“Miley Cyrus Presides Over the Funeral for The Twerk” by Cortney Lamar Charleston

Cortney Lamar Charleston


I’m glad you know that twerking is so yesterday … the new dance is called ‘The Nae Nae’ … I don’t really know the origin. Just my dancers, the LA Bakers, they taught it to me… so then I started doing it, which is kinda what happened with the twerking, too.
—Miley Cyrus

As we gather here today, we do so with heavy bass,
tatted up, J’s on our feet, carrying wrecking balls
to tear this church down once we leave—
because sadness in the passing of life
is for boring old white people: wack. This is
a party. This is what The Twerk would’ve wanted,
I know. I knew her so well. I remember hearing
an old saying, I think from 2-pack, maybe
Snoop D-O-Double-G, that you live by the gun,
you die by the gun. I’m not sure how it fits
the occasion quite yet, but let’s just say
The Twerk wasn’t a gangster or a gangster’s
trick—she didn’t deserve to go so soon,
but life is hard in the ghetto, I hear
from all my friends in the streets and
struggle. Folks were mad when we started
cliquing like some triggers, were so appalled
by the moving and the shaking, the rump
to bump, but you can’t hate on that. If
you got ass, then use it. The Twerk taught me
well. How do you think Robin Thicke became
THAT famous a dick? It was these hips, this
tongue. That was us—me, and her, too. She
was backstage with the Bakers, counting
all the paper pouring in, posting the good word
on Twitter. And all you tweeted back at her
was venom. That girl had a family, she had kids
to feed—Nae Nae, lil’ Shmoney—kids who
survive her. And I promise to treat them like
they’re my kids, since I loved their mother
so much. I will make sure they become the stars
they deserve to be, so that when they die, they
too can be buried in ivory caskets scrubbed clean
by a toothbrush. Mike Will, make it so. Mike Will,
if you’re here, make it so! We can’t stop now.

Poets Respond
October 26, 2014

[download audio]


Cortney Lamar Charleston: “One of the greatest benefits (to the recipient) of a privilege—race, gender, class, sexual orientation—is erasure. I had a little fun with the latest Miley Cyrus headline that “twerking” was dead. If you research, you’ll know that Miley never claimed to introduce twerking to anybody … but nonetheless, she became the world’s most famous twerker, despite it being around for so long among a certain sub-culture of folks. I think this episode speaks not only to how certain things are co-opted and appropriated from one group or person by one with more status/power/privilege, but also how the more powerful group or person doesn’t always see the harm or disrespect that the lower card will feel. We need perspective around that, but it is not always easy to find.” (website)

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