In embodying the Greek god Narcissus, Jayy Dodd’s speaker in “Narcissus Stunts for the Void & Becomes a Flower” is unapologetically assured in themself: “i am a genius & i won’t say that again.” The significance in Narcissus as a medium of expression for the “self” comes from the admiration of one’s own beauty. That is, the speaker’s self-love is not an object of shame or vanity, but acceptance:
before i knew what i was, I WAS, & knowing was the best thing for me.
yet, after knowing what i am, i am, & will be: all i have left.
i am the coagulation of so much wonder.
The speaker’s confidence communicates a conscious truth. On top of becoming cognizant of “self,” the speaker establishes an affinity between the perception of their identity and their body:
this body been a bxtch, i just call her one now.
Jayy Dodd’s speaker validates the feelings behind the fluidity of gender—regardless of the outer performance. The speaker asserts the ability to accept their presence in this world as their own awareness, never relying on the “comprehension” of those around them:
i write my own anthems. make you sing them back to me.
listen to me now but hear what you want anyway.
The speaker refuses to rely, or even consider, the response of others to give validation to their own existence. The unapologetic tone from the beginning stanza carries throughout the entirety of the poem, making Narcissus the perfect instrument to exhibit the reliance on “self” from self-appreciation. In result, the speaker withstands erasure and survives, but only through a paradox:
i have left enough beautiful portraits to remember me by.
i dare this world to take me out completely.
you can’t obliterate what never was.
The gripping confliction that the speaker illustrates is a confrontation with social death, signifying the paradox of existing, but with the challenge of navigating the silencing and erasing of autonomy. The speaker asserts their survival in a world that continues to act on social murder, but the act of poetry & art, and breathing & existing for the “self’s” demand, is a literal mark in challenging society’s “obliteration.”
Furthermore, Dodd’s speaker follows Narcissus’s course, becoming the “flower,” and admits to “[settling] in the abyss / not more unforgiving than the river.” Again, Dodd’s speaker’s tone refuses to acknowledge regret, much like Narcissus. In recognizing beauty in one’s “self,” the admiration the speaker holds for themself is the downfall, but the perplexity lies in realizing that the same admiration that caused Narcissus’ death, is one that keeps the speaker alive.
Click here to read Jayy Dodd’s “Narcissus Stunts for the Void & Becomes a Flower” published in Big Lucks.
— Miguel Soto, Asst. Managing Editor; Book Review Editor