I <3 Burlesque Poetess

By: Edrie
February 15, 2010

A Belated Valentine

If You Wanta Be Mine - Fork Over Your Heart by jojo
If You Wanta Be Mine - Fork Over Your Heart by jojo

just as commis’ poems lead to my publication this year, our convo’s today, twatter, have encouraged me to do some BIG DREAMING ~ BIG PLOTS 11:24 PM Jan 25th @Poetesss

jojo Lazar is a published poet recent grad of the Lesley MFA program in writing, plays Ukulele in the band Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, is a visual artist and stand up comedian. Her moniker, the Burlesque Poetess reveals verse often hidden in pirate knickers. Her poetry is not confined to the page or the stage, but rather an ongoing dialogue she has with everyone and everything around her.

i believe capital P Poetry joins the Great Conversation w. the hist. of lit.- i feel rich in sources to converse with! 10:20 AM Feb 9th @Poetesss

jojo - moi om noming moi - by Justin Moore Justin Moore www.flickr.com/photos/bdjsb7
jojo - moi om noming moi - by Justin Moore Justin Moore www.flickr.com/photos/bdjsb7

Edrie: How did the Burlesque Poetess start and where has it brought you?

jojo: The Burlesque Poetess came to me during a depressing commute-walk late summer 2007. I was both recovering from an “I break my own heart, thank you” affair and contemplating how to write a “do you need any wenchy/cigarette girl/merch table help?” missive to The Steamy Bohemians, whose randy musical comedy stylings seemed like a little ray of badass sunshine worth looking into. It’s only recently that I realize my character’s beginnings, like the Broken Toys, came from a place of woe, needing to art my way out of the dark(ness). To be sure, the character evolved out of a year that felt like “a double gunshot wound to the heart,” and they say comedy is no different than tragedy, save for the ending, or maybe even the entire presentation! In this way, I was laughing at my condition, laughing my way out of it.

Thomas Peepers insurance. We know you’re okay because we’re watching you. 2:34 AM Jan 30th @Poetesss

Bird Feet Spitcurls by jojo
Bird Feet Spitcurls by jojo

Really the only difference between myself and The Burlesque Poetess is she cackles and roars with laughter at everything in my life, especially the stuff that makes me psychically uncomfortable. I am really a hopelessly awkward person inside, I write so so so many poems about social situations where I’m barely keeping it together, I’m so desperate to flee and be in the part of the evening where I’m writing about how surreal/ridiculous things felt. (Sometimes I’m too auto-referential for my own good.) So, The Bur’ Po’ came from a place of story-telling and self-reflection, and a devious plan to look hotsy-totsy in flapper/Betty Boop-wear, with the bonus of complex undergarments I would no doubt cock up enough to make for some amusing wardrobe malfunctions. I’m into working in two directions at all times, so this seemingly well-groomed, shiny-bobbed, bauble-sporting poetry-reciting creature I wanted to present seemed like an unexpected yet perfect vaudevillian vessel to contain the hopeless spaz (I had decided to embrace that) I am inside.

RT m’self (http://twitgoo.com/5a2rn) good god am i a pasty ass pale whisper of a glamour ghoul! gothling goes to a jew u reunion soiree… 8:50 PM Nov 23rd, 2009 @Poetesss

Cigarette Girl - jojo The Burlesque Poetess
Cigarette Girl - jojo The Burlesque Poetess

As for where has She/it taken me? Far far far away from being solely a cocktail-party crashing interrupting cow-style comedic interlude, though I am still getting paid to do that! It brought me to you & The Broken Toys, my first big variety show (The Carnal Carnivale, March08) and later I hosted my own Salon Gone Wrong: An evening of poetry & delinquency, it brought me on tour up and down the East Coast, it made an unintentional emcee out of me, I found myself in a tight-knit carnie family, and in Spring of last year I accidentally became a tenor ukulele player- eventually a band member in addition to comic relief. The Burlesque Poetessing also became my one-woman variety show/case to share my visual art and written word as merch (zine “niblets”, and stripping sonneteer $1 poems-on-the-spot). I also started to try my hand at singing, songwriting and other things I never felt I had any business doing and I went from “just happy to be here” and Truly Happy to, “holy crap what else can I invent and bring into being?” I have been liberated to bring my creative goals to fruition, because now I know there’s no reason why not! If not me, then who? Well, The Burlesque Poetess seems ready to rock out with her frock out. I’ll let her do it.

