j/j hastain’s Interview With Carolyn Zaikowski


j/j: Do you feel that there is benefit in working with apparitions and/or ghosts in your pages? If so, how do they benefit? If no, please fill me in on the narrative of what the “dead dream” in your new and exciting book: A Child is Being Killed.

CZ: Ghosts to me are secular and I believe in them. They’re psychological shadows, dead events and people who literally stay. The stayed energy of things past, a person who died or left whose energy is still imprinted in your nervous system, a trauma or tragedy you haven’t been able to “integrate” into what you conceive of as your current living reality/story, so it comes up repetitively in memories, dreams, art, conversations. Ghosts are presenting themselves to be understood and witnessed. I find it useful in that sense to work with ghosts in narrative. To see where they might fit, to make room and try to bring them out of shadows, so we don’t have to feel the torture and confusion of their semi-existence. Perhaps all a ghost needs is to be gently touched or held, or given a lamp of its own.  Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Hugh Behm-Steinberg and Mary Behm-Steinberg’s The Opposite of Work (Jackleg Press, 2013)

17443853A review in two.

It is not really diptych (not the result of hinged oppositions) when a conductor conducts in two-two time. The baton swings back and forth but not between two of anything: instead it swivels in an ongoing overlap. For this reason the back and forth of a baton (when in two-two) is more like conducting the candors of a smear. Please excuse (enjoy) an inherent back and forth shape as you move through my engagement with this marvelously pleasure-filled book.

A child (“beautiful[ly] unbearable body”) emerges from the curled spinal column of an ancient reptile which itself is protruding from the green of an old growth tree. Is green always mythological? A compendium of chlorophyll-like ducts keeps us in myth. “What was unknown/ becomes patterned” as the pages flip. Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Kristen Stone’s Domestication Handbook (Rogue Factorial, 2012)


Domestication is defined as the process (either unconscious or methodical) by which certain groups of animals are altered (due to control over them for many generations) at the genetic level in order to amplify aspects of their traits that appeal to humans. For anyone who has an impassioned relationship to wildness, who longs to cut the bars of the aviary in the middle of the day while everyone is watching or who imagines running a Mack Truck into Chic -fill-A (can you believe how homophobic they are?), the fact that Kristen Stone’s Domestication Handbook is not obviously demonizing domestication (admitting at one point in the book that it loves the suburbs, feels things for them) as much as it is admitting itself as domesticated, as captive animal (“domestication is the conversion of wild things into things that sleep in the bed”), is quite fascinating. With the bloody clot-like meat chunks on its cover, and the title relating to domestication I have to admit that what I expected from Stone’s book (a version of: “Look here, I am pissed that I have been domesticated” or “fuck you for domesticating me”) and what I got (a version of: “This is what it feels like to be me and the me I am has been domesticated”) were two different things. There is no denial in this book. Still, if this was not going to be an activist statement urging its readers to advocate for unconditional mammal ferality, what would it be? Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Kari Larsen’s The Black Telephone (Unthinkable Creatures, 2012)


When I was young I played telephone too! The game is fun but also an enigma in regard to how the thing you started off saying in someone’s small yet eager ear is never what the person and the end of the line ends up hearing (if the channel between you and them is filled with the whispers of more than one other participant). In Larsen’s The Black Telephone there are many participants (some of which are): Anne Carson (“This terrible thing we’re witnessing now is / Not unique you know it happened before”), Laura Albert/ JT Leroy (“He was turned on sexually by the perversity and the abuse in the stories. So he started to turn our relationship into a sexual relationship”), Dori Laub (“The fear that fate will strike again is crucial to the memory of trauma”), Sylvia Plath (“The black telephone’s off at the root”) and the speaker (in this chap-length essay) ranting to and about their best friend (“I cried over something and so she cried”).

This book is the effort to both keep and learn to tell a highly personal secret (as rape always is: “I could say he raped me, and he raped me several times, but I do not care and what does doing say?” / “I am never more locked in with another than when we share a secret” / “What does a secret do when it does not really say anything?”) in a collective or shared space, in a burning tunnel of fervent listeners and speakers (“finding words and testimony that speaks to my secrets”).

