“They’ve made me a Queen”: Revisiting “Our Lord Jesus in Drag”

Dayna Patterson’s cross-dressing Jesus has been on my mind lately. (Take that as you will.) One reason for this is because, since I wrote about Dayna’s “Our Lord Jesus in Drag” in July 2012, I’ve wanted to give it voice. And I’ve wanted to give it voice because the first time I read the poem it’s rhythms struck me as something that would translate dynamically into verbal performance. In fact, that first time I heard echoes in the poem of the voice Susan B. Anthony Somers-Willett (cool name, right?) uses in her performance of “Ophelia’s Technicolor G-String.” I’m including two versions here, one video, one audio, so you can both see and hear the poem in performance (the sound in the video is pretty quiet, but it’s much better in the audio version; so you could just listen to the audio version, but do watch Somers-Willett in action, too):

(Audio from Indiefeed: Performance Poetry)

I think the connection between the poems is apparent in more than just the voice that brought them together in my head, though. For one thing, both Dayna and Somers-Willett address and foreground the performativity of identity as they re-imagine familiar characters using the practices of alternative sexual communities. In other words, both poets have made their characters queens. I hope to write more about these poems and the connection between performativity and Mormonism as manifest in Mormon poetries, but for now here’s my performance of “Our Lord Jesus in Drag”:

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