There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé uses political and pop-cultural references as a framework to explore 21st century black American womanhood and its complexities: performance, depression, isolation, exoticism, racism, femininity, and politics.
""By acknowledging, if not embracing, imperfection, Parker allows the struggles and the messiness of life—with a particular focus on black womanhood—to breathe ... popular culture has become a trademark of Parker’s work. She doesn’t seem to be preoccupied with timelessness as such. Rather, her poems are concerned with specificity of both time and place, depicting the intimacies and intricacies of contemporary life as a black woman in America. It is through popular culture that a shared experience is created; it’s a way to bridge differences. And yet, Parker is also able to reach the elevated language of poetry, most directly by using works from the canon of fine art as the other main referents in her poetry ... For Parker, there is no divide between what can and cannot exist as poetic language. Her lyrical poems are often arranged in couplets, with occasional internal spacing to dramatize temporal and idea shifts. The images are often clear and direct and sometimes surreal, punctuated with social commentary, raw feelings, and wit. Parker’s brilliance is found in her ability to complicate the gaze on black womanhood. By depicting the varieties of experience, from Hottentot Venus to Michelle Obama, Parker is able reclaim black womanhood as beautiful in its entirety.""
...one of the pleasures of Parker’s book is her use of persona. There are so many Beyoncés in this book—Beyoncé 'on a Shrink’s Couch,' 'White Beyoncé,' Beyoncé mashed up with Yeats, Beyoncé assembling her will—and so many appearances of Black womanhood and identity throughout pop culture and history ... There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé exists in conversation with that battle for self-preservation and survival. 'I do whatever I want because I could die any minute./I don’t mean YOLO I mean they are hunting me,' writes Parker. The book that holds these lines cannot be reduced to discussions about clickbait-y reinventions of poetry. It is not about the poetics of pop culture. It’s about something much more complicated. And much more beautiful.
...a brash, risqué collection that explores what it means to be a black woman in contemporary American culture ... Each woman in this fierce collection wants to be seen for who she is, not what society wants her to be, and each demands respect. As one woman explains: 'There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé': self-awareness and education, for example. Wryly celebrating personal growth, the speaker notes: 'Combing your records you’ll see the past and think OK/Once I was a different kind of person.'”