Review of Anne Waldman’s Matriot Acts

May 24, 2010 (Originally on Kore Press Website 2010) and later

on Press 1. Volume 4, Number 2, September-December 2010.

In Matriot Acts (Chax Press, letterpress chapbook, 2010), Anne Waldman goes to war with “The Patriot Act”.  In this performance poetry text, she takes to task “Patriot”, and all of its relatives and ancestors, examining and then crossing them off.  Cross off Patriarch, Patriachal, Paternalism, Pater Familias.  Cross off Wall Street (“the belly of the beast”). Because the destructive “Pater” energy in the universe is out of whack, the opposition must come into play.   When the freedom of speech, privacy and movement are chiseled away, and the U.S. citizens sit and watch tv and play with their computers, then the loud-mouth poets need to speak out, chant, call upon the energies of reversal, call for a “Matriot Act”. And so this Feminafesto. Anne calls forth the Matriachal, Matrilineal, Matrotism. Yes to restore balance, the opposition is needed, and here it is the female principle, the “woman-mind”.  The poets must band together like the mothers of the disappeared—wake up the women, change the world—mothers and sorceresses.  Waldman chants and screams and begs to “Invoke the sweep of history.” Words that start with “pa” are implicated all over these pages.   Then she turns to the “ma”. “Will I trust my activist eyes” “to dance out of the cage”? In between the acts, two old poet-god/esses that have been in hibernation for a while start to talk, an “Old beard” and an “Old she-bear”.  Where did we go wrong?  Where is the she-bear to go now? “Get arrested and listed as a beard?”  And the chorus pushes forward: “Matriot, run riot!” And then the poem-play-words begin to dance, invoking the great protectress Kali (“Kali is also an alphabet . . . mother of language”). To right the universe, Kali begins her shakti dance on the body of Shiva, the great destroyer.  “Each letter, a form of energy, a twinge of energy, a torque of energy.”  To ban drones, predators and handguns and stop the violence, stop the war.  The Buddha came when compassion was needed.   The great mother Kali comes when she is needed, but first we must call for her. Waldman’s play-poem is a grand calling forth of the female poetic principle. To stop the war. Stop it now. Stop.