Archive of the Undressed

Wolsak & Wynn, 2012

Reviewed by Katelyn Dykstra Dykerman

Before the internet, before pornography was available with the click of a button, before womens’ naked bodies popped up in front of the unsuspecting web-surfer, Playboy was queen. The centrefold was the epicentre of legal, commercial, mass-distributed pornography. The women who spread themselves across its pages were shot into stardom, glamour, and fame. The Playboy of its glory days is the inspiration for Jeanette Lynes’s newest book of poetry, Archive of the Undressed.

Written in her signature wry and witty style, Archive of the Undressed mixes humour and play with the dark, violent history and exploitative nature of America’s iconic pin-up magazine. She juxtaposes titillating young models with their washed-up later selves, their murdered colleagues, or, as in “A Rose for Yvette Vickers (1928–2010 or 2011),” their decrepit bodies, laying dead in homes where they are happened upon “dead possibly a year” by a neighbour, “swallows swooped through roof-vents in her dilapidated mansion. / White rain. Playmate with no one to play with.”

This review is excerpted from a longer piece published in CV2.

Katelyn Dykstra Dykerman is a PhD student in the Department of English, Film, and Theatre at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on bioethics and early twentieth-century explorations of ambiguous bodies.