Davy Knittle

Queer Urban Poetics

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 Leslie Scalapino’s 'New Time' and the perceptual city

In the essay “Bodies-Cities,” Elizabeth Grosz argues that “[t]he city is one of the crucial factors in the social production of (sexed) corporeality: the built environment provides the context and coordinates for contemporary forms of body.”[1] There are a number of claims within this one: that corporeality is a social production, that the way corporeality is socially produced is inconsistent across bodies, and that what a body is must be bound up in what buildings are and how they use each other.

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

East Village in the 1970s. Photo Credit Ann Sanfedele

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 Simone White’s 'Of Being Dispersed': Violence / The Numerous / The Wake

One interlocutor of Simone White’s 2016 collection of poems, Of Being Dispersed, is the 1968 collection by Objectivist poet George Oppen, Of Being Numerous. Oppen’s titular long poem, which is the bulk of the collection, is concerned with the development of language to address the condition of living in the multitude. Section three of the poem begins: