WHITENESS IS THE DESIRE TO FREE ONESELF FROM HISTORY

sunday nite i draw a blue bath with valerian and hops.   

i have a gift I want to make, I write SH last night: 

"i was thinking about how even though the academy is so thoroughly fucked and a fucker-of-the living and unliving-- there is work that some of us need to or choose to do through and on the academy. (the Joy James essay on being "relevant radical subjects" is key here. thank u for always sharing sharing with me.) 
so my question is: how do we nurture each other so we can do the work that needs to be done/ and that we want to do? (with full recognition that the work is neither limited to, nor "ends" here in the the academy?  how do we love each other as we work?
and--that lead me to: how do we makes spaces, help each other make spaces for our current and future daughters, aunties, nieces, childrens should they want to do work while at/through the university.  our babies will take up our work and continue with it/ here or elsewhere. i want to make a space for that doing and envisioning. i want to make a gift for them within each other." 

this is not about reforming the university; it's nonredeemable. this is/would be about holding space for those who are trying to do important work while in a fucked up space.  it would have to be done secretly so it wouldn't be absorbed by the very space we need protection from.

today, viewing the interview with Arthur Jafa and bell hooks, someone says that generosity is about taking our ideas, those we present to the world, seriously. this lands for me.  generosity is to take seriously the ideas we share with each other  by asking questions, say hmmmm, saying what about this? sometimes I will refuse to be generous. sometimes my generosity will be misinterpreted.

last quarter, when my white prof said the n-word in class to explain 'excitable speech' and i said stop, was this a type of generosity? it didn't feel that way.  

then bell hooks says that, "all the images are corrupt."

i think about what it means to identify myself as latinx in a U.S. context. how I deploy it. how it works. what it means that I am white in Colombia, even tho I am called "negrita" by some of my family. and how this dynamic possibly distracts me. disorients me. how do I operate as "junior partner" to whiteness by continuing to try to recuperate it in subtle ways. 

Jafa, in the interview, makes a comment about how the gaze of the camera is always white because it is tied to surveillance. for example, in my first day of video class, we are presented a video of a well established white artist. then, we are presented a video of a well established white artist. then, we are presented a video of a well-established non-black POC artist who features images of naked black bodies in a context  of whiteness. who features an indigenous musician singing while inter-spliced/interrupted with an english-language t.v. commercial.  this is where the training begins. 

Christina Sharpe asks "what's on your retina?" in this interview, specifically asking if the slave ship is on your retina.

 how does latinidad un-disturb my retina. how does queerness un-disturb my retina.  

the well-know video artist asks something like: 'what happens when we free these texts from history'. or, how do we keep the retina clean?

IMG_6186 (1).JPG

lately, no poems. the first line appears and then melts. my heart doesn't beat to it. i know it's  there because i breath but i can't hear it.

yesterday, SZ asked us "what does it mean to think critically?" we go slowly, i say. we linger. we ask questions of those much older than us and much younger than us. SZ rephrases this to "we seek guidance."  

call for guidance: there's this thing I want to re-train myself in: when a white person in the (class)room does something "good," i find myself saying thank you to them later in ways that I don't intend. it just comes out of me, the gratitude. what am I contributing to in this interaction that always makes me feel shitty inside. is it fear that makes me say thank you. what is really on my retina, here.

i wrote this last year:

  1. INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DEFACE A BOOK
  2. Start at the beginning
  3. of your hate
  4. Remember the first time
  5. you asked something 
  6. and the look back at you was NO
  7. Example:
  8. you are 8 maybe 9
  9. the neighborboy spanks your behind while you are climbing a tree
  10. he thinks it's funny
  11. you laugh, your hands hugging the trunk, 
  12. but you tell him to stop
  13. he does it again and you threaten to tell on him
  14. he does it again
  15. you feel sick
  16. you run and tell his father who is on the other side of the apartment complex
  17. "No, my son wouldn't do that,"  he says to you. 
  18. No
  19. No
  20. No
  21. this is how you learn a shame. you learned a lesson.
  22. Start at the beginning
  23. & make room for the heartbreak
  24. that is not your own, the one you can't see
  25. EXAMPLE: 

WHEN I WAS A COWARD AT THE POETRY PROJECT, W/ ANNOTATIONS

(a) SEE ANNOTATIONS BELOW. 

