The poet and author, best known for her long poem Rape Joke, talks about her extraordinary memoir, Priestdaddy, and growing up in the midwest
If you had no idea who Patricia Lockwood was and encountered her at a hotel in Westminster, as I did last week, this is what you would have seen across the breakfast table: a slim, 34-year-old woman with close-cut dark hair like the painted bob of a wooden doll. Earrings – twin globes – pale as peeled lychees and nail varnish to match. A face born to be surprised, with saucer-wide eyes, responsive eyebrows, a curvy mouth. The voice: amused, high, slightly babyish. The accent: American midwestern, with the suggestion of a whine – somewhere between relish and incredulity – at the way life pans out. But nothing about her appearance could betray what her extraordinary, eccentric and entertaining memoir Priestdaddy or her outlandish poetry collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, reveals. And I already know as much about her parents as about Lockwood herself.
Her father – the Priestdaddy of the title – was on a nuclear submarine off the coast of Norway during the cold war and watching The Exorcist (he saw the film more than 70 times in 88 days) when he underwent an unlikely conversion to Catholicism and became, having found a loophole in sacerdotal law, a married priest. Lockwood’s mother (“the most quotable woman alive”) is unusual too, although less flamboyantly strange. Had her mother been able to join us, Lockwood ruminates, she would certainly have ordered iced tea and certainly immediately sent it back, protesting it tasted like “sewage”. “That would happen because it has happened at every single breakfast, lunch and/or dinner I’ve had out with my mother.” This certainty about oddball details is part of the Lockwood – Tricia to her friends – magic, although she wonders aloud, more than once, where her authority comes from. With no college education, she has risen out of slush piles and triumphed. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker and the London Review of Books and she has had rave write-ups in the New York Times.
The two antecedents in literature for my father are Toad of Toad Hall and Uncle Matthew from Nancy Mitford’s books
Mum was sitting in darkness with her laptop open, a haunted expression on her face: "I have just read Rape Joke"Continue reading...