Becoming the Bronze Idol
I want a deathbed that is alien in its shape and
obscene in its beauty, opulent and libertine
so I fold myself up inside of a tiger orchid
-from "Botanical Garden"
Each of the poems in Becoming the Bronze Idol is, in itself, like a tiny deity. The anger in many of these poems—anger about the loss of identity and ancestry due to colonialism; anger about being treated differently due to racism and xenophobia—cuts like the righteous blade of a vengeful goddess. There are sex-poems and there are death-poems, and Mookerjee makes it clear that one does not exist without the other, in the same way that many goddesses are deities of both fertility and war. No matter the topic or mood, there is a lushness to this book. Whether writing about sex or rot, identity or familial ghosts, Mookerjee’s words ooze raw sensuality. Read Becoming the Bronze Idol the way you’d worship a goddess—in reverence to the beauty and the terror. Asking that you may be found worthy of receiving its blessings.
I was nobody’s angel in the centerfold
too ballet scrawny to have any curves
too darkskinned to light up a room
too short to tower over my haters
so I looked to my comic books my Sunday cartoons my Sailor Moon stickers
and I thought villains
I want an eyepatch and a black cat and nails that I can impale my enemies on let’s weaponize this shit I want to look like a
bitch from outer space
Praise for Becoming the Bronze Idol
Rita Mookerjee’s chapbook is such a vital, bright, and language-rich expression of a woman’s consciousness coming into being. The treasure of arresting, syncopated images in this collection is marvelous ("I hang like a fruit bat within wisteria/sorrowful plumes creep down my back and into my hair,” being one of my very favorites). These are both wonderfully lush and politically savvy poems, exploring the construction of a particular identity and sexuality with wicked humor, intensity, and with a necessary sting in their tail. Highly recommended.
-Erin Belieu- Poet and Professor of English at FSU, author of Slant Six and Black Box (Copper Canyon 2014; 2006)
The poems in Becoming the Bronze Idol pull no punches. This book is as much a call to weaponize femininity against our patriarchal world as it is an ode to the lacquered hard femmes who have succeeded in this quest. Mookerjee is an incisive new voice, and this is a smart, nuanced exploration of hybrid intersectional identity. These poems will cut you with their studded stiletto nails, and you'll like it.
-SJ Sindu- Author of Marriage of A Thousand Lies (Soho Press 2017)
For all of her karmic relevance, floral carnality, and rhythmic tapenade, Rita Mookerjee’s Becoming The Bronze Idol swells with stargazing anti-nirvanic feminism and darkskinned, kajalic incantation. A Hindu place where ‘white women’ can’t ‘use ‘their vaginas as psychic trash bins.’ Her poetry travels unapologetically from one ‘capable pelvic wall’ to the ‘cool roll of titanium’ to sunlit savasana smartly as if Mookerjee were born to be the kind of chanting light that slips dexterously and effortlessly beneath the undeniable portals of language. Her language body is “buoyant” and isn’t afraid to tackle any subject matters with her own lexical version of ‘gilded orbs and hoops’. It is possible that she expects her readers to have ‘a strong pelvic floor’ and to be capable of appreciating bloody henna, fish markets, calcium, and a botanical garden of nanis and wisteria and bindis and Asian anklets. Try not to be ‘chi deficient’ when you read her unmistakable tantalizing work.
-Vi Khi Nao- Author of SHEEP MACHINE (Black Sun Lit 2018) and UMBILICAL HOSPITAL (1913 Press, 2017)