Sea Sharp is an Afro-Native American poet who immigrated to England in 2012. Sharp is a Pushcart Prize winner (2017), Prairie Seed Poetry Prize winner (2015/16) and a Kansas State University graduate with qualifications in Creative Writing, Literature, Theatre, and Women’s Studies. They are passionate about dismantling intersectional oppressions and promoting compassionate behaviour and lifestyles. You can visit their website here.
BACKGROUND: THE BIOGRAPHY OF CALAMITY JANE
Calamity Jane was an American frontiers-person and scout who fought against Native Americans (perhaps even my ancestors). I was inspired to write Jane’s biographical poem as a writing exercise for National Poetry Month. Like myself, it seems perhaps more fitting to describe Jane’s gender as “non-binary” (although this term is contemporary) in that “she” appeared comfortable and perhaps preferred being identified as non-woman. I wanted the ambiguous form of this poem to mimic Jane’s gender identity. I neglected structured forms and line breaks, just as Jane neglected femininity, a characteristic associated with womanliness. I found Jane’s willingness to defy and question gender roles, both brave and dangerous, particularly for the time period. The fact that this entire poem is a single run-on sentence, the size of a paragraph, was a choice made entirely to satisfy my own personal humour. It is quite impossible to soberly consider someone’s entire life when it has been reduced to half a page! “The Biography of Calamity Jane” appeared previously in the first issue of The Wild Ones: A Quarterly Queer Lit Rag http://www.wildonespub.com/index.html.
THE BIOGRAPHY OF CALAMITY JANE
They used to call her a trigger happy bitch grippin’ one no no
two ivory handled revolvers gettin’ buck-rowdy like Wild
Bill lickin’ up the last drops of red liquor in saloons and this gal she
got the sepia skin she ain’t beauty queen she ain’t Oakley girl with a western
show like a damned act grinnin’ at Cody blowin’ kisses like magic and tuhdah
no sir-not her-this gal-she got some dirt on her boots got some grit in her teeth
and she patrols the whole frontier peelin’ back scabs from her tiny bruised
knuckles before she cracks them pop poppoppop ohhh right on the nose goddamn
you motherfuckers don’t tussle with her fringes don’t rub trouble on her coonskin cap
she will clench her six shooters in her fists like oooh-yeahyeahyeah-uhuh and squishy explosions of heads splatter when she squeezes out that bangbangbang it makes her
grin like shit her mama said she used to be the sweetest thing martha jane
pink cheeks blonde curls yes sir the cutest shin kickin’ spit spatterin’ lil’ lady
of these here goddamn plains.