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Archive Day #1: Hannah Gamble, Lara Glenum, Troubling the Line, TC Tolbert, Futurepoem Fail, Jennifer Tamayo

The following is a something of a transcript of my browsing through the archives today. I was motivated to catch up on some of the work of people I ran into this spring and summer while traveling. And also to read for pleasure.

Why am I blogging & not tweeting this or writing a review? I’m trying to understand the shape of reading over time in one space. Not isolated bonmots but a running seismograph.  Hidden correspondence in and out. A more ecstatic, less purpose driven experience of language.

10:00 // Hannah Gamble’s Invitation to a Modest Breakfast.

I climbed up

on the bed to see you,

and the light from the ceiling

and the dresser lit your face

like an apple orchard on the day

a farmer’s horse

rose from the dead.

How is this for a simile – from “Light Excess”

Poems and art like to kill horses. Glad to see one coming back & a god who cares to.

Appreciate the fullness of tercets of title and first poem “Your Invitation….” Those seem to react & feel-think their way through. More room for surprise in those or they allow surprise to happen.

(10-13) A poem after Christopher Smart and two after Catullus—both very good. Not hard to see Mayer’s preference for the book.

Prose poem. 99% of the time if a poetry collection has a handful of prose poems, they should all be cut.  Need coffee. Early morning spleen.

Just sneezed loud and twice. Everyone in archive OK WITH THAT.

Poet of ordinary stuff. Blurb says “domestic mystic.” OK. Pay attention to these lines:

…If I disappoint [the Lord], it is only

because at night, I’m too tired. It is at night

that the Lord wants my courage,

and he brings his creations to my door

to test me. I send them away

with words, but often I fear

that they will send me away

and live in my house where it’s warmer,

since the human home is the envy

of creation. We use our homes to advertise

our blessings. Yet creation does not feel blessed

and someone told me that’s our fault.

from “We Have No Instincts, Only Legs To Run On.” Dealing w/conventional form of divinity—the old testament tester but the line about objects, their capacity to dismiss her is odd, intriguing. Note: need to read Confessions.

This is the movement

a poem makes: a trash bag

breaking and breaking

until a brilliant red pear

falls out, whole and un-

troubled” (18).

I like these lines quite a lot.  I like trash.

Like BMayer, a thread of classicism here, its equilibrium, of skipping the whole of modernism and not being bent out of shape about that. Though that is discounting the “conceptual projects” of BM. Admire the wisdom and feeling–the equilibrium in these poems. Want to read more

moving on for now.

10:28 // Lara Glenum’s Pop Corpse

I should say before I even read this I feel like I know what I’m going to get. Not a slight to Lara. It’s that over Hounds of No and Maximum Gaga she seems to be perfecting a wicked, rhythmically ankle-breaking voice.

O it’s a fairy tale rewrite. There’s a whole press devoted to this right?

& I feel won over here on page 7, which only reads:

SCENE: There is no land. Only floating islands of plastic garbage.

Recalling a creation myth—islands as dross tangling together. Spit. Wrecks. Cum.

“I am trying to speak in a different register

The register of candied decay”


“Ill-gendered & millenarian

My flesh accrues

& decomposes

I can die & die & die”

Lara uses “U” for you and “&” –mix of adolescent text speak, masculine laconism.

/      –         /   /      –   /    –

Sink yr seabunny fingers

— /  –     /       –       /      –     /      /

in2 my creamo dreamo seal meat

–          / –    –    /

Ensorcel yrself

/  /  –


–          /       –     /    –     /     –

in loaves of hottie blubber

That was fun. Cf. Springbreakers?

Deconstructs thru exaggeration psycho-sexual resonances of mermaid in cultural imagination, movement of mermaid to girl, violence (?). Emph on anatomy of the mermaid, the only hole of the mouth.

Whoa. Things got all Lettrism on pages 20 & 21. Rows of symbols.

They say when he jerks off

stars explode

& that he is opposed

to absolutely everything.

Little archive chuckle

Analysis of the spectacle in academic language slams into the scene. It’s self consciously clunky. Mermaids as vision machines installed to maintain the power structure of the sea: “A culturally-produced spectacle that naturalizes highly specific forms of desire and consumption. The abject recuperated in the service of reproductive capitalism” (37).

BLUBBER SOCKET: I hear his Bone Palace is massive & totes baller. Throws killa raves.

Just thought of Dan Mager’s Party Knife. Those overlap here of method but I’m not sure of message.

Prosthetic genitals, modular organic / reversible genitals vs.

