BABY, I DON’T CARE BY CHELSEY MINNIS
“This poem is so fucking showy. / But you’re going to take it,” declares the speaker of Chelsey Minnis’s latest book. Baby, I Don’t Care takes direct inspiration from vintage films and the Turner Classic Movie channel, airing as a swanky monologue where “People in their nightgowns smoking cigarettes, they give great speeches.” With top-shelf brandy and a satin-noose, this meta-poetic collection, driven by the lyric-I, is a long and stormy love affair with riches and gratification. Through section after section, with curt titles like “Golddigger” and “Threats,” Minnis stacks verses like stacks of money, how we imagine this speaker might take a drink, neat and plenty. Her speaker—a self-aware, indulgent, and shallow tough-cookie—revels in her bratty vampiness poem after poem. “I like to scream in a satin bed / and get a baby bunny as a present. / I can’t stop thinking of myself and what might be to my own / advantage.” Continually, the speaker mocks the power struggle between her, the beautiful damsel, and her silent partner, an unnamed darling moneybag and she toes the line of female propriety. “One minor grievance is a handsome man. / I want to look at him but I don’t want to listen to him. / Am I allowed to say anything? Or should I just go lie down in my / coffin?”
Despite or because of the nonchalant directness of greed, a serious current runs beneath, bringing forth how this cinematic era minimized female intelligence as well as the desperation of the female figure in her limited agency, “Something matters, but what is it? / A window with a very long fall underneath?” Baby, I Don’t Care is a work of monstrous appetites—it’s insatiable, sensational, in need of the gaze while always playing indifferent to it. Like a cat toying with a bloodied mouse grows bored and leaves it to bleed out, Minnis’s speaker is merciless in her needs and yawns in the face of their destructions.
—Review by Madeline Vardell