*performed  Wednesday, January 7th for "My Kind of Happening: Short Texts on the Future Nature of the Reading" (1)

 

WHAT IS A READING; IN THE DARK MIRROR

when i read, i’m trying

to over throw yr governments

i’m trying to overthrow

myself  I'm trying to throw myself

overboard

 

it’s not that at 31 I don’t know myself

it’s that I want to keep not knowing myself

in the reading I can not know myself

over and over again

 

WHEN I READ I'M TRYING TO OVER/THROW 

yr governments and throw you over with it

both of us tied and tangled by our ankles 

mirroring each other

the reading as dark mirror 

 

WHEN I READ I'M THE GATES OF HEAVEN & HELL

adjacent and unmarked (2)

(WHAT IS A READING: things change slowly)

humans are a major catastrophe

(WHAT IS A READING: what is an unnatural event)

(WHAT IS A READING chunk of antimatter 

from space creating a fire crater in the ground)

(outside my window the words FIGHT!) (3) 

(FIGHT!) 

(FIGHT!)

(outside my window as I write this (FIGHT!) for a reading the protesters shout FIGHT!)

(The protest is the best reading)

 

THE HEAVENS ARE NOT SERENE OR UNCHANGING

the heavens won’t warn us

about what the readings will be

even craters are erased by human activity

the heavens were supposed to be changeless

& record the evidence faithfully for future generations

(WHAT IS A READING: let there be fire on earth!)

(WHAT IS A READING: we want to forget ourselves!)

not even the markings on the moon will be remembered

WHAT IS A READING

 

A READING IS A SELF-CORRECTING PROCESS

is a process of telling a thing without touching the thing

nothing wants to inhabit us

in the cosmos there is refuge for change

if you wait long enough everything changes

i’ll be happy to see this place burn

WHAT IS A READING, Simone, hi:

 

Sorry about my late reply and to be dense about this but as I re-read your email about the event I'm having a hard time navigating the question(s) here. (4) I'm guessing it's because of the word "controversy."  What is 'the controversy'? Is there a controversy? (5) And how does this relate to ideas of "a reading"?  Perhaps a reading is a controversy in itself-- at least, the good ones. Maybe the question is: can readings, please, be a controversy. How do we get readings to be controversial-- because there’s lots to disagree upon. and one thing i’m having a hard time with is living with disagreement. living in disagreement with friends. with some of you here. (5.5)

Simone, prior to this email, my plan for this event was to talk about performativity--  and my understanding of the reading space as an opportunity to charge an environment, to create a a zone of 'safe* un-safety' (6) for myself as a writ-----  what is “safe-un-safety.” Oh I don’t know. that just sounded like what I do. what I would like to do. what I try to do when i get up here. because i want to terrify and surprise myself. Because I want to politicize myself more than anyone else. because i want to-- well, here: this is what it has looked like:

(JT PICK AN ITEM AND PERFORM SAFE UN SAFETY) (7)

 

THETOXICGRLYCLOWN

THETOXICGRLYCLOWN

so, yes, I work to create a zone of “safe-un-safety” for myself as a writer, for all of you, for the space itself--and indulge in the complications of that given the racial and gender dynamics inherent to my writing, my performances and the context of obliterating whiteness in many of the NYC poetry communities I often read to/with.  reading is the safest space for me to be... unsafe, given the literal unsafety of so many other spaces of which I'm a part. 

Simone, for the last year now, since I vowed to stop attending readings that didn't make space for people of color, I find myself doing this dumb thing you have probably done too. In fact I know you have (7). At my last reading: 32 people total, 6 people of color, 7 with me included. At the Claudia Rankine and Lisa Jarnot Poetry Project reading I counted 24 people of color in a crowd of what felt like a million (8). A million mostly white faces moved by poetry but moved to action? Moved to what beyond a reading? Moved to challenging political realities in addition to leaning in? But will you help me with this now: Raise your hands if you identify as a latina (9). Raise your hands if you identify as a person of color (10). Raise your hands if you feel like a major catastrophe. What beyond this mindless counting is the real work, I know (or don't know, really), but I do this numb counting thing to torture myself. to torture you too. readings are sometimes a type of torture we need to engage in. 

Simone, I want to catalog these tortured artifacts I’ve use in my readings, and how they have made my readings turn: on me and on the audience. Or, turned me on! Made object of me. Politicized me and my body in obnoxious ways that work for attention. Yes, I WANT ATTENTION. Yes, I WANT ATTENTION. Yes, I WANT ATTENTION. Yes, I WANT ATTENTION. A couple of years ago during the q&a at a reading a poet (11) suggested that I stop clowning around and just get to the poetry. What am I and my poetry hiding behind?  Why can't I just let the poetry speak for itself? And this to me-- this animation to critique, to respond, or to feel, is perhaps what a reading is. Animation not from me the reader but from you an audience. (12)

But this direction, Simone,  now feels underdeveloped and misguided in light of what seems to be an event to talk about... something else. What am I talking about Simone? What am I even doing up here?  Who am I? Who are you?  Is this a reading? Did I give a reading. I am in fact reading.