(yup, i nap this late at night. i have to be out again by 1am. peddling my verse in fishnets. what? caffeine this late = a dum necessity) 10:06 PM Jan 29th @Poetesss

Niblet Page by jojo
Niblet Page by jojo

Edrie: You are twitter.com/poetesss – how does your poetry combine with Twitter?

jojo: So I made a horrible/wonderful offer at a slew of live performances last summer that I’m still doing the work for, though the end is in sight! I offered commissioned poem requests to (some very patient) people on twitter (on topics of their choosing, a lot of these ended up being about my bum, David Bowie’s codpiece or syphilis, and for this I blame my stand-up dithering) Now that my graduate program has wrapped up I’m happy to say I’m writing half a dozen poem-drafts a night to make it up to the (gulp) nearly 40 people awaiting their gifts. They are en route! So, needless to say, my tweeple are my muses and encouragement, and like many bloggers/artists I count my blessings that I have an immediate audience for my work, and most importantly a real, interactive, badass audience. But more on them be-low… (poem requests are stashed at: http://poetesss.tumblr.com)

If you like any of my poem-commissions, RT! as you will, if you will, cld you fancy? yr very own word/locksmithy: http://poetesss.tumblr.com 3:56 AM Feb 6th @Poetesss

In general, the twatter is where I stick #poemlinestobe and silly things of a megalomaniacal nature. We’re one big over-sharing village. And “social networking” is a big part of my comedy.

mo’ half-tarted cam-hoing! your studio54 Alice, always looking for the key to the beautiful ‘lectric garden! http://twitgoo.com/da4qq 8:32 PM Feb 6th @Poetesss

@Poetesss Twitter
@Poetesss Twitter

Edrie: You did a documentary on journaling for WGBH what’s next?

jojo: Yes, the WGBH documentary, Lock & Key was me taking an alcoholic’s advice and saying yes to as many things as possible. I’m very pleased that my lifelong journaling addiction, auto-archival behavior could contribute to Chelsea Spear’s project, and I hear people’s enthusiasm over the video won her a prize.

jojo - photo by Justin Moore http://www.flickr.com/photos/bdjsb7/
jojo - photo by Justin Moore http://www.flickr.com/photos/bdjsb7/

Twat’s next? My lifelong dream has been to open a workshop/drop-in art space by day and performance venue by night, and now that I’ve got my “poetic license” (MFA) I’m going to try my hand at being the Burlesque Professoress, (whoever the Hell that’ll be!) and set to work building my dream-venue for vices now, on the internet for web-based cohort workshops/writing seminars (and not just with me as a teacherly sort as things progress). I have also been invited to mentor at the university level, so I’m excited to be exploring what established and independent educational institutions can accomplish and how they can cross-pollinate. I am a big advocate for making the art you want to be making if only to enrich your life- inevitably you’ll surprise yourself with where it can go. I am blessed with a highly imaginative audience and friend-fanbase that I am eager to give back to as a creative resource. Luckily I have 10+ years of doing not-much-else but studying poetry under my belt, so I have that and chutzpah to offer!

jojo playing in Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys - Robyn Gesek
jojo playing in Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys - Robyn Gesek

I will also be working on my most recent thesis manuscript for publication, and probably releasing more zine-versions of my poetry chapbooks “The Skunk at the Garden Party”, “Assassination Bruncheon,” and a wee project, “Fall in love with strangers: Other people’s love poems.” I’m a one-woman sweatshop, so any small presses that want to collaborate, hello! I am also recording on the new Broken Toys record this month, something I’m very grateful to be a part of. I also have this crazy notion of recording a CD of my Ziggy Stardust ukulele covers from side A of the LP, along with live-stand up clips, recited poetry, maybe some original tunes. This would be an album called, The Burlesque Poetess is – Rainbowie. Teehee. I guess 2010 will be a year without sleep. That’s OK, though. Sleep and pants are for quitters.