An obscure effort to tell combines with the act of telling while that effort is being enacted here (“There is a lot of shame in the ordeal of telling”). The difference between a collective and a random group exists in the intention. Larsen intends as she “divulge[s] insofar as to retread the ordeal that telling can be.” It is a joy to hear the fractures of content (“I made her think about a fear she had of her father cutting her up and hiding her in the walls” / “In order to talk about something I have ignored so thoroughly that I have put myself in danger of damaging my health” / “I wrung out a drawing that went through the washer and, true to my defeatist impulse, cried all over it”) that slip toward us as we read and attempt to synthesize the ethics of telling (“I wanted to blur a boundary by divulging sensitive information”). Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Liz Latty’s Split (Unthinkable Creatures, 2012)


Latty’s little sweet ‘Unthinkable Creature’ begins with a simultaneous dedication to “my mother” and “the missing.” We are brought into this story on a mysterious cusp. We can gather who “my mother” might be in relation to Latty but “the missing” could mean Latty’s missing of mother or it could mean Latty’s mother is now missing. There are options here (as far as a compass goes). These options are exciting as we move through the text.

Often, in adoption scenarios (I was just listening to one version of this last night on a talk show on the radio!) the mother figure is the one who eventually understands the need to ride in on a white horse, cape flapping in the breeze to offer recompense to the child that they left. Latty states: “I knew my mother must have been longing for forgiveness so I went to find her.” What an intimate and intuitive chivalry to be the child as the one who instigates! We get the feeling that Latty has long imagined (sitting on the edge of the bed) mother in different scenarios, with different faces, so it is brave for Latty to reach out to “mother” in any form that hopes for intimacy returned.

In Split, there are many indications of pain, of the gaps that remain even in the effort to create connections. Speaking of Latty’s own stomach as “weak in character” and “masochistic” we get a hint by page four that Latty’s allergy to “love and milk” will continue to position Latty (and us by extension and proximity) in pain and struggle. When they get close enough to be staring into each other “face to face” Latty sees that mother is “repulsed” by Latty; Latty sees that fact as literal confirmation that “she must be my mother.” Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Kate Durbin’s The Ravenous Audience (Black Goat/ Akashic Books, 2009)

Lately I have been obsessing over feminist reframes of historical events and fairy tales. Part of this obsession is rooted in a collaborative project I am currently working on (with Tod Thilleman) that reengages and readdresses Mary Magdalene and The Virgin Mary in a complex, single-book-gesture, but another part of this obsession has to do with the way that my dreams have been feeling to me lately: like intensive chronicles of entirely other realms wherein feminism is a strong, inborn state (no longer act as mechanism for alteration of the patriarchal faults of an existing realm). I am still unsure if in these dreams, I know such places as utopias.

When I found Kate Durbin’s The Ravenous Audience (hereafter in this review referred to as TRA) I felt compelled in the shape of my own obsession. TRA is an addicting, troubling, shocking tell (that I read as a very nice counterpart or companion to Kim Vodicka’s Aesthethesia Balderdash (Trembling Pillow, 2012)). TRA is a confessional-tell-all as much as it is an engagement with fairy tales.

Within TRA, I did not find the usual role reversals (that often accompany feminist fairy tales). There seemed to me to be vigilant interaction with the pungent and unsettling figures (from Jesus (“Jesus was made of felt”/ “how I longed to lift his discarded body off the floor, years ago—even reduced to felt, base material, how I craved his skin and wounds” / “Jesus is to satisfy, but he doesn’t”) to a new-to-menstruating girl’s own father-rapist (“in the barn’s orange blush she is bending to milk the cow when her father takes her from behind” / “he put his hand over her mouth.” / “when he came he squeezed her ass, leaving and imprint of his fingers. In those moments, she never cried out” / “dip your wick three times in the same chick and forget it” / “he knows only that single spurt of semen, his explosion, but it is she who carries his wreckage”[] “how great the opening the penis enters”). Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Kim Vodicka’s Aesthesia Balderdash (Trembling Pillow, 2012)