I realize I may be sounding naive  but it's in all sincerity. I also don't want to give a talk that is not in keeping with the rest because I don’t want to be an unnatural event. I don’t want to be a chunk of antimatter from space creating a fire crater. Does this make sense?


Thanks in advance for taking the time to walk me through this, Simone. 

(13)

(14) 

(15)

(16)

(17)

(18)

 

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

ANNOTATIONS & THINGS I WANTED TO SAY BUT DIDN'T BECUZ OF FEAR OF DOING IT BADLY

(a) I realize the last time I was in this space was for the "Enough is Enough" meeting held November 6th--this was a community gathering to share and discuss concerns about sexism, sexual harassment, abuse, intimidation and assault-- and a culture of permissibility many w-identified poets experience. The space, the Poetry Project, like much of the NYC-poetry landscape, feels different for me now. I feel smaller. & in many ways, Iike I don't belong. or, possibly worse, don't want to belong.  it's not lost on me that The Poetry Project was my first paid reading ever. MacGregor Card invited me to read the first year I moved to New York, shortly after [RED MISSED ACHES] was published. there were maybe 12 people in the audience. & reading there, receiving a check,  made me feel like, i made it!  lately, i've felt that by critiquing some of the practices in this and other spaces, spaces i do very much care for (for both emotional and material reasons), i've bitten the hands that have fed me and my work. and those whose work is vital to so many of us.  i consider that i'm doing this the bad way. in fact, i'm sure i'm doing this the bad way, because i don't know what i'm doing. 

(1) "Questions have arisen about the nature and intention of what we at The Poetry Project have circled around and made a place for nearly fifty years. There should always be questions. Answering a call for poetry, prose, performances or other unnameable forms of meditation, poets give and take on the questions WHAT IS A READING? What should it be? What is read there? And to whom? These are questions about space, place, text and community. Starting fresh for 2015."  from The Poetry Project website.

(2) Italics indicate injected notes from a failed piece of writing. 

(3) Dec. 6, 2014 

(4) Addendum to original call for work (sent to participants):  "Given what has transpired since November 6 – including rumor of a call for a boycott of Project events based on reports of harassment by a well-known writer associated with The Project – I think it’s important to revisit the purpose of this event and confirm the willingness of confirmed participants to go forward in what promises to be a charged environment...

 ...How can we use this public time and space most productively to address one another respectfully about not only the present controversy, but about the poetics that emerge from controversy? What about the poetics of the reading space itself? Is it meaningful to talk about this -- a poetics of the reading space?" 

(5) The alleged controversy is, I presume, Enough is Enough's public reporting "of harassment by a well-known writer associated with The Project." This writer is poet David Henderson, currently a mentor in the Project's Emerge Surface Be program. He is never named during any of the readings or my reading. I don't name him.  He isn't named in the emails. I feel nervous even writing his name here because there are so many additional names to name. But just because i don't know all the names does't mean i should keep silent about even one name.  I don't know David Henderson-- this is a problem. And yet I do know of the harassment accounts against him and how it feels like they've been forgotten--this is also a problem. but, what appears as a familiar institutional amnesia (and if not amnesia, then what is it...) is one of the main concerns for me.  

(5.5) There are people's faces I can't look at because of my confusion & because of my disappointment. & because of love too. this one is the hardest. 

(6) I have to codify "safe" "unsafety" here because women have been raped; have been drugged, sometimes many in the same evening (example: March 2014's Copula event hosted by Wendy's Subway); women have been the objects of rape jokes in lauded lit-mags, women's bodies have been animalized, heckled, and sexualized in poetry spaces (example: The Claudius App- issue 6, read it here) --  and there has been, in my opinion little  to no satisfactory action... not yet. And, this type of "unsafety" is not what I'm proposing or condoning. i say no to real unsafety.  

(7) See Simone White's essay "Flibbertigibbet in a White Room" HERE. 

(8) How does whiteness make itself obliterating in one's/my imagination? I realize this number is off-- there were more people of color at this reading who aren't as a visible as others-- and this nuance is important, a part of anti-racist work, in that it recognizes the ways in which white supremacy attempts to manipulate, reduce and simplify heritage by its own racist standards. 

(9) I count 3 hands.

(10) I count more hands than I expect. 

(11) Poet Ben Mirov @ Ben Fama's IRL Serires 

(12)  See Sianne Ngai's chapter on "Animatedness" in Ugly Feelings. 

(13) what will I say during the Q/A. what will come out of me so angry and dark and terrible? what will come of out me that is so tender and wanting forgiveness for how i will continue to fuck up?

(14) i sit next to Eric Conroe, curator of the former Copula reading series-- and there's a strangeness in my heart. What space am I in? 

(15) There's lipstick  on Eileen Myles's sweatshirt. 

