Printed as the liner notes of a record jacket and supplemented by a 7” EP, with musical accompaniment by multi-instrumentalist Randy Faucheux, Psychic Privates by Kim Vodicka is a hilarious, obscene, tender, vulgar, and beautiful chapbook.
To an inflexible, or rather, reflexive reader, it is easy to see how, at first glance, they could be discouraged, or worse, offended by Vodicka’s crassness or obscenity.
However, the chapbook, which will be included as part of a full-length collection of the same name to be published by White Stag Press in 2018, and its accompanying recording, is anything but shy, and instead of compromise, Vodicka owns her explicitness and screams ecstatically into the ether, summoning her audience to engage in the confrontation head-on.
In Psychic Privates, Vodicka employs the obscene to great effect in often hilarious and surprising ways, and cleverly combines her playful diction, love of double-entendres, and humor into a reading experience that asks her audience to suspend their own fastidiousness and discomfort, and instead, to get dirty.
Vodicka takes a carton of matches and a tank of gasoline to the male gaze, sexual violence, and watches it all burn; rearranges the refuse of chauvinism; and reassembles it into a collage, pushing the language and her readers to uncomfortable lengths in order to destroy the language of shame, humiliation, and disenfranchisement.
At its core, Psychic Privates shows readers a refusal to cede power to the expectations of decency, and a repudiation of the pressures of misogyny and bigotry. For even beyond the hilarious and the obscene, there is an incredible vulnerability and strength in Vodicka’s work and as Vodicka turns language on its head, she blindfolds her readers, takes off their civility, and leaves everyone exposed.
While the discussions over artistic license versus artistic responsibility are essential and important (I happen to fall into the latter camp), it is authors like Vodicka, who beckon their audience to push the conversation, the media, and the methods to the edges of possibility in order to wrestle with these complex and controversial ideas, and to find growth in unexpected places.
Even as academics, poets, readers, and reviewers, continue to hash out these disagreements online and in print, if anything, it is the itchy hilarity, exquisite vulgarity, revolting beauty, and difficult possibilities of work like Psychic Privates that continues to make these poignant discussions necessary, and for that, I am thankful.