Gail Scott and Christy Davids

PennSound Podcast #74


In this PennSound podcast, Christy Davids talks with Montréal writer Gail Scott about her recent release Permanent Revolution (Book*hug Press, 2021), a compilation of new and revised essays, including work that originally appeared in Scott’s foundational feminist text, Spaces Like Stairs (Women’s Press, 1996). The revolutionary character of richly polysemous, multiply path-winding texts is a recurrent thread in this conversation. As Scott puts it, “the question of legibility raises the question of community, for me.” The pair attends to vital orienting compositional concerns, including the deceptively simple one of how to navigate a sentence: what pressures act on that unit of expression, and how might it best be approached, activated, or navigated?

Davids and Scott also query the role of feminist theory, including that which it avows to do, as well as that which it actually does, and for whom. At the close of the interview, Scott reads an excerpt from “The Porous Text,” an earlier version of which originally appeared in Chain.

Christy Davids is a poet, teacher, and cocurator of the Philadelphia-based reading series Charmed Instruments. Some of her work can be found in VOLT, Open House, Bedfellows, Jacket2, Dusie, The Tiny, and the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet, among others. She is the author of three chapbooks: on heat (2017) was selected by the editors in BOAAT Press’s 2016 chapbook competition; Dysphoric Geography (2019) was published by Neighboring Systems; and wanton (2020) was published by DoubleCross Press.

Gail Scott lives and writes in French-inflected sentences in Montréal. Her book of essays Permanent (upside down) Revolution (2021) is a finalist for Le Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. Her fiction includes The Obituary, a ghost story with a fractalled narrator set in a Montréal triplex; My Paris (Dalkey Archive), about a sad diarist in conversation with Gertrude Stein and Walter Benjamin; Main Brides and Heroine (reissued in 2019 with an introduction by Eileen Myles); and Spare Parts + 2, a collection of stories and manifestos. The anthology Biting the Error, coedited with Bob Gluck, Camille Roy et al., was shortlisted for a Lambda award. Also a translator, her translation of Michael Delisle’s Le Déasarroi du matelot was shortlisted for the Governor General’s award in translation. Furniture Music, an essay/memoir set in Lower Manhattan during the early Obama years is forthcoming from WAVE. Scott taught creative writing at Université de Montréal until leaving to become a full-time writer in 2018. — Knar Gavin