(16) Ariel asks Krystal about "her rock"-- and whether she's coming out from under. I want to tell Krystal her I miss her and that her writing is important to me. this impulse feels paternalistic and gross. 

(17) an older, black woman audience member compares the re-appropriation of the word "lady" and Natalie's discussion of it in the complicated context of BLT (The Brooklyn Ladies Text-based salon, which she co-runs) with the n-word, I shake my head vigorously and want to say NO. NO. NO. but i don't because it doesn't matter what the fuck i think at this moment. now, i think about how my response is at the heart of  tensions i'm having about intersectionality. one of these words was used to systemically oppress individuals. one of these words is a word i don't and wouldn't want to use-- though i have in the past. and the other word has class and gender oppression at its roots. but where does this impulse to compare come from- even if comparison could be useful?  

(18) I DON'T ask Eileen about separating individuals from institutions-- and why this feels important to her or why she, as she did in her talk, highlights this as something she does. I DON'T call for a public discussion about this, like I want.  i'm afraid. later, I'll tell myself it wasn't the right time. and that it was right to not further "the controversy." but these are lies. i was a coward. I was nervous to say what I thought because I'm afraid of the fundamental divisions or realities these issues are illuminating for so many of us. this is terrible but not so terrible.  

Enough is Enough 11/6 Community Meeting Handout*

*This document was drafted by the Enough is Enough planning group. 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

A final version of this document will be made available online. The link will be shared in the Facebook invitation for this event, so please keep your notifications on or check back in.

OUR ASK:

By December 31, 2014, we ask that friends, allies, and NYC poetry stakeholders (editors, venue managers, magazine contributors, series curators, etc.) moved by tonight’s meeting or otherwise committed to change send us your immediate concrete steps towards making our spaces safer, more equitable, and more liberatory.

We are interested in the actions you plan to take as individuals but are particularly interested in changes on a systemic/organizational level that will have broad and long-lasting impact.

Please send your notes to: enoughisenoughpoets@gmail.com

QUESTIONS YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER:

  1. How do you plan to respond to the concerns/questions we have shared with you tonight? As an individual poet/writer? As a community stakeholder?

  2. How will you as a curator/editor/venue manager/writer respond to reports of assault, abuse, and harassment from members of the poetry community moving forward? How will you express support for and solidarity with survivors who have experienced harm?

  3. How will you define and support safe(r) spaces within the spaces/venues/magazines you manage? How will you make this information public?

  4. How can we, as an organizing body, support you in bringing your action steps to life?

WE HOPE THIS GATHERING INSPIRES YOU TO:

  • ASK MORE QUESTIONS.

  • HOLD MEETINGS amongst yourselves to further your thinking and continue building community around these issues.

  • REFLECT on how you listen and respond to allegations of abuse and harassment in the poetry community and whose voices you privilege.

  • MAKE A PLAN about how you will join or be an ally in our efforts.

  • WRITE about what you heard tonight and share information with others not present.

  • READ and educate yourself on these issues.

PRELIMINARY suggestions for making our spaces safer, more equitable, and more liberatory:

  • As curators, implement a standard for achieving a balance of genders and sexualities among your readers. This means making an effort to include female-identified, gay, lesbian, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming people, among others.

  • As curators, implement a standard for achieving racial diversity among your readers. At the same time, challenge yourselves to avoid tokenism. This may require you to broaden your literary and social horizons significantly.

  • As organizers, take responsibility for what happens at your events. This includes monitoring your drinks table, having non-alcoholic beverage options, and staying sober or appointing trusted people to stay sober and be vigilant. If someone seems extremely intoxicated, take care of them or find someone who can be trusted to take care of them and make sure they get home safe.

  • If you see someone at an event behaving in a way that compromises the safety or well-being of one or more people there, let them know that you're not okay with it by directly addressing that person’s behavior both with them and with event organizers. Keeping lines of communication open in this manner is one key tactic for intervening in a culture of permissibility. Another tactic is having an ally present when directly addressing an offender -- someone with you to bear witness to the exchange. This allows for mediation (if necessary), protection, and support, and could be useful in preventing future miscommunication (he said / she said).

  • If you hear of an incident of sexual assault in your space, address it publicly and in a timely fashion, expressing genuine concern and soliciting feedback about how to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Use all of the platforms on which you typically advertise your events and activities to spread information and seek suggestions from the community.

  • If you are in a position of hiring or promoting and you are made aware of wrongdoing (assault, harassment, discrimination, etc.), be prepared to take steps that could be publicly messy in order to make change. There are people who abuse positions of power, who still get invited to do readings, to teach, to publish, to mentor, who still have careers, because of a status quo silence or worse, fear or passivity. Are you willing to fire someone or otherwise refuse to bolster the career or legacy of an abuser? If not, consider whom and what you are protecting.