Chock-full like Joyelle Mcsweeney’s Percussion Grenade or Roxanne Carter’s How I Taught My Dress to Act, Vodicka’s Aesthesia Balderdash feels to me like punk rock feels to me: part crass (“a dove beat the shit out of me” / “the groin, the only poetic bone in one’s body” / “smell my rag” / “taught out hearts to finger themselves”), part gothic yell (“the Mohawks are all angels” / “applying mascara to the third eye” / “I was in love once, and I’ve experienced gender dysphoria ever since” / “you focus and fuck us both”). There are a couple of things to say about this. First, I like punk rock. Second, I really really like punk rock. As a rude girl moving around and through the bluffing and trivia of this Balderdash I am covered, cloaked (where once I was naked), protected even, by these heretical sounds (“would you fall from the sky just to lick my wombs?” / “dear sirs: there will be beloved, and there will be bemused” / “only when your wings are clipped in defeat will she let you sleep” / “like a flock of fucking myself I was invited to identify with”). I am being swallowed up in this self-proclaiming “gay heart.”

It is as if Vodicka is articulating pictures not as pictures alone, but as pictures jolting and ramming into other pictures (“the coffee pot menstruates” / “I don’t want to forget remembering you”), words replacing words (“the rain is expected to porn soon” / “clit back in moments of extreme duress” / “I can hear her screaming from the insides of a bird”). There is certainly traffic within AB, but I experience this traffic as a jammy, feminist one. Who would not want to be in that kind of strange traffic? Feels to me like a moist and yeasty recipe for a revelation! Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Lonely Christopher’s Crush Dream (Radioactive Moat, 2012)

Lonely Christopher states that his new book Crush Dream is the second installment in a trilogy of books titled The Death & Disaster Series. Maybe it is because Halloween is just around the corner, but as I moved through this fierce and sensuous little book I felt like I was finding my way through not only a house of mirrors (queers writing about queer bodies and queer desire always projects my own queer desire onto me; always reflects my own queer desire back to me) but a particularly qualitative house of mirrors.

There is death here (“narrative equals death” / “something evil happened in her skull” / “ashen dimensions”/ “will you love my body when you watch me die?” / “a dog is crying to death” / “everybody died in the white of your make-up” / “we are the same living as we are dying”), there is definitely disaster (“the exact sites of provincial freak accidents” / “little girls who toss themselves into the spring” / “she was bleeding on my futon” / “naked and nearly weeping with bizarre horny shame” / “repugnant in my grief”), there is also defiance (“talked out of defiance for a swan” / “the plump and sallow trick held between my legs” / “petty histories” / “ a boy in an off-the-rack suit waist deep in a lurid pond hands in his pockets and staring at a swan”), danger (“I am severally dangerous” / “searching inside the boy for my own grief” / “crass and submissive” / “a friend tattooed in her own remorse” / “what would you tell me if we were in the room alone together, what would you save from your burning house” / “the dynamics of a whipped shadow”), desire (“I can still taste you therefore you still are real” / “the sex at the bottom of my heart” / “if you have me till I smile then I will be your “faggot”” /  “god is masturbating to his high school yearbook” / “I used to buy cigarettes [] before getting a guy over here to fuck on a swan” / “I just want a dick in me I suppose, or the other way around” / “the only thing I’ve eaten in the last two days is a boy’s ass” / “your ingress in the lick of our intolerant hour”), and even some destitute-narrative (“something I know that I will carry but fear that I will never learn how to say” /  “what is hardly translatable not even to myself in poetry” / “there are only the things you invest in my genius” /  “unless we put our souls to the floor of the hauteur of the heart of god herself” / “I sit sullenly in the armory listening to my lover’s hair” / “till and ending or till you” /  “I’m the whore and the holy one” / “I am the star of my own truncated privacy”).

Sweet house of d-minor mirrors!

I intuit that Crush Dream (“a minion of [LC’s] definition”) is not so much a place where light is opposed to dark (or even where light is stated as a relief of dark states), but where dark darns dark (“you are somehow famous inside of the darkness of your ordering”) into a loving zone which makes more and more dark visible (“love is encompassed in dark animals”).

Lonely Christopher’s Crush Dream at Radioactive Moat

Creative Engagement with Min Jung Oh’s Body in a hydrophilic Frame (Monkey Puzzle Press, 2012)



“This is my house. You may enter through any of the three doors.”


