Ah, where to begin with my beloved Dorothy Parker. I’ll be covering a visit to the Algonquin shortly under the food section, but it would be remiss of me not to include a drink or two under this literary heroine’...
Ah, where to begin with my beloved Dorothy Parker. I’ll be covering a visit to the Algonquin shortly under the food section, but it would be remiss of me not to include a drink or two under this literary heroine’s name.
You might forgive me if I wax lyrical a little on the subject of Ms Parker, as she is my absolute favourite female writer of all time.
I find it almost impossible to choose one particular Dorothy Parker poem as they are like children to me; I love them all equally, and have done since I first stumbled across her poetry aged fourteen.
Dorothy Parker was my companion during those drama-filled years of teenage angst. In her poetry, she seemed to channel all my secret thoughts on love, enunciating them with a captivating intelligence I could only dream of emulating.
She was the glamorous, witty, whip-smart older sister I never had, my female Hemingway who lived life hard and wrote about every minute of it.
Her poetry never spoke of diverging roads, golden daffodils or red, red roses. She wrote instead – with gritty, hard-earned realism – of visceral human experiences and emotions. Love, sex, grief, rejection, marriage and death were all treated with the same bleak cynicism, with much-needed levity provided by her famously caustic wit.
Her Capote-esque bitchiness and rapier-sharp tongue could be seen in poems such as Tombstones in the Starlight and her simple but lethal put-downs; an example being her insistence on referring to a much-hated stepmother as ‘the housekeeper’.
In her poetry, she mocked what she perceived as silly, girly hopes with a wise-cracking voice of womanly experience, focusing on her seldom abating disillusionment with love (…..By the time you swear you’re his, shivering and sighing. And he vows his passion is infinite, undying. Lady make note of this, one of you is lying).
Her stubborn insouciance and jaded, cynical outlook were tempered with an intense vulnerability. Reading the poetry as an adult I of course realise that the laser-like insight, leaden cynicism and blacker-than-coal humour spoke of an extremely unhappy woman, weighed down with relentless nihilism, culminating in her preoccupation with and eventual attempts at suicide (….Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live).
Dorothy Parker’s poetry was sharp, unforgiving but gloriously feminine and to me spelled the true, multi-faceted character of womanhood, as I was on the cusp of entering it.
Below is a short recipe to just one of where supposedly her favourite drinks (yep, there were a few) and further down, one of my all-time favourite poems of hers.
Whiskey Sour Recipe
Her mind lives in a quiet room,
A narrow room, and tall,
With pretty lamps to quench the gloom
And mottoes on the wall.
There all the things are waxen neat
And set in decorous lines;
And there are posies, round and sweet,
And little, straightened vines.
Her mind lives tidily, apart
From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart,
Out wailing in the rain.