  • Consider your relationships with people who have been accused of sexual assault, abuse, and/or misogyny. Do you want to continue curating them into your series and allowing them into your spaces? If so, why? Whom might you be excluding by working with and supporting these individuals?

  • Consider your relationships with the people you organize events with. Are they committed to creating spaces that are safe(r), equitable, and liberatory? If not, why are you continuing to organize with them?

  • Consider your friendships. Have any of your friends been accused of assault, abuse, or misogyny? Have you spoken with them in depth about these accusations? Did their responses seem appropriate to you? Can you trust that they won’t commit similar acts in the future? If not, ask yourself why you are still invested in these relationships. Where is the line between friendship and apologism?

  • Consider doing the right thing. Consider saying something. Consider being true to yourself. Consider being true to others. Consider burning bridges. Consider the possibility that it doesn’t have to be this way forever.

THE PAIN OF YOU; THE PAIN OF ME; THE ECSTASY OF YOU; THE ECSTASY OF ME

*and the most revelatory moment is the realization that my anger has not only been distanced from me-- in that I'm drawn to the graceful interactions in moments in which grace is not appropriate-- but obscured from me. I can't tell anger from all the other things i'm feeling- from ennui, or distaste. or even pleasure. in ways, this is superb.the unfurling of my emotional life like an undefined territory which can remain unstable, undefined, totally private. totally mine. the safety of anger (per se anger) unchallenged by a border that  might contextualize it. Might orienteer it toward me or them or most painfully you, friends & lovers.

but right now my anger has no discernible topography in my life. i supposed i feel its ink in moments when an exasperated (white) woman argues that writing the (white) self is the only way to begin discussion-- extrapolating the experience of a person of color is just not useful in this space (because it's too distant? too alien? too...) not useful in this space not yet. We can't nor want to speak for others.  i suppose she means that the way to connection across difference begins through self-recognition and ultimately empathy . i agree. i agree. but I know where  this ends. we become so entangled in self that others seem like too much to tackle. how is it possible to hold ourselves and others in our hearts. what kind of body can absorb so much suffering and keep it simultaneously without dissolving. The pain of you the pain of me--the ecstasy of you the ecstasy of me. this seems like to much to ask for one human body. is it callous to admit that i wonder about the limits of empathy. i want to say this, i find this trust between us, this belief in the climax of empathy to be blind and dangerous.

A list of moments i should have been angry but instead felt something else;

1. the man at  the liquor store says i'm a dog, "dark and hairy"- in the moment, i feel nothing. then in a cab, i feel hurt.  Then I feel like laughing. then nothing again. 

2. the docent at the New Museum insist that my friend's book launch event is too full and the doors are officially closed but minutes later makes room for 6 white men from "The New Yorker" -- i feel indignant. i cry in the cab. i watch Moonstruck by myself and an episode of the new girl. then the daily show. then i feel nothing. 

3.  when a friend of a friend refers to bar as "you know, ghetto" and clearly means a bar with too many black people.  Sean says something. i say nothing and give him the shut up stare because i just don't want to hate another person. I feel drunk. Then I feel bored.

5.  when a poet on the internet XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX & i feel sad for the poet. i feel sad for feeling sad. when i should feel something else.

6. when XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX & I don't know what to feel 

7. when friends use the word "minorities"

8. when in a bout of depression XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and feel badly so badly.

9.when..XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and i laugh and agree and say, "Yes-I know. Isn't that great." when inside i feel like crying because i just can't speak about this with her. 

I  can't stay with the list like my 15 yo self  can't look at my her face and consider its flaws. it's fat. it's brown. XXXXXXXXXXXXX. thoughts I know are epic and historic. thoughts I don't entertain every moment of every day but I know are in me like a fantastic plague. the erotic wants me to consider  my body as a site of resistance and these thoughts as the poison that undermine the impulses that have made my friends strong, resilient, connected to each other. but I can't stay with the list feeling the delicacy between anger and hatred and empathy and then nothingness and total nothingness too intensely. those too feelings empathetic to each other. 

 

*read, without redactions, for Samantha Giles's Deadfalls & Snares book release party. 

"[BCZ] WE SEE IN EACH OTHER'S FACE, THE FACE WE NEVER STOPPED WANTING. BCZ WE SURVIVED & SURVIVAL BREEDS DESIRE 4 MORE SELF. A FACE WE NEVER STOPPED WANTING @ THE SAME TIME AS WE TRY 2 OBLITERATE IT"

a lil krugery 

a lil krugery 

i'm looking through old YOU DA drafts. this poem below didn't make it in the book. i don't know exactly why.  not fully formed thought on immigrant status (the remembering of the father) as a recurrent death. as in, when you keep all your documents and favorite sweaters in a secret go-bag under your bed cuz "there might be a fire" or something. 

