Women in Public

Elaine Kahn (Author)

Product Details

$15.95  $14.67
City Lights Books
Publish Date
April 21, 2015
5.5 X 0.5 X 6.9 inches | 0.3 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Elaine Kahn is an artist born in Evanston, Illinois and currently based in Oakland, California. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a BFA from California College of the Arts. Kahn is the author of three poetry chapbooks: A Voluptuous Dream During an Eclipse (Poor Claudia/Octopus Books 2012), Customer (Ecstatic Peace Library, 2010), and Radiant Bottle Caps (Glasseye, 2008). Writing has been featured in Art Papers, Jubilat, Coldfront, SFMOMA's Open Space, Octopus Magazine, Boog City, NADA Contemporary Poetry Zine, and elsewhere.

Kahn's music project, Horsebladder, has toured widely throughout the US and Canada, performing with such acts as Body/Head, Secret Boyfriend, Samantha Vacation, Profligate, Jake Meginsky, Weyes Blood, Bobb Trimble, and many more. Her most recent LP, a split with Farewell My Concubine called After You, came out on Hot Releases in 2014. Other releases include the LP Not I'll Not (Ecstatic Peace, 2011) and the cassettes Summer (PSA Tapes, 2013) and Nicole (Night People, 2010).

Elaine is a co-founder of the feminist puppet troop Oh Behave, managing editor of the small press Flowers & Cream, and a member of the OMNI Oakland Collective.


"Kahn's precise and attentive debut full-length collection probes at notions of femininity with a sharp dagger, her terse but assertive stanzas carrying an understated conviction. 'Listen, I'm not political, I am distracted, ' she proclaims, though her focused language will convince readers of her intelligence and savvy. Kahn examines and attempts to understand womanhood, relationships, and the abjection surrounding both. Deeply personal, her poems exude a careful intimacy."--Publishers Weekly

"With Elaine Kahn's Women in Public in my back pocket, I am wondering how is it that anyone could ever identify with anything other than the abject, and how did the image of the poet ever become synonymous with that of a dandy? 'Do you think that you are greater than a mom?' Elaine Kahn writes later in the same poem, and then, later still: 'Life has its good points / And the fat, white thigh-bones / of a tourist.'"--Bookslut

"Kahn's poems don't end on the page. The ideas bleed from poem to poem, constructing a venous universe surging with the complexity of meaning making and the numerous contradictions so often forced upon the gendered human form ... Kahn packs her poems with a density as complex as the systems regulating the human body itself. However, where there could be claustrophobia, Kahn creates an opening, a portal for new meanings and definitions."--Entropy Magazine

"Elaine Kahn's debut full-length poetry collection, Women in Public, explores the odd continuity between motherhood, blow-up dolls, lack, and love, asking the question: 'What does the world hate more / than women / in public.' The poems read as attempts to capture the contradictory nature of the feminine--to live on the edge of being, both subject and object, consumer and consumed. In this attempt, Kahn navigates the distance between the McRib and the abject with a dark eroticism. She wields metaphors, or more so, absences, in ways that leave you feeling as if you're falling into them. These are poems about to unravel."--Small Press Distribution

"You can read this amazing book of poetry over the course of just one substantial subway ride. It has squishy imagery and also really good metaphors to make you feel things. 'A Voluptuous Dream During An Eclipse' is probably our favorite, but we love every single one of these poems."--The Fader

"[Women in Public] as a whole functions as a grotesque carnival of embodiment, and our speaker's performance a type of poignantly raunchy clowning, an intentionally obnoxious and uncomfortable striptease aimed at the gaze itself. ... Kahn's collection is more than simply a retaliation to society's ogling of the female in public. It is also an inquiry into the self situated within a Plathean lineage of women's identity poetry, and it is this inquiry that peers at turns through our speaker's sardonic tomfoolery, reminding us just how not-simple the issue is. Inasmuch as our speaker's vulgar clowning seems a sarcastic play off the confessional, her bites are shot through with a real vulnerability ..."--OmniVerse