Enter the Ultra-Glam

Šari Dale’s Para-Social Butterfly

By Emma Telaro

A review of Para-Social Butterfly by Šari Dale

Published on July 4, 2022

Para-Social Butterfly
Šari Dale

Metatron Press

B[/dropcapeneath its cute purple packaging, this collection packs some punch. In her first book, Šari Dale is entertaining and ironic, premising her story on the imaginary “Ultra-Glam.” Bored with her life, Bambi Woods plugs into this virtual reality of glamour, celebrities, and advertisements to achieve influencer status. A disclaimer positions the book as a “film” in which similarities between persons real or fictive is “purely coincidental,” though “true” and “deliberate.” From the beginning, then, the dichotomy between fact and fiction is dangerously thin, as Dale satirizes our screen-obsessed digital age, and the dangerous misogyny intrinsic to living in the Ultra-Glam.

Dale’s poems are more visually compelling than lyrical per se. That said, their social media aesthetic is precisely the point. The book itself is Instagrammable: Dale creates found poems out of horrible pop songs, celebrity Instagram comments, large type, emojis, ads, and hashtags. Deliberate empty repetition and cute aesthetic form barely conceal a violent undercurrent, as a disturbing made-up stint on the Ellen DeGeneres show goes terribly wrong (“You’re a hot commodity”). Provocative and playful, the book is aware of its status as a consumer object, and cheekily confronts the reader with our own complicity in mass media commodification. Dale thus reflects on our willingness to live two-dimensionally through screens, while gesturing at the desperation, vacuity, and potential mental health ravages that comes of this.

What makes someone turn to the Ultra-Glam? Why is the Ultra-Glam so attractive? And if we love it, why does it feel so bad? Para-Social Butterfly is as catchy as a pop song (you might hate yourself for liking it). In it, Dale constructs an illusory experience of virtual interactions that increasingly reveal themselves to be desperate attempts at intimacy and human connection, but which ultimately result in disillusionment: “but it looked so fun in the photos?!”mRb

Emma Telaro is a writer and reader living in Montreal. She is the Associate Director of AELAQ.



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