XXX: But I want my own sex

It’s like we’re already in some fantastical, Technicolor afterlife, where there’s nothing left but drag. We’re post-gender, and that’s awesome. But we can’t fuck. And that sucks seahorse butt (48)

Interesting to see how far this “we” extends.

Cutting genitals into self cf. Adrian Parsons. (51)

My back hurts already in these goddamn archive chairs. Time to switch gears, take my mind off it.

11:06 // Troubling The Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics Ed. T.C. Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson. Saw this panel at AWP. TC was like a man on fire. Could tell this was his heart. Some fantastic readings there, too. Asked the archive to buy the anthology.

I’m picking the book up for the first time. Radical inclusivity is HEAVY.

537 pg brick. Skimming the ToC for some names old and dear and also newly familiar—CA Conrad, HR Hegnauer, John Wieners, Drew Krewer (hooray), Samuel Ace.

Feeling introduction by T.C., the pleasures and troubles of anthologizing. This one is particularly alert. Skimming though, really. I’d like to find a new poet here to put in my sky.

First poem “Cycle Undone” by Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, a warning: “Half-off. Up for grabs. The / Breast. Ass. Dick-cunt. Cunt-dick. Anything for viewing / pleasure. A topic to be analyzed and discussed, / dissected, gained tenure on. We are on both sides // of the knife “ (24-25)

We are not glamourous. We are overworked

and poor. We have no jobs.

Builds to global, revolutionary aspiration.

Hey Cheryl is calling.

12:25 // Troubling The Line Cont.

Talked to Cheryl, ate some trash, walked around to ease my back into my reading.

Aimee Herman’s poems let form do more of the talking.

Maybe my favorite title of the anth: “Prayer’s for My 17th Chromosome (#17)” by Amir Rabiyah.

Ari Banias:

who is ghost, is the translucent almost

who is flotilla, is footless

is died and come back, who is sheet

and oooo who is remembered

is ghost is flicking

Ariel Goldberg:

I have to delete pictures / to take more.

There’s some sort of book photoshoot going on at the rear of the archive. Oh yeah.

CA Conrad takes the language of commodified yoga like instruction and uses it for something that is actually radical (not relaxing / muscular flexibility / toning / centering / making you more you):

“Day seven was male, but days two through six were variations of our world. The aim of physical, political, and sociological outcomes were in constant flux days two through six. Margins were permitted to drop in meditation. Permission to drop margins is an exceptional space to offer yourself and others. The craniosacral therapy was straightening my spine, relaxing my muscles, and challenging my thoughts throughout the gender exploration. The craniosacral lifted my consciousness while in deliberate concentration on the sex of my body” (87)

Thought of Tim’s joke about the yoga instructor making adjustments, sticking finger in butt: “How’s that?”

Still not in love with the “poem” result of this Somatic but then again it has to be considered in whole. It does not have priority.

 “as a fungus—not plant or animal, but a species unto itself….There’s no Western equivalent, though some people might wish to categorize it as a prose poem or an essay. You mentioned some of its characteristics: a kind of randomness that is not really random, but a feeling of randomness; a pointed subjectivity that we don’t normally associate with the essay. The zuihitsu can also resemble other Western forms: lists, journals.”

–Kimiko Hahn / Ching-In Chen’s statement of poetics

where Mami Wata wasn’t reigning and

demonic darkness, as if by hypnosis, beckoned me.

I try to tell my foremothers that I am more mermaid now

than I ever thought I could be (115) –D’Lo

Poems of process, poetics in process.

Two quotes from Dawn Lundy Martin, whose syntax I am learning to trust, want more of—

What to disrobe, there, centrifugal logic, as in here is a slice of my finger. Tell me the circumstance of your cock extension. When we slip into imprecision, we lose control, windowless walls close in. Awareness of being in a female body is a tinge of regret.


She curdles in the kraal. Could lactate, only stopping when the being is full up. Penned in with foal, with fur. Dereliction impossible, yet the thing. The one absolution from the designed body. As if one could locate, here in the barnyard, a logic, a wonder, a stabbing toward datum, corpus.

/           o         /       –      /

flipped hair, smells like boy

/     –    –      /       /

messy and sex-locked

/       –     /    –       /      –

shake it, Nancy, shake it

& this is why I love Drew Krewer.

Let’s get this out of the way:

I’m gay.

I’m male.

I’m white.

I was genderqueer as a child and scrawny as hell.

My identity and body rarely factor into my writing process at a conscious level.

I’m tired of people assuming that I have some special relationship with my identity or my body just because I’m not straight.