***

YOU DA ONE REJECT
 xxv. There’s a fire. What do you take out of your house
xxvi. There is a fire 
xxvii. There is a fire
xxviii. This is the fire
xxix. This is the 
xxx. This is the
xxxi. This is the

I reject the body after the internet. It’s been almost a year since the big trip. I feel plural. I feel so fucking plural. forgetting, in Mourning Diary RB calls it a “passing ‘sickness’” – but that’s not what is happening here. Here, I’m insisting. Don’t you feel my insistence. 

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE WORRY FOR ME ON THE INTERNET- the shame network part 2

 for example, right now, i'm scrolling through the final final final interior of YOU DA ONE-- a book that makes me feel like i'm some alien luminary missiled  -- and cataloging all the moments that will bring me shame over the next few years.  when my list tops 17, i stop and go to the bathroom and try to cry. 

lately on g-chat i'll write this to a friend: this book is disgusting. i'm disgusted with myself. lol./i feel like this thing is something i'll regret.

then i write a few notes in an essay i'm writing called "SHOCK VALOR, a defense"

my face shame, my shame house, my shame mirror, my shame dress, my shame couch, etc. 

my face shame, my shame house, my shame mirror, my shame dress, my shame couch, etc. 

later on facebook, i find and re-read this from Dodie Bellamy in the Paris Review "Self-criticism comes in during gaps where I lose my focus, or sometimes when I’m up in front of a room giving a reading and I’m unexpectedly mortified, and there’s nothing else to do but to continue reading with an air of confidence while thinking, How could you write such sick fucking stuff?" 

then this from Etel Adnan in BOMB: " Writing is a very mysterious activity. When you write, you say things that would not have occurred to your mind otherwise."

people worry for me on the internet. * they worry about my writing. about my worrisome peformativity. tho, i worry about myself all the time. and why shouldn't we, the people living now, today, not worry for each other----

---------nevermind--- my real worry is that i'm doing this, writing, in the right way. and this right way is inevitably a little bit terrible, a little bit subject to glimpses or stretches of alienation during which all you think is who the fuck are you, everyone. all of us.

maybe writing is only for the dead. "the best thing about [writing]/is that it's over". in other words, right now, I want to create a permisibility in my own art that only death allows. which is why i suspect that this is probably true: "it's almost a fashion for women to be recognized late in life."  (Adnan, again, in BOMB.) like, she's almost dead. let her do what she wants. she's "survived." 

maybe "in shame" a glimpse of dead. the casual meet-cute with yourself. your disgusting self that maybe you wish to negate or erase. a reverse narcissus but not without its own glory or even joy.

 

 

 

 

*Elizabeth's thread warrants a deeper response than this. It has certainly been on my mind. With all of its complications, it's difficult to consider the hurt, discomfort, disappointment my work and performances create and my own ambivalence toward unsafe spaces.  More on this hopefully soon-- if i'm brave enough. 


