Wave Books, 2014
CAConrad’s new book arrived soon after my birthday. I carried it around with me one day while I got acupuncture, then stopped in a dance store to look at leotards and glittery recital outfits for my eternally unborn children. I went into the Church of the Incarnation on Madison Avenue for a moment of silence (get it where you can) on my way up to the Morgan Library, where I admired some sacred artifacts, including Sappho’s ripped-up rough drafts of love letters and the giant crystal into which everyone’s teen-crush Percy Bysshe Shelley screamed his poetry. Just kidding, he didn’t really do that. In ECODEVIANCE, a ritualistic poetry book-cum-grimoire and guide to various livings and dyings, CAConrad’s mic is comprised of “the bones of the earth”: crystals. Voices whisper, ring, and shout through(out) this book. Occasionally they fall silent but communication thrusts or whirs or tears through dimensions, through and from and around the vital body and the etheric body.
As the Rosicrucians said, the firmament is one immense placenta. If gynecological cosmogeny isn’t your thing, or you don’t “taste birth canal” or savor a vagina-nose or “green pussy,” “sounds like / your problem” (Conrad’s words). Sometimes the sermonizing becomes a little platitudinous, but bright are the sparks of brilliance in these wounded-healer exercises in rage, vigilance, and catharsis. It is lovely and cathartic to call someone a “stupid fuckup” when you really mean it and they really are that: indeed, “catharsis is a daughter / a son a caterwaul.” When CAConrad’s poetic language torques in another, less reflexive, direction it does so with a (bitter) sweetness and vulnerability that almost mitigates so much seething venom.
CAConrad’s poetry may seem exotic or bonkers to some, especially if you are carrying major karmic baggage and/or are slow to evolve, but it’s totally basic spiritual activism and maybe one reason he sometimes has to SCREAM is because it feels like no one is paying enough attention. He asks, “(h)ow else can I repeat this so you hear it?” If people were paying attention and honoring life as divine and beautiful instead of shooting babies with “adult-sized bullets” and desecrating the earth, then atrocity poetry wouldn’t need to exist. The John Muir of poetry residencies wouldn’t have to say “fuck you” all the time. Until then, the constant reverberations of collective and individual injury and suffering are openly registered in Conrad’s work to memorable effect. Dedicated to his friends, ECODEVIANCE is kept from imploding on itself by love, camaraderie, and determination—a time capsule for the future wilderness and anyone who’s being here now.
—Charity Coleman is a writer and poet and is the author of Julyiary: A Breviary, available from Semi-Circulation Press (2014). She lives in New York City.