Jennifer Martenson: Xq28


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Xq28 is a satric response to the so-called “gay gene” that made headlines in 1993. Noting that no genetic marker for “lesbianism” has been found, the poem quickly becomes ensnared in footnotes. Mock-inquiries into the biology of lesbianism in the vocabulary of genetics and linguistics result in a hybrid world where the category of “woman” is a “dense, fibrous tissue.” More concerned with codes of conduct than with genetic codes, Xq28 does not take sides on the nature/nurture question as much as it plays around in the ideological context of the debate.

Jennifer Martenson’s poems have appeared in Re: Chapbook 4, HOW2 and Insurance. She lives in Chicago. Xq28 is her first book.

Martenson appropriates the authoritative diction and discourse of science, and makes it boomerang back on itself…. [It] provides a deadpan mask for her ambition, behind which she exercises a talent for almost subliminal nuances of rhetoric. The loop-the-loop of qualifications, piled-high clauses, and parenthetical statements complicates arguments until they’re hanged by their own cockeyed logics…. She stitches in seamless slips of language aimed at exposing the cultural fallacies and sexist assumptions inherent in the cross-fire environment of the so-called gay gene (a chromosomal region designated Xq28)…. There’s nothing artificial or superficial about her own deeply investigatory impulses. She bonds description to rhizomic narrative in an admirable sort of ‘molecular origami.’

–Christine Hume, Chicago Review