WE, THE FUCKED

for S on our 7th Year

we, the fucked

you the fucked who rubbed basil to your cheeks to impress me

me the fucked who couldn't guess the herb blindfolded or not

we the fucked who ill & ill after drugs 

in the morning together watched Disney’s Beauty & the Beast 

tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme

two buckets for puke; a gunshot through your Honda Element

it was DC it was the Black Cat it was 2007

you the fucked who live in my gash, my heart

we the fucked who spill love puke love diarrhea love

me the fucked the night i threw you out

we the fucked prone to a violence

we the fucked who wipe clean the milk from the stage

love like everything else has an edge, an end

it was baton rouge it was the end of summer it was 2009

you the fucked prone to me

we the fucked who no longer write poetry out of love

but out of some kind of politics, we the fucked

we the fucked boiling on the earth

we the fucked refusing to be replaced

we the fucked who say i love you with a doubt

to speak doubt of love might be the only real love

we the fucked full of selfies

we the fucked unimagined, incapacitated by the language of love

is there another word for the way we feel now

if not, can there be

we the fucked who bleed at death camps together

like two pubed babes on lavish vacay 

you the fucked open to my dramatics like a canyon, a natural thing

me the fucked capable of love like in a david foster wallace short

we the fucked terrified of family life- what kind of hierarchy is that

we the fucked who smoke cigarettes on a window sill, talk of our students

like they are some urban pastoral for the saving

we the fucked, the so totally fucked

its was New York City, it was the eternal winter of our discontent,  it is 2014

we the fucked talk of art & summer

we the fucked up all night learning the lyrics to Super Bass

when he make it drip drip kiss him on the lip lip

we the fucked breaking our bones to be queer; the modern romance 

we the fucked --who are we to each other now, Sean

we the fucked who love out of desperation, also devotion

we the fucked who carry each other's failures like key chains

we the fucked who have caused hurt who have triggered hurt in each other

we the fucked brave to contend with eachother's fuckedness

who try to see it as gift 

badness is badness in the human

i love your badness, is that okay

life is hard and that's that

we the fucked who try because we are pathetic

privy to empathy; we the fucked are mapped as such

we the fucked who will be in the dirt soon who will soon forget

we the fucked tender to each other's tender

we the fucked plushy for the earth, for bodies

wobbly, weak, weary, unable

we the fucked with all our moisty openings

you the fucked ready for the sun's burning, me the fucked with eyes for stones

we the fucked arranged so properly 

we the fucked with all these lovely ventricles in our bodies

braided from the inside like a children's story

it’s already a memory-type

you the fucked with your limbs all & ready

me the fucked with all the wrong sets of eyes

me the fucked still full of romance; plz rip this from me

you the fucked what will you do with your goodness

we the fucked with the littlest human material to understand the ways in which we are indebted to each other

VIVIAN MAIER or LOOK AT ME or THE SHAME NETWORK

S got me the new Vivian Maier photobook. 

here are  few ---> ---> --->

i like these selfies. the ones in which the mirror is caught. & you are pricked-- a la Barthes-- back by Maier. the image is the one regarding us. the image is the one regarding itself.  the only thing outside the selfie is the self. &  you.

in VMs looping i find something of an existential pinch. her photos make reference to Maier in body. in the gunk of street. of a particular time. Maier pastured in the beauty parlor of the world.  i look at Vivian. I look at Vivian. I look at myself. I consider myself. I look at Sontag. I consider Sontag. I consider Monica considering herself. the mirror a reminder of the importance of superficiality in illuminating hidden structures.  i consider the opportunities that new technologies, [e.g. the camera for VM], can provide for rethinking defunct systems.  in this case, the selfie rethinks the system of the face. the system of the body as singular & possibly unstill, or, better, dead & undead-- in trans.  or the system of the gaze. maybe a little like this (XXX) in critiquing your dick pic with love. 

auto-photography makes possible what I want: the body pluraled. diversity & competition between selves. [to be clear,  it's not the real body i want...real bodies with their propensity for causing hurt and violence.] i want the pluralized image of the body. [TOOOO MANY HANDS, see: selfies @ AWP Seattle 2014]. the body siphoned through glass tubes, mirrors, tiny black boxes: the body blasted by light and recomposed. over and over again.  a loop of itself. a gratuitous restoration.   

in the selfie heaven might be real. the kind where you are not a god but god. not to act in the image of jesus but to be a jesus. in the selfie, i am both like the image and I am the image: the ecstasy of being multiple, contradictory. an ogled out whitman. 

most days, I want to look like a fuckable baby. i actively work to look like everyone else. like every other woman in the world.  i line my eyes and rouge my lips and cheeks to look simultaneously orgasmed and infantile. i feel shame. shame is part of my order. my desire exists inside of the ecosystem of subjugation of what Carina calls beauty. 

i felt the contour of this shame and this desire most explicitly during a recent ANTI-SURVEILLANCE FEMINIST POET HAIR & MAKEUP PARTY (see Stephanie Young) in New York-- in which feminist poets and artists were invited to decorate their hair and faces in anti-surveillance fashions. it was grand. i painted bullet holes on my cheeks. washed out my mouth in beige and gray. another woman lined the edge of her lips in black resembling ashes or dust.   it was disgusting. at one point, one woman asked, can we wear red lipstick? at another point, i asked if my wig made my face look fat. ugh. ugh. ugh. but mostly it was grand. 

 
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IM ALL ARMS IM ALL IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS IM ALL ARMS

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#top10/bottom10

BOTTOM 10

1. depression, again depression. & the return to my cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets cuz i gotta live. 

2. acting like an animal. a bad one; stealing good things from good people. 

3. when i let you down and we had to deal with the let down but you did it so gracefully because you are a kind human being who i love who loves me.

4. crying at The West after a birds LLC reading and too much champagne cuz i was full of love and full of fear and full of champagne and then i cried at Dan Magers for 45 minutes and he told me all about heartbreak and I meant to write him an email but didn't cuz i was embarrassed. 

5. living solo in BK in my dungeon. when you smoke in the tub alone and you say what do you want and you have no answer. and maybe you scream it a little and still nothing because desire was dead. 

6. when i stole a dog.

7.  deaths

8. July 18th- san francisco. losing. 

9.  all the Trailer Park in Chelsea moments of my pathetic life. when i got dragged out of the bar. i want to speak to the manager plz. 

