queer poetics

New writing through the Anthropocene

PennSound podcast #63: Allison Cobb and Brian Teare with Julia Bloch, Knar Gavin, and Aylin Malcolm

Book covers for Brian Teare's Doomstead Days and Allison Cobb's Green-Wood.

Allison Cobb and Brian Teare joined Julia Bloch, Knar Gavin, and Aylin Malcolm in the Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House on April 2, 2019, following their lunchtime discussion with scholars and poets from Penn’s Poetry and Poetics and  Anthropocene and Animal Studies reading groups. Our discussion ranged from human embeddedness in the nonhuman world to the relationship between poetic duration and historiography to the role of affect in poetry that seeks to reckon with the ever intensifying ecodisasters of our time.

Symptoms and sources

A review of Lauren Levin's 'Justice Piece // Transmission'

Lauren Levin’s second book, Justice Piece // Transmission, is comprised of two essayistic poems that continually untangle and reconstruct the web of contradictions that shape the speaker’s ever-complex, and always self-questioning, inner narrative. 

Lauren Levin’s second book, Justice Piece // Transmission, is comprised of two essayistic poems that continually untangle and reconstruct the web of contradictions that shape the speaker’s ever-complex, and always self-questioning, inner narrative. In both pieces, Levin traces anxiety back and forth from its source: the social, material fabric that challenges any “total” understanding of what it means to be a person — a queer person — and a queer gender-fluid person — in the world right now.

Bodies-cities part 2: James Schuyler's somatic urbanism

Clark Park, December 2017. Photo by the author.

I began this project a year ago to ask some questions about how queer spatial studies and city planning history each model cities and urban life, and how experimental poems further bring these models into conversation with one another. This set of essays is meant to be a beginning, the sort of beginning that, as Susan Landers writes, “is a place or a site.”[1] To the extent that the intervention of this project is in queer studies, it posits that part of what’s queer about queer theory now is its material urban context, and its need to contend with the affective and structural conditions of cities and their tranformation.

I began this project a year ago to ask some questions about how queer spatial studies and city planning history each model cities and urban life, and how experimental poems further bring these models into conversation with one another.

On Eileen Myles’s 'Hot Night': queer / urban / image

In the introduction to Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, José Esteban Muñoz addresses the caretaking relationship between Eileen Myles and James Schuyler as one of anti-antirelational queer kinship.

On Elizabeth Willis's 'Address': (queer) space and the chrononormative

Writing puts texts in space. The procedural language of critical synthesis is inherently spatial. Thinking about connections between texts, or the bringing of texts together in an essay, simulates the positioning of objects in space. Often, writing makes texts architectural — it uses them to build, and uses the metaphorics of building. I want to use this essay to write between Elizabeth Freeman’s Time Binds and Doreen Massey’s Space, Place and Gender, texts seminal to queer temporality and to feminist geography, respectively.

On Erica Hunt’s 'Arcade': control / temporality / the past in the present

Erica Hunt reading the Frank O'Hara poem "Music" at The Poetry Project's Fiftieth Anniversary celebration of 'Lunch Poems.'

In Arcade, poet Erica Hunt’s 1996 collection and collaboration with the artist Alison Saar, the speaker describes herself as moving, through her stuckness and frustration, “against bureaucratic seizures of the possible.”[1] The collection articulates a poetics of refusal, sometimes from a woman-identified subject position, sometimes as a woman of color, or as a mother of color. In other moments, as in the book’s title poem, the speaker’s identity is undisclosed.

On Rachel Levitsky's 'Neighbor': scale / urban systems / representation

Rachel Levitsky’s 2009 poetry collection, Neighbor, takes up the relationship between neighbors as it occurs between people in an apartment building who share walls and floors, but also as it affords other intimacies. Levitsky’s figure of the neighbor contains the idea of the neighbor (a person who lives near you, and whose proximity can produce a mutual, if fragmentary, knowledge of one another’s quotidian lives) alongside neighborliness at a range of competing and simultaneous scales. 

Rachel Levitsky’s 2009 poetry collection, Neighbor, takes up the relationship between neighbors as it occurs between people in an apartment building who share walls and floors, but also as it affords other intimacies. Levitsky’s figure of the neighbor contains the idea of the neighbor (a person who lives near you, and whose proximity can produce a mutual, if fragmentary, knowledge of one another’s quotidian lives) alongside neighborliness at a range of competing and simultaneous scales. In one poem called “Neighbor,” Levitsky writes,

Bodies-cities part 1: Queering geographic information

What are the normative units of urban space? For residents, among them are the neighborhood and the block, the street and the school catchment. For planners, they include the census tract and the district, the zip code and the precinct. In a recent article in Area, “Crossing Over into Neighbourhoods of the Body: Urban Territories, Borders and Lesbian-Queer Bodies in New York City,” geographer Jen Jack Gieseking borrows Gloria Anzaldúa’s usage of “borders” and “crossing over” to push against the existing containers for sorting urban space and the bodies that use it. Gieseking writes: “‘Crossing over’ then queers the geographic imagination of cities; when queered, urban territories ebb and flow and are not fixed to boundaries defined by the elite and/or propertied” (Gieseking 263).

Tania De Rozario: On the monstrous feminine

Henry Fuseli The Three Witches 1783
Henry Fuseli The Three Witches 1783

Tania De Rozario is an artist, writer and curator interested in issues of gender and sexuality, representations of women in Horror, and art as activism. Her practice hovers on the intersections between text and image, and her work has been showcased in London, Spain, Amsterdam, Singapore, New York and San Francisco. Tania is the author of Tender Delirium (Math Paper Press | 2013), which was shortlisted for the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize, the winner of the 2011 NAC-SPH Golden Point Award for English Poetry, and recipient of the NAC Arts Creation Fund for her literary memoir, And The Walls Come Crumbling Down.

 "Does one named woman communicating with another named woman still count as a positive on the Bechdel test if one woman is not actually human?" - Tania De Rozario

'The succession of syndromes'

A review of erica kaufman's 'INSTANT CLASSIC'

In the beginning, I could not face INSTANT CLASSIC directly. Too bright, I could only handle it in bits, my gaze slightly averted. From this peripheral place, kaufman’s book followed me. I carried it with me on the subway, slept with it beside the bed. I gathered what felt like relevant books and films around me. Talismanic. I kept INSTANT CLASSIC, and kaufman, in mind. And then, I could not look away.

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