Part memoir, part miasma (in the Greek sense re the terms place in mythology) Min Jung Oh’s Body in a hydrophilic Frame is a stunning subject. This work stares into itself (as all good renovations of trauma should), subjecting us to its depths and its rapids (nothing vapid). We move through the animate tears of this non-subjugating subjectivity and in doing so, we are nourished by a non-dogmatic sacrament wherein we are turned into wetness “catalyz[ing] water’s mutations.”

There are three sections to this book: Breakdown, Memory and Water. As we move through these sections we are cautioned that we are entering a sacred space. This caution prompts us to treat the space in sacred ways, which actually places us (as readers) in poise. See me holding my legs above my head. See the sweat.

It is possible to drink another’s tears as a way to transition through them (“consider: In one of his books Bataille says that tears are the ultimate form of communication”/ “substitute tears for words”/ ”each tear transports bits of her to the sea”). In this book we are spoken to through a repetition of the phrase: “Dear reader” and this repetition, like the many droplets of wetness in a sea, touch us because they treat us in a personal manner. Min Jung Oh treats us as if we are already wet in her house, as if she were here, offering herself to herself in front of us as she moves in and out of our view because she is lovingly filling and offering us this goblet full of liquid.

Through drinking the contents of the cup offered us are we becoming moist parts of Oh’s own voice (splintering, becoming more of itself) ? As we are here with her, are we wetness on a molecular level? I hear this book being read as an underwater scream: declarative descant empowering self-emancipation.

In Body in a hydrophilic Frame, Oh references “the inner mother” (a few times) without explaining in detail what is meant by that phrase. In the phrase, I see a self-mechanism designed to reverse the adverse effects of trauma. But, to work oneself into betterment or relief by way of working the wet trauma itself–is that not a hysteric or maniacal movement (“he tells her to be real/ she lights a cigarette/ he wants to know/ what scratched a grid across her arms”/ “what dragged a skull of the dead half of her own typed soul through a field of rotting fruit”/ “her hair on fire/ she is departure over and over”)? “I am (not?) your newest monster” Oh proclaims. Am not. Definitely am.

 Body in a Hydrophilic Frame at Monkey Puzzle Press

Creative Engagement with Steve Dalachinsky’s Trust Fund Babies and Phenomena of Interference (Unlikely Books, 2011)

Dalachinsky’s Unlikely Books double-chap Trust Fund Babies/ Phenomena of Interference is inherently inclusive of. Ripe and rife with sudden appearances (like flashes of fluorescent light?), there are various textual typesets and textual sizes throughout. There are also symbols and spacing performances which feel to me like they are meant to jar the mind/body open—open and into.

In Trust Fund Babies there are multiple admittances, repeats of being a “Trust Fund Baby:” born into money that one does not have to work much for (“he covers himself in monotonous abundance”). There is also a strange syncopation throughout the work. It is as if, if being a Trust Fund Baby is the initial admittance, then the rest of the work of both chaps is the actualizing of work itself.

We are met with an appearance of Cezanne (the word and the figure as I understand it), then in that same book we are joined by Satie! These figures present themselves and sort-of inadvertently drive the narrative as we move through “puddles of melting snow, [] anarchy’s urgencies.” Riding “on a piece of sound,” we are shown political sense (“I know what white America thinks of other-colors America”/ “these are [] lips in your land”), longing and tug (“(un)gloved she puts roses in his closing palm”/ “a gesture of suicide more like the broken heart of a girl [] a sensitive cross-dressing novelist who thinks he’s a samurai”) and interesting bends in desire (“his sex long-knifed between his legs”/ “his wife eaten out by a convict”).

In Trust Fund Babies, in a very musical way (“music agitates the savage beast”) Dalachinsky is begging to speak to, to sing to, more than the moon. He takes us beyond the strictures of the moon as simply present when he takes us into Phenomena of Interference (“ego is a dynamic lamp which overshadows the moon. The moon is a transparency. A false light”).

Dalachinsky has stated in other works, that he seeks to alter the image (“when you are a tree you know nothing there is only the earth where you are”) rather than to simply describe it. There are many methods that I see being used in order to achieve this end. Here are two: the spoken word quality of the sound in the writing and a form of pressure being applied to certain narrative terms/words (“did I say color? [] did I say sound?”). I read this double-chap as a dusty place. Like a long outdated coffee shop floor. Here the “charnel angel” is rising within us. Within a place where wars and histories can soften due to their having extraneous data pumped into them.