10. to step into that sleep in Baton Rouge in October and feeling like to change my life was to accept a death. to write and find nothing in the writing. to hate writing. & having to be okay with a dying. sitting in a fear. touching all the books so i could live a little more. falling asleep afraid. being a coward. being a coward. 

TOP 10

1. MEGA GRILS BRUNCH. AA. ROOF TOP. SUMMER TIME SADNESS. finally, after two years, friends here in this newish place.

2.  YEEZUS on the train after three Manhattans; crying. 

3. DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD DANA WARD

4. living solo in bk in my castle. cuz loneliness is just a fucking thing that passes through a human body. i am just a bunch of holes.

5. thanksgiving cuz i was grateful really grateful for my two best friends. watching edward scissorshands. mistake deserts. 

6. my white jazz summer

7. POEMS ARE THE ONLY REAL BODIES. BLOOF.   cuz hurryet tubman cuz dd cuz e-pistols. <3  

8. carina called me a bitch.  

9.  all my time with Sean. cuz Sean. cuz light. cuz friendship. cuz failure is good next to someone who is okay watching you fail. 

10. listening to the ________________ right now. now. now. fuck you 2013. you didn't kill me. 

#tbt for mom/sometimes daughters are shit

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Madre, tienes 24 años y vives en un cuarto en la casa de tus padres en Puerto Rico.  Es un apartamento pequeño sobre una casa muy linda y muy grande. Casi nunca nos vemos. Entras y sales de mi vida como un ghost. A veces me llevas a los parques. Y hangiamos durante los fines de semana. Me cuentas acerca de un viaje de autobús en Colombia. Hombres que bloquean los pasillos. They pull tu ropa. & tus pantalones.  Encuentras una manera de bajarte. Nunca me dices porque nos fuimos de Colombia pero esto puede ser una de las razones. Activities on buses. Después, me cuentas a cerqua de vendedores gritando chancaca chancaca chancaca. Azúcar dura que ponemos en agüita caliente.  Colombia es un lugar duro, me dices a veces.

page 22 from [Red Missed Aches] (Switchback 2011)

 

*** 

*We discuss the poem in the kitchen while she attempts to dye-- really, bleach-- my hair from its jet black to a softer brown. If there are any traditions among the women in my family, DIY dye-jobs with old, baggy t-shirts and plastic grocery bags is one of them—and it seemed appropriate to have a seemingly innocuous task while we talk poetry—especially the poems from [Red Missed Aches] which in large part depict the complexities of a mother/daughter relationship-- and, so as to avoid the tip-toeing i tend to do here-- the complexities of our specific relationship--what it means to be a daughter to Nancy and, perhaps, a mother to Jennifer. Earlier my mom joked about responding to some of the more "abstract" (read: clitory?) poems but settled quickly on page 22—a Spanish language prose piece that supports one of the clearer narratives in the book: specifically,  (her) life as a teen in Colombia and our subsequent relationship when we emigrated to Puerto Rico. When I recognize the piece, a nervous shit-feeling starts in my stomach and I want to quit.

Because my mom insisted that I take notes and write her words verbatim, it’s only fitting that I write her response here, unedited.

“I take [this poem] very personally. I feel sad about the choices I made for not being present in your life. I own the fact that this poem is accurate. I was in and out of your life; though I believe that, when I was present, I expressed my feelings and my love the best I could. I know I’m not going to have a chance to do it all over again—and not having been so present in my daughter’s life reflects  how not present she is in my life now. In reality, I built you that way. I’m solely responsible for it. Having said that, in the chancaca part of the poem, it amazes me how a kid that young of an age can remember such things. At a very early age, you were paying attention. More than I thought. What I’m going to say next is sincere: I felt invaded. You were talking about an experience that was private—yes, this was the very reason I left Colombia but I didn’t want anyone to know about it. You write what you want and I support it 100% but those were painful memories I wanted to forget and it uncovered a little part of me. But I realize the poem was composed to reflect all those different feelings: horror, shame, sadness, love. It was well done.”

She is trying to comfort and protect me there at the end—thinking a discussion of  craft will make her poet-daughter feel better. I don't feel better. I shouldn't. She’s brought to light some of the exact anxieties I had as I wrote the book: I uncovered her. I invaded her privacy and exploited her trust. As I was writing this book, receiving feedback from peers, most of them thought she was dead, i.e. there's a way you can write about the living; this was not it. My scalp is burning a little and I feel like a large shit thing—perhaps because now she’s the one uncovering me a little—pulling back covers, forcing me confront ideas about myself and how I've chosen to lead my life as a writer. She’s reminding me that art has consequences, that art might actually mean** something and that being a part of it means being responsible for all of it.

*I wrote this piece for some poetry blog last Mother's Day-- it was never published but I'm thinking about it today. It's my mother's birthday. 

 ** see: meaning &vs. pleasure in art, future post.