'Atrocita,' 'Sphinxe,' and 'Your Own Double Entry'
Extremity is relative. The furthest thing from a given point, which is relative and changeable, cannot escape the tether of that stake. To some, within tradition, at the most surface level, any unusual gesture is severe. If one’s goal is to seek control over the uncontrollable, any submission to the unruly is a threatening gesture. If one has accepted that there is no control possible, only mediation, then only the fundamentally transgressive is extreme, because it touches on the opposite of life. All this begins within the human mind, not the poem, the strange secondary barrier of language that emerges, faulty and failing.
I came in late to poetry and without a clear orientation. I discovered many modes at once, had the naivety to hold them beside each other, and thought questions that occurred spontaneously to me to be obvious inquiries. The consequence of my own unpunctuality and gullibility is that, alongside what others might deem literary poetry, sound poetry, performance literature, and all the other ways of writing the poem, I felt it necessary to ask what is in the shape of a letter. What images do words recall? What is the meaning of color in poetry upon the page? And white space? The handmade? How does the situation of a poem change its meaning? Why is composition not a concept that applies to a medium that is innately visual? In poetry, why has content overwhelmed context? Why has product dominated process? There is nothing extreme about these questions; they are fundamental. But they have created poems of liquid and wood, ugliness, toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess. Water, ink, spit. And beneath the method lies the only thing that I might concede as extreme — that my work is about acknowledging in each banal mark on the page that these are useless impediments before what’s coming to each and every one of us and therefore quite pointless beyond time consumption, and yet I keep doing them anyway. Lots of them. That seems excessive.
All three of the works below are featured in my book Aletta Ocean’s Alphabet Empire (Hesterglock Press, 2018).
Your Own Double Entry