My thing this wk has been working the t-shirt I slept in into my work-appro outfits. This is clearly last wk’s burton shirt…downhill? 10:21 AM Nov 18th, 2009 @Poetesss

You can next see jojo the Burlesque Poetess as Right Hand Uke on 2/17 at Church of Boston playing in Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys with HUMANWINE, Do Not Forsake me oh my Darling and Sarah Rabdau


Artists in residence archive.

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Art, Haw-Haw, Kudos, Spectacles

What do you think?

  1. A great introduction to this artist, thanks Edrie! I am excited about “the Burlesque Professoress” project, hope that works out for jojo. I might have stayed in grad school if this was going on.

  2. I love this article and this woman and this writer and the magic that swirls around all things to make her as confident and true as miss jojo is.

  3. tbp also has asesome intervieweE skills!

    or edrie has awesome inetervieR skills!

    or both?

    love the multi-media presnetation

  4. first of all AAAAHHH!! i think i may have fallen in love a little.
    thanks edrie and thank you jojo.
    i was sat in my attic, seriously procrastinating,when i was pointed in the direction of this wonderful interview. now i am off to do some serious writing & ukulele playing! thank you my lovelies!

    love rosie (@aberlesquewyth) xxx

  5. thankyou edrie for giving me this opportunity. i am utterly overwhelmed. gosh. you are all my hellentines!

    thankyou len, jenna, and other commenters for your support.

    the meta-twitter comments are a surprise! oh no for sleep t-shirt being my closing line. let’s all go ROCK OUT WITH OUR FROCKS OUT! (and the Thomas Peepers is from SNL, don’t sue me Lorne! i claim-a-no-credit) something more coherent maybe later…

    love, your burlesque poetess

  6. Gasp! Not one but two of my fave artsy ladies as subject/writer of an article?! *swoon*

    Lucky little ol’ me was one of a ‘slew’ of Twitpeeps who took Mz. JoJo up on her offer to weave a commissioned poem… all I needed to do was merely tweet my topic of choice to her by midnight. My first infantile, ego-brained impulsive Tweet response was admittedly the most uninspiring topic of ‘unicorns’… sigh, I know. And yet, this potty-mouthed darling dolly managed to create an epic tale of a world in which unicorns are the lawkeepers of chastity forced to round up wanton young maidens who would sooner steal their horns than invite them into their laps for a chaste nap. With it came a gorgeous watercolor painting and her token “niblet” containing a hand-written copy of the poem and a smattering of whimsical sketches strewn throughout. It was so far beyond expectation I think I momentarily traveled back in time to the age of six when magickal treasures such as these were more commonplace. Forget oysters, the world is this girl’s ocean and she is pillaging the high seas of poetry and prose like the pantless pirate that she is.

    Charmed at first sight I was by Mz. Edrie Edrie and the Burlesque Poetesss… XoXO

  7. This was wonderful! I am so glad to have met you both, and if I hadn’t, this would make me want to! Fantastic work!

  8. Edrie and Jojo, you both continue to awe and amaze me every day. I simply can not wait to see what you will both create in the future, because there is no doubt that it’s all going to be unbelievably great.

  9. Yay!!!! 2 of my fav ladies making some of my fav work! this is a wonderful article Edrie!! Go go art women of the endtimes!!

  10. Thank you all for such great comments – it’s really been a pleasure doing these – with only a week left in my residency, I know I will miss it!

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