By Julia Cirignano
Thank you to Wave Books for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hang on baby, this is a good one! I was blown away by of Chelsey Minnis’s recent release Baby, I Don’t Care. I sped through this 272-page collection of poetry with vigor–smirking at the sassy chaos. This is a book for people who believe that Daisy Buchanan is a feminist and Lana Del Rey makes sense.
Cut into 39 sections with titles such as “Laziness”, “Gold Digger”, “Murder”, “Iceberg”, and “Greatness”, Minnis exploits herself, her lovers, money, sex and much more. Minnis is light and unusual within her writing, presenting lines such as, “This isn’t a drink, it’s pure leopard sweat”, left up to the interpretation of the reader.
Using her lyrical tone, Minnis oozes sarcasm and sparkles as she explores the oddities of the world around her. She is a tough woman searching for a glamorous life, but she is also a girl in pain. Her poetry is refreshing because she portrays herself as a jazz singer with the lights down low instead of the typical heartbroken poet. She uses humor and quirk wit to cover up her pain, but it’s still there.
While inconspicuously talking about pain and depression, Minnis stumbles onto an important concept. When trying to be happy, the hardest part is letting go of the sadness that feels comfortable in its familiarity,
“In order to be happy I have to sacrifice my misery.”
In her Lana Del Rey-esk way, Minnis glorifies the life of the rich and famous. She dramatically states,
“One time someone refused to give me a pink topaz and I fainted.”
Minnis also reminds me of Del Rey when she talks about tending to a man. While she talks about relationships from several different standpoints, it was interesting to hear her explain how she keeps her stance as a feminist while still staying dedicated to pleasing her man.
Minnis is a gangster in her own right, yet a princess in everyone else’s mind. She is the type of woman whom men are afraid of. She is not sentimental, diamonds are a must, and she will use sex to get what she wants. Yet, while she is stubborn and selfish in the best way possible, she also takes a moment to liberate women who may not be like her,
“Every women’s entitled to her hot tears if she wants them.
It’s not a state secret, darling.”
Minnis, being the feminist that she is, plays around a lot with the concept of aggressive sexual behavior both in the form of assault and consensual encounters. One powerful example that she weaves into her alluring poems,
“Someone who kisses your shoulder when they’re not supposed to.
I’m wearing high heels by the pool so that makes everything OK.”
Love as a well as sex is a game for Minnis, but why? There are many times where she exploits herself, explaining how she uses sex to get what she wants.
“Write me a good line or I’ll zip up my dress.”
In this case, Minnis is using sex to gather inspiration. While she doesn’t literally want her lover to write her a poem, she wants to be so inspired by his actions that she feels they are a line of poetry themselves. If he cannot do that for her, he is no use to her. She’s living for herself, so if she doesn’t get what she wants she will leave.
Minnis isn’t afraid to explore any of her deepest darkest feelings, especially when it comes to sex. There are many instances where she explores the balance between love and abuse — seemingly crosses the line several times. Yet, I don’t believe that she’s just a kinky woman, I believe she’s also a tormented soul.
In this respect, she occasionally reminds me of Daisy Buchanan. The only difference between the two is that Minnis teasingly says that she is too lazy for greatness with Buchanan chalks it up to stupidity. Minnis says,
“I wonder about things, but not too much!
You must understand the great laziness.”
While Minnis spends a decent amount of this book talking about the importance of being rich and having diamonds, she begins to contradict herself towards the end of her story by saying,
“You have no idea how this ‘money money money’ bores me.”
Is this Minnis’s truth? Was she using sarcasm all along? I ask myself this question a lot during this book, yet I think that may be the point. While she is opinionated and strong-willed, she is also full of contradictions and she sometimes goes against her own values. This is what makes her human,
“Don’t worry. I’ve known myself forever.
One word of praise would cause me to act contrary to my own self-interest.”
While some of this poetry was not made to be taken literally, I loved the world wind of Minnis’s unexpected phrases,
“I want to wear a satin evening gown and drive a steamroller.”
“I’m trying to squander my sex appeal, but it’s terribly hard.”
“I desire to have a true humility,
but it’s hard,
and men are no help.”
“You’re so handsome it’s a shame.
It makes me want to murder some pigeons.”
“How do you make a million dollars worthless?
With love, baby.”
“There’s a pretty good chance I love you,
but I’ll have to take it up with my board of directors.”
“I’m a pair of diamond earrings away from sleeping with you.”