Dalachinsky’s Trust Fund Babies/ Phenomena of Interference, Unlikely Books 2011

Creative Engagement with Hugh and Mary Behm-Steinberg’s Good Morning! (Dusie, 2012)

Dusie chaps are always exciting to receive. They come in spurts, sometimes swelling the mailbox, and then nothing is heard or seen of Dusies for quite some time. This morning Hugh and Mary’s book got here. As is always the case, I ripped open the package while drinking extremely spicy cardamom and chile infused chai tea. Good Morning! was the name of the book.  A title–but also a calling out to me. I saw when I held it in my hands, that the book was pretty short, so I sat there on the pavement under the strange shade of the cottonwood tree and read it, then and there. It ended up making me late for work, because though short in text, Good Morning! is an experiential wonder! Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Joyelle McSweeney’s Percussion Grenade (Fence, 2012)

Precision, procession, possession—Percussion          Grenade. Not only a boom but a particular-sounding boom. A percussion instrument is an instrument that must be sounded by way of it being scraped by a beater or a rattle. In the context of consideration of a grenade, initially I assume that McSweeney’s Percussion Grenade is the derivative of untuned percussion instruments—(instruments that produce notes without an identifiable pitch) because who would tune their grenade?

Then thinking a bit more specifically on Joyelle Mcsweeney’s body of writing (I think about her talking about the thematic/ philosophy of the Necropastoral (“where chromosomes kiss and divide”)–Mcsweeney also wrote a book that came out with Spork Press named Necropastoral http://sporkpress.com/Images/McSweeneyNecropastoral.jpg))) I am forced to reconsider the above stated. In fact, it just might be Joyelle Mcsweeney who would emphasize that the grenade itself must be tuned (“sound is a type of violence”) to the exact timbre for it to produce its most performative effects! Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Olivia Cronk’s Skinhorse (Action Books, 2012)

In Olivia Cronk’s new full length book Skinhorse, we are brought into a strange array of the animal, the grotesque. A horse’s skin is its largest organ, a complex organ at that. The skin has many layers of cells. These cells work together with nerves and blood vessels beneath it in order to make successful skin-to-major-organ connectivity. There are also many different bacteria and parasites that live in the skin, on the skin. These details about skin are important to include because just as the skin is a multi-purposed density with varying tenacities and ways of making healthful functionality, so, Cronk’s Skinhorse works on many levels and by way of many mechanisms (its competences) in order to present us with an array/ density of the animal.

Skinhorse has within it  (even on the level of basic presence) so many animals (I have not included all of them here): fox, dove, “bad-paw crocodile”, lemur, “albino deer”, rats, “wet robins”, mollusk, snails, gnat, boa, eel, owl dog, beast, worm, salmon, cougar, “naked squids”, “bowl of eaten doves,” lizard, “is there a worm in wound?,” phoenix. Is this text a mysterious pursuit of the totem animal (“crowds of telepaths”)? It is often instructed by shamans (re working with totem animals) that one follow a few general steps: work with silences, research, observe and reflect. Because I initially felt a barrage of animality when entering and moving through Cronk’s Skinhorse, I intentionally utilized some of the above suggested steps. While engaging those steps a few impressions came to me. Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Julian Talamantez Brolaski’s Advice for Lovers (City Lights, 2012)

“I am a love poet, and dedicate all my verses to Love, that god among goddesses, goddess among gods, that cavalcade of hearts”

The purpose of a cavalcade is participation more than display

“And if you can come suck my goodly cock”


(“Doesn’t know how to speak non-erotically”)—


Sensuous in dawn, daylight, dusk and night, Julian’s new book Advice for Lovers is a primrose-rich , self-indicating rite of passage that in order to progress, must pass well through itself. Itself, a between as it moves amidst statuses. From “how to leave your lover” to “fuck me harder” to “how to brag to your lover” to “how to transform an imaginary into an actual lover” to “what to do when your muse becomes your lover” the pieces in Julian’s confessional love-zone pack (yes, they are possibly packing hard (“a herm in the stars with a hook in xir hand” / “to hold a thorny thing tenderly”)) a drawing punch. Is a drawing punch an unforeseen poultice? In Advice for Lovers’ case, the answer is yes. Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Rodrigo Toscano’s Deck Of Deeds (Counterpath, 2012)