I buy stuff just like everyone else.

from his “A Poetics of Resistance” (the rest is fantastic too, particularly his riff off of Perloff’s “Poetry on the Brink”

E.C. Crandall helping me understand seduction of Apocalypse, something I’ve been trying to think my way out of.

…Lately the billboards (like Lee

Edelman) swear there is no future, that the whole word

is coming to an end. Their apocalypse is very cheap-font

doomsday precious to me, familiar how much we all just want

life to matter, or to go away.

Shit I’m running out of time with this one. Need to start skimming faster, putting oar in less, which is too bad.

Micha Cárdenas coining “Transreal”? //


If(genderGiven !=genderDesired || birthPlace != destination)” (392)

Samuel Ace’s “February”:

I heard the horses wild caught   sedated and bled   their pee extracted with their good will    they lay exhausted but later revived      if they survived they remembered nothing but a few days of strange weakness (432)

& another fantastic first line of poetics: “I have to ask you more questions that I will answer.”

This is a great anthology, for, among other things to thinking about statements of poetics. These authors come at them full tilt.

1:26 PM // Two Futurepoem Titles: Crisis of Infinite Worlds by Dana Ward and Anarch by Frances Richard

Futurepoem books frustrate me in the best way. I keep coming back.

Archive staff getting them now. Looking at other Dana Ward titles. One: Jesus Christ I’d like a coke (2000). What am I getting into?

Still waiting. Maybe the librarian can’t read my shitty handwriting?

Just unpacked TC Tolbert’s territories of folding (2011) from its envelope. Beautifully made book, with 2, 2! Spiral bindings on either side, folding out in either direction. WIDE book, maybe 12” Wide 7” High?

                                                                                                Although I am ungentle and in between,

                                                                                                dear Ramona. Call me domicile.

Tar string and say that never will you

Garnish me. Choke lovey the open

Trickle of my mouth (9)

Gently bleeding poems.

The book unfolds to form various triptychs. Two then three pages present themselves to view.

tonight, let’s practice erosion.

it’s finally my turn as the win (31)

Somewhere between a love poem and an elegy.

both tired of the obvious and

invigorate arrive in us holyfield arrive

a girder we fashion from our teeth (8)


I believe too much in repetition (5)

I read the whole thing, happily waiting.

2:00 PM // Take 2: Two Futurepoem Titles: Crisis of Infinite Worlds by Dana Ward and Anarch by Frances Richard

Dammit. It hit me hard. I opened this up and my eyes just started sliding around. No traction. Will have to wrap up & save this for a later day.

2:01 PM // Red Missed Aches… Jennifer Tamayo (2011)

Was going to give up. Idly started flipping through this book. Saw an introductory essay, fled from it, landed on these lines: “you feel my discomfort & keep going” OK.

Glad I did.

Tamayo is tackling some heady stuff here. Taking documentary poetics, particular those involving family interviews, records considering the incestuousness at play or mediated by it in a bracing way. Wonder what happens if this is put next to Jill Magi’s Threads—. Both nimble and insistent. A pleasure-horror to read. Wish the day wasn’t getting so long. Might have to come back to this one.

“(Before, After)”

This is

a figuring & fingering

This is an utter     a fuck    a suture

This is the swan killed & quilled (29)

(31) Mother, I don’t see you. You work often. Though without papers it’s hard to find steady work. We are meeting new people who don’t speak in our Spanish. No me gusta esta espanol. But I am hardly hearing your voice anymore. When you get home from work you give me baths. You dry my hair with a towel & you lay the towel on the pillow. You turn on the TV & there are shows about seals & whales. These animals are nice for sleeping. I point to the screen & yell out foca foca foca! You tell me not to say that. That’s not a word for saying here. In a dream, I fall & I fall. I wake up at the bottom. You say these are dreams children have so I should not worry.


Mermaids are on today’s program:

The women are walking on the street & their cunts beneath all that fat & all that tit & if we go the beach. Maybe I wear a padded bra. A bra that will leak beach water & make me mermaid. I can be the most cute. I can eat the sand. (42)

It’s coming together: Glenum, Bhanum Kapil, Ariana Reines, Joyelle McSweeney name checked in the back. What a party. What a electrifying little spree of reading.

Filed under: Book Notes

About the Author

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Joe Hall is the author of five books of poetry, including Someone's Utopia (2018) and Fugue & Strike (forthcoming). His poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Postcolonial Studies, Peach Mag,, PEN America Blog, Poetry Northwest, Ethel Zine, Gulf Coast, Best Buds! Collective, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.

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