Hey little buddy. Hey bud. Hey buddy.
Brooklyn's Holly Melgard is astute, concentrated, and calculated. Her work in Catcall is driven by the power and effectiveness of performance. It directly addresses the problem of verbal harassment (specifically catcalling) by repositioning the problem to face (target) the anonymous man who would otherwise be in a position of power, in the position of the harasser. This is a polyvocal piece merging the actual act of catcalling (in a poetic variant) with the reflection/commentaries of those making the catcalls. It approaches this phenomenon as oppression and misogyny, and redirects the anticipated scenario so that the anonymous man, the target, at least in the text, becomes both the antagonist and protagonist of these situations, these stories, these narratives. Through moments of absurdist shock, the work succeeds in creating a perplexing, if not disturbing, scenario of revelation and bluntness. Catcall also reinforces what so many have known for so long but have been distanced from, blocked from, made numb to. The result is a work that utilizes language to embrace the problem as one needing addressing, while also exploring (through language) a more accessible way to talk about the issue of harassment as a whole. Though the book itself lacks description on the intent or inspiration for itself (which is, honestly, only slightly needed), the book succeeds to transform the reader to the place and time of the every-instant of these crises, these moments of violence. It is uplifting and exciting to see works like Melgard's created to reinforce an acknowledgment of and witness to the cruelty of the world we live within, that many otherwise do not actively respond to transform. Reading Melgard's work will, through its intense yet accessible experimentation, make the issue of harassment more relevant and approachable than the status quo paradigm.
Catcall by Holly Melgard was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2017.
All reviews by Greg Bem unless marked otherwise.
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