Whoa! Honestly, Rodrigo Toscano’s new book Deck Of Deeds feels to me like the “re-particulated image of his half-decapitated neck holding up a fully decomposed face working its way into my tense.” In other words, I feel made more pixelated and also more devastated by way of moving through it. I feel my mouth (mouth is a site of extreme emphasis in DOD) being altered. Turned sulfuric or turned toward_______.

Cathy Wagner comments that DOD is “an American-values flipbook, or a realism themepark that keeps bubble-nucleating  (“Lipids are known to spontaneously form bilayered vesicles in water”) itself in the tax loophole”—this is a very astute comment about the book (“The heart rate spiking, the extremities of her fingers and toes electrifie[d], the eyes popping wide open…nothing makes her feel more alive than having the phrase “Core American Values” toss her around, having “its way” with her, the whole of her being as a plaything for its mad desire”), although what I have to say about DOD is a bit more somatically oriented (“Frontal cranial orgasm” / “recombinatory excess”) and lyrically interested (“Who work for the emerging genre” / “A fucking real poetics, or not?”)… Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Arielle Guy’s Three Geogaophies: A Milkmaid’s Grimoire

Is the opening and closing of legs like “remembering the blink”?

Arielle Guy’s recently released book Three Geogaophies: A Milkmaid’s Grimoire is not only a spell book (as Grimoire implies) but a three part, ohm-ey source. If Geogaophy is an intentional misspelling of geography, then perhaps Geogaophy is not only a location-oriented, bent, derivative of the word geography but is also an ephemeral place which houses and exhibits shapes, shades and directions that are in contrast to a book’s usual?

When reading Guy’s TGAMG I am brought by feeling, toward two unusual concepts. The first, Newton’s three laws of motion and the second, the word triumvirate (as it relates to Hinduism- to the Gods of Creation, Preservation and Destruction (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva)).

Newton’s first of three laws of motion relays the fact that if an object is in a state of ‘uniform motion’ then it will remain in that state of motion unless ‘an external force is applied to it’ (“chemistry in the making”). Newton’s second law relates to the relationship between an object’s mass, its acceleration and the applied force (“we startle on key” / “hastens the door” / “cut it in to look like water”)—the ‘direction of the force vector the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.’ Newton’s third law states ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’ (“reverse skylines” / “gentle hem switching” / “pouring inward”). All three of these ‘laws’ are enacted in Arielle Guy’s “spooled difference” of “permanent atoms”—this spiraling book—this specifying Grimoire.

Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Jared Hayes’ The Dead Love: Hands and More Hands Together (Black Radish Books, 2012)

Jared Hayes’ new full length book The Dead Love: Hands and More Hands Together states itself as “an experiment in collage.” This “experiment” states that it is dedicated to and also somehow made of Paul Celan and Helene Cixous, Jack Spicer and Gertrude Stein and Ted Berrigan. In one of the blurbs describing the book Kent Johnson speaks of this work as “citational.” I am assuming that the of piece of Hayes’ dedication means that within it there are extracted or implanted pieces of Celan’s, Cixous’, Spicer’s, Stein’s and Berrigan’s own writings. That itself makes this book (from its inception) motley. Continue reading

A Proprioceptive Description (Naropa’s Violence and Community Symposium)

As proprioception does not come from a singular or specific organ within the body, but from a sort of strange collective (the nervous system), this account will be necessarily fragmented—parts pouring from parts:

There was a time when I lived alone in the desert amongst many versions of cacti. There were cacti there, and there was heat. Cacti exhibit numerous types of adaptations (for the purpose of their conserving water in hot conditions (because cacti are in a constant state of drought)). Because cacti have spines (as opposed to leaves, leaves which over time have become in some ways, extinct due to context and environment) they have a sort of evolved protection on/ as their forms. Areoles (which are what (on cacti) tubular flowers bloom from) relate directly to the spines on cacti. So, the bloom relates to the prick.

