How do you, as a woman, dare to write about sex?
I don’t want to talk about it— the men who think I’m some kind of skank. The grad school advisor who closed the office door and whispered that he was fantasizing
about me, and was I doing the same about him? The other professor who said he
knew all my poems were about him. The editor who wrote: I could use one of your
orgasms today. The other editor who sent me his phone number, address and blurry photo of what might have been his cock. Maybe I should stop, I said, but David
Lehman shook his head, “Men are disgusting. Don’t let them inhibit or silence you, Nin.” I was relieved to hear that Denise Duhamel received weird notes, too, after
writing The Woman with Two Vaginas. “I love vaginas, too,” one fan said. She told
me creepy stories about other women poets who dared to write about sex. And I
told her about this guy who called from a truck stop on I-95. He said he was going to
be driving by my hometown of Poland, Ohio, passing through en route to Chicago
and wanted to stop by, to meet the real Nin. Said that he had known a topless dancer called and Nin. Was I her? If my poems could shimmy and writhe, maybe I could, too.
I know I should have hung up right then, but instead I told him the truth: my poems
and I are not the same thing. That’s why I write them. Poems can say and do and
wear whatever they want—like Dolly Parton in heels and a low-cut blouse as she
sachets onto the stage and sings her sexy soul out to the world . . . You can fantasize
all you want, but the truth is, she doesn’t give a shit about assholes like you.