real

a tin foil star

in bruised up fur

dancing to the big time

as men down

glasses of their own urine

in aluminium rooms

the scent of so many vitamins

the air ripens to grime

this profane monument

to all manner of atrocity

what kind of emotion

can you put into art anyway?

I am a work of my own labour




I have calibrated every gram

of this finely tuned spread of hell

and sent it walking backward

down sixty-third street in heels

because I


can do that

– & he knows it –

after all

he has so little

he must corrupt

the love

I have to give

as his sole divulgence

and payment

Seeing as I’ve already had

it all taken from me by

 speedfreak queen bees

and amphetamine annies

I will ask you once more

have you seen my



everything that moves, baby

just tons of original

no pisseur of

tawdry copie,

am I

you get used to these things

– it is easier than you might think –

the daily doses of death

the skeletal trails

the nude descending staircase

the hot electric flicker

of camera, bed and mind

I bite down into all of it and hard

but I can’t say

no I won’t say

that I dig any of it.


© Jean Stein.


Bovenschen, Silvia (1977), ‘Is There a Feminine Aesthetic?’, New German Critique, No 10, pp 111-137.

Ciao! Manhattan (1972), dir. John Palmer.

Spark, Muriel (1988), A Far Cry From Kensington, London: Constable & Robinson Ltd.

Stein, Jean (1982), Edie: An American Biography, New York: Jonathan Cape.

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