For me, to go from a contextual solitude (because we, as human beings, move at differing paces it sometimes makes collaboration of even a moment, difficult or strained—in other words, I often find myself alone in the work of writing) to a collaborated setting, is a profound, yet jerking motion; a torque.  Such a torque was a bit of what I felt when I knowingly (by my agency) went into public hypnosis during Melissa Buzzeo’s offering at Naropa’s Violence and Community Symposium 2012. Buzzeo’s offering stated itself as hypnosis inducing so that those who did not wish to undergo such hypnosis could choose out of it. As with the cacti, slowly evolving toward what it is that might protect them, hypnosis is not something I would ever turn away from. I need to become this, even if by tension. Continue reading

Interview Between j/j hastain and Danielle Vogel re Narrative and Nest (Lulu/Abecedarian Gallery 2012)


I am feeling very excited to be engaging with you re this little interview in support of and co-investigation (with you) re your new book Narrative and Nest (Pre-Natal Architectures & Narrative Rituals)


I wanted to conduct this interview after you spoke with me a bit prior to inviting me to the gallery where your “Nests” were being shown. When you spoke to me about how you feel the nests and “pre-natal architectures” you have been working with have been helping you move into your nexts (or so I call them) I thought you might have some useful insight to share re writing process and writing praxis.

Not only is Narrative and Nest a deeply thoughtful and (in my opinion) beneficial document about integration and self-shape consideration, about how we coil with and into ourselves. About how we can identify with our own congealing–I also feel that it is an admittance of sorts. The making of loamy ground. Yes, a thready bust or strange torso made of soil. Making soil. Always disintegrating and always materializing.

Having read the book multiple times I want to just say here that each sentence, fragment and curved phrase feels sculpted to me. Not sculpted as in, rigidity, but as in deeply felt. Followed through. The somatic experience of reading Narrative and Nest follows a strand-like quality that moves and moves, gently wafting and distilling as the shape of the book is made.

This book gave me an atrial fibrillation, seriously. Narrative and Nest affected Megan Burns as well: “I think of wombs. I put the book down on the seat next to the tub now. I look at those bare, naked vessels with their needy mouths and I think about wombs cut open to let babies out and then sewn back. I think about my body with its scars and how I say when I say I had a C-section, again, and again, and again, how I feel the need to justify it, how I feel somewhere what is that, like shame. But it makes no sense. The body does what it does, and the terrible love pulled out there, it’s complicated. The body eats and eats sorrow, it swallows love in days that flee from me. And then I put the book down because I can’t read anymore.”

(http://solidquarter.blogspot.com/2012/02/reading-danielle-vogels-narrative-nest.html) Continue reading

Creative Engagement with Maria Damon’s meshwards (Dusie, 2011)

meshwards. meshwards? Forward? Onward?           To mesh towards?

Maria Damon’s Dusie chap meshwards is a grouping of cross-stitch pieces with confessional statements regarding why they were made, below the images which appear in the book. As a reader, I was fascinated as I moved throughout the images and words attached. I will try to speak a bit in this engagement, to the ways that I see the language and the cross-stitch interacting, the quality that they make collaboratively when they are presented as a book.

One of the things that struck me in this sweet collection is the way that Damon speaks of inspiration inducing the pieces. I imagine that there would have to be jolt in the heart that would bring the body to that poise, the poise that stitches–that makes colorful symbols and statements out of what prior to the creation of the cross-stitches, was nothing. Feeling can do this, can’t it? Induce responses that last in some form. Are responses that last in some form, art?

Art or not, they certainly touch.

In one of the cross-stitch pieces in the beginning of the book Damon talks about the story that inspired it. “The story of a female bard, Mairi nighean Alisdair Ruaidh, who requested that after her death she be buried face down, so that her dirtfilled mouth would be stopped from uttering wickedness for eternity.” The stitchings show the following words: earth, art/face down, terror, torn. To me, this is a powerful place to have started the collection; thinking on silences and speakings of many kinds–thinking on the strange things that we know must be done in order for us to proceed well. For Mairi [] the need is to be buried face down. For Damon the need is to stitch these lyrical sequences into charged spaces that last, that remain. Continue reading