20. THE CORSET. Detroit, MI: In Camera Books, 1986. 8x10" 28 pages. (P)
Offset, smyth-sewn paperback. Black-and-white photograph on cover by George Tysh. Cover designed by Chris Tysh. Designed by Jan Detlefs and produced by Precision Printing, Inc., in Royal Oak, Michigan.
“This is the last of the books in which I used other people’s words to compose a text about a single subject. In this case, tight-lacing. It’s one of the longest of the poems written in this form. The poem contains two 19th century poems, ‘To the Slaves of Fashion,’ which works as the introduction to the book, and in the middle, ‘The Lay of the Lacer.’ ‘To the Slaves of Fashion’ consists of five four-line stanzas. Here’s the opening:
You must try and lace me tighter, lace me tighter, mother dear;My waist, you know, is nearly half the size it was last year;I will not faint again, mother, I care not what they say,Oh! it’s sixteen inches today, mother, it’s sixteen inches today.
There’s many a wee, wee waist they say, but none so wee as mine;I’m five-foot-five-and-a-half in height, my inches forty-nine,Last year my waist was—Oh! it’s size I’d be afraid to say,But it’s sixteen inches today, mother, it’s sixteen inches today.
I wrote two more poems using this form, ‘Double Standard,’ which appeared in United Artists magazine, and ‘Difficult Times,’ which appeared in Everyday Life Magazine, edited by George and Chris Tysh, who were also the publishers of this book.” (LW)