Re: RARA-AVIS: when a cigar is not a cigar award

From: George Upper (
Date: 26 Apr 2002

--- Robison Michael R CNIN <> wrote (or quoted, actually):
> The symbolism inherent in her name [Birdie]
> also underscores her androgynous state. Birds can
> be
> regarded as phallic symbols; their cylindrical
> bodies and
> erect heads contribute to this interpretation, as
> well as
> the common use of the word "bird" as a euphemism for
> "penis."

Ugh. This is the kind of nonsense that makes me hope for a job outside of the academy. Note her language:
"birds CAN BE regarded" blah, blah. Sure, they CAN BE. For that matter, so can anything longer than it is wide. Ugh again.

Also, I note that this post generated a lot of conversation about "bird" representing men or women or both (I haven't read it all, but I'm surprised not to have seen the expressing "odd bird" yet). Anyway, what this writer says is not that "bird" is slang for
"man," but for "penis." I have never in my life encountered such a usage of the word "bird." Perhaps there is an example out there, but it sure as heck ain't in "common use."

I'm sorry to rant, but this kind of thing really ticks me off. It gives people who want to do serious readings of serious texts a bad name. And please note that I am NOT against this type of reading of a text--it has validity, IMHO, when done well and in the proper context (I will humbly point to my paper on androgyny in Carroll John Daly, mentioned recently here, as a poor attempt to meet these criteria). But I object to things done badly. I haven't read the whole thesis, and don't plan to, but if miker's selection is a representation of the whole paper...well, I can't add much to "ugh."


===== George C. Upper III, Editor The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal

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