Sundress Reads: Review of Low Budget Movie

An image of the “Low Budget Movie” book cover. The cover features a photograph of a messy bathroom countertop from above with an open drawer full of miscellaneous toiletries. On the counter there are items like an electric toothbrush, a hair straightener, makeup, and an open stick of deodorant. The title of the book and the author’s names (Kendra DeColo and Tyler Mills) are in bright yellow letters.

Kendra DeColo’s and Tyler Mills’ collaborative poetry collection, Low Budget Movie (Diode Editions, 2021), uses subversive language and sexual innuendos to explore and deplore imitation, misogyny, and consumerism through a highly Americanized-lens filtered by pop culture, heteronormativity, and capitalist ideals. As the title suggests, the collection has a cohesive movie motif. This motif is so prevalent that structurally the collection of ten poems is divided into two acts: “Prop Mistress” and “Misogyny ABC’s.” 

The opening poem, “Love Poem with Whip-Its and HGTV” introduces readers to the blunt tone and feminist-leaning of the collection. In this poem, and in many others, words take on dual meanings—straightforward and sexual. For instance, in the lines “spit, swallow you in my open concept/living room. Yes, I’m a sucker for HGTV,” the noun sucker refers to both oral sex and being especially fond of a television channel (DeColo, Mills 11).  Similarly, in the line, “but I’ll slip two fingers into your bad caulk work,” the use of homophone creates a sexual innuendo (DeColo, Mills 11). The conscious choice to use language that evokes double meanings feels paralleled with the double standards the collection investigates. 

While language that evokes double meanings begins on page one, by the fourth poem in the collection, “Challenge in TV Yellow,” the theme of imitation helps to explain how these linguistic choices impact the speakers. The poem personifies an imitation 1954 Gibson guitar which guides the reader to consider how women are objectified: “…Your imitation is rubbed down/to wood where the body of it swells/because of the forearms that sweat there, owning/and trading it in…” (DeColo, Mills 15). The idea that the body of the guitar has been owned, traded, and held by multiple people seems to affect its value and serves as a metaphor for sexual shaming. This is solidified in the line, “Give me paint, give me a neck that hands haven’t touched,” in which the speaker would prefer something pure, untouched, rather than a used guitar (DeColo, Mills 16). Other thoughts on imitation are expressed in the poems “Watching Magic Mike with John Waters at the Provincetown Movie House,” “Prop Mistress,” “Poem with a Million-Dollar Budget,” “Misogyny ABC’s,” and “What to Wear to Report Your Stalker to HR.”

In the second half of the collection, “Women in Line,” explores heteronormativity, objectification, and consumerism. The consistent use of hypersexual language may feel like an example of reclaiming speech to some readers—two female authors using the same vulgar language that plays a role in perpetuating systemic sexism may serve as a protest against discrimination. This begins to be articulated in the line, “But women in line don’t speak. We look away,” (DeColo, Mills 27). While readers can pause here to reflect on the times they stayed silent in the face of innappropriate or unwanted comments, the speakers go on to combat the passivity of not speaking and looking away by writing things like,

“before coddling their cocks in the lodges of their baggy jeans and sneering, Our heaven

is Hellenic as rape. I had pitied them because even now the heteronormative

dictatorship that lingers in my cochlea like ear buds pushed in too far with bad music

whispers: No girlfriends, lonely men,” (DeColo, Mills 27).

In combination, these lines capture and unleash feelings of rage and pity while acknowledging that the sentiments are often hard, or unsafe to express. This idea is further developed in the following poem, “Misogyny ABC’s,” in the lines, “Must. not. make. eye. contact. with./the. mail. man. lest. he. think./I. am. dying. for. a. fuck” (DeColo, Mills 31). All of the poems in the collection, but particularly “Women in Line” respond to the heteronormative dictatorship that enrages the speakers. Even in subtle phrases like “the desire to have a woman,” the ideas of ownership, objectification, instant gratification, and consumerism are clear while the poem’s setting of Dunkin’ Donuts serves as a synecdoche for American capitalism (DeColo, Mills 28). In the same way people can have fast food, there’s an underlying message about being entitled to have a woman just as easily as a donut. 

Low Budget Movie invites readers to be daring, engaged, and more aware of the pervasive sexism in American society through a film motif, showing readers how many characters women need to be able to play to be likable, desirable, and oftentimes, safe. DeColo and Mills intentionally blur authorial voice, so any use of the first person may also feel collective. So, when they invite readers to “Ask me how many women I’ve been,” perhaps the true invitation is to ask oneself (DeColo, Mills 29).

Low Budget Movie is available from Diode Editions.

A black and white photo of a woman, the author of this post.

Annie Fay Meitchik is a writer and visual artist with her BA in Creative Writing from The New School and a Certificate in Children’s Book Writing from UC San Diego. Through a career in publishing, Annie aims to amplify the voices of marginalized identities while advocating for equality and inclusivity in art/educational spaces. Her work has been published by Matter Press, 12th Street Literary Journal, and UNiDAYS. To learn more, please visit:

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