Yunes were human once. / They nursed babies and baked bread and made love beneath the shade of the willow tree. / Then they were drowned in the bog on the edge of town. / The marshlands kept them flawless. / Their skin tanned tight as a drum skin, sealing their spirits inside like caged dogs.
I first encountered Sesshu Foster through his cotranslation of Juan Felipe Herrera’s masterpiece Akrilica and an anthology he coedited, Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry. It was 1990: I’d just returned from six years of intense political and cultural involvement outside the US. The Gulf War was right on the horizon, and in the hyper-stratified world of US poetry, where class and cosmos had taken backseats to an almost purely theoretical politics and poetics, I was in search of allies and kindred spirits. With Foster’s work, I felt I’d struck pay dirt.
Let’s begin with death. “Let’s say that in the course of all human experience, death is pure conjecture: it is, as such, not an experience. And all that which is not an experience is useless to mankind.” The speaker here is Ledesma, one of a cadre of lovelorn, thoroughly chauvinistic doctors up to no good at a sanatorium just outside Buenos Aires.
for a fee I guess / my sovereign entity / