The book’s title itself starts us off with just such a seen silence. The waters of. Of what? Of Babylon where we wept, remembering? Of Siloe, where we hold our tongues and meditate? The Housatonic that flows through her neighbor fields? Sea that washes all away? That of makes us see something, a place or word, just as so often the line will end, startling as a knock on the door. We hurry to open it to see who’s there.
[Reprinted from the original 2016 publication by Lunar Chandelier Collective]
Marcus Slease’s new book Play Yr Kardz Right (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017) collects poems written in the last several years, almost all of them featuring an unusual technique: pronunciation spelling. The particular variety he employs is called “eye dialect,” because it is meant to appeal to the eye rather than the ear. You can’t detect it from simply listening to the poems, for example at Slease’s book launch reading in Madrid last September.
When I first read Coolitude: An Anthology of the Indian Labor Diaspora, I was transformed. I accepted the trauma of my history as a dreamscape that shades my daily life. I accepted that the hauntings of colonization, dehumanization, and diabetes were part of this reckoning with my own history. What was it like for my own ancestors Latchman and Sant Ram Mahraj to leave their homes, beset by economic dependence on a colonial system? When they landed in Guyana in 1891 and 1885 what did they see? What colors were the ocean? What songs did they sing aboard the ship? What of all my women ancestors that are not recorded in familial lore — what did they survive? What survives in us because of all of these people’s strains and triumphs?
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.” 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.