Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy by Jennifer Funk is a stark collection of poetry that is pervaded by a fiery dynamism giving rise to ruminations on domesticity, the self and the insatiable nature of desire. With a rich, sonorous diction and imagery Funk paints a world where the self is no longer just I, but a you and me. This is reminiscent of the theoretical focus of the social thinker George Herbert Mead. To say Funk makes use of powerful contrast is an understatement as this narrative is one layered with juxtaposing notions that command the reader to contend with their own perceptions of loving and indeed, of the fantasy we often convince ourselves of.

“I have nothing better to do. Look at the crest
of my lips. I have sunk more than one ship
with this mouth. Perhaps you don’t merit
my attention, but you need it: a good shake
of the old snow globe. How ever to begin?” (3)

Funk’s coarse words on men are something special in that they center the female narrator’s power, perspective and above all, ability to control that is seldom missing from such depictions. This presentation has a dual-fold impact. Firstly, it highlights that there is one source of control and power in this narrative and despite an insatiable desire for love, the narrator does not surrender themself to a delusion that reduces their power. Secondly, this duality can be understood through the intense language play that allows the reader to comprehend this power in terms of a delicate sensuality that teases the reader and indeed, men. This affirms that women’s power, whilst present, is only growing to eclipse that of simple, banal masculinity.

Perched on my toes, arching my whole torso over the cheese
while flattening my left palm on the steel’s spine and cupping
my right hand in an easy fist around the bolster.
Like holding a bat, like giving a hand job: ready
and ready to let go. Aggressive. Supplicant.(6)

The aforementioned extract illustrates this sensuality but also the sexual dynamism of the mundane. The sultry moments found in the monotony of suburban existence or postmodern repetition. A careful economy of language can be seen to caress the reader’s mind and usher them through this narrative.

Funk reflects on consent and the idea of being ‘dumb and grateful’ and how hegemonic masculinity has tried to warp the notion of consent in favor of itself and its perpetuation. Intriguingly, Funk does this through such poignant and almost humorous metaphor that the reader is made to come to terms with the ludicrous, inhumane experiences that so many women suffer due to the hands of men who objectify and maim, assault and desecrate.

She stays
for the bullfight. Secretly
relishes it, I think. The color rising
in her, the blood just there, under
her skin. It seems impossible
for a woman to live without
a little fiction, so many men intent
on muscling their way to the end
of the sentence. (35)

Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy is a collection that warps the mind of the reader in the most magnificent of ways as the reader comes to terms with the fantasy of this 21 st century living, this world where men still exert immeasurable control. But Funk challenges this control and underlines that women are rising and reclaiming a world ripped from them for millennia. This striking collection bleeds raw rouge truths as one reads on. Read this remarkable debut now!



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