Khadijah Queen‘s I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (2017) is a collection of prose poems detailing encounters with men, men she had crushes on, men who ogled her, men who get away with treating women poorly, men who give her hope again. While the poems follow a similar format, starting with an introduction of which famous person she saw / met / talked to / almost met / her sister met / talked to, etc., they don’t get old. Their format strengthens them; the poems become the content, not the form. Khadijah has a lot to say and describe, and it’s a journey that explores the confines and loopholes of gender roles, sexuality, cultural expectations, and how these things are impacted by class, religion, and race.
She exposes a number of famous men as being undeserving of their fame because of the way they treat others; readers are left to wonder why the patriarchy serves them in the first place, “fangirling” them for derogatory, exploitative behavior. “I almost didn’t tell this story but sometimes it’s important to name names…” she writes in a poem about how she hasn’t met Donald Trump but she has been “grabbed by the you-know-what…”
The poem that made my stomach churn (the most) detailed the set of 1/2 Dead a music video shoot that Khadijah and her sister appeared in. “1/2 Dead’s degenerate entourage” tried spying on the women while they dressed, touched the women without consent, and “1/2 Dead himself” tried bribing her to party with them after the shoot. The scene here is problematic in so many ways, from the “dirty” behavior of the men to the premise that to get work in the acting / modeling / music industry, this kind of scene is expected. This is just part of the job.
The biggest reason I recommend picking up this collection – besides just marveling at the content and enjoying the conversationalist tone that these poems carry – is that it’s so relatable. Well, maybe not the famous aspect, but the situational relatability is so present it hurts. While it isn’t exactly a comfort to hear Khadijah’s stories, it is empowering; life as a woman is fucking hard. We put up with some shit. We are so often made to feel powerless, but voicing our stories, as Khadijah bravely does, is part of the solution; these poems – while doing their part to critique and provide accountability for the named men – serve as a embrace, a reminder that we have so much in common, and therefore, must change society together.
In the collection’s postscript (the final poem), she writes, “A man can break you with your own love if you don’t remember who you are among the nonbelievers. All praises due to the part of me that listens to herself first.”
I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On is available in softcover from YesYes Books at the current sale price of $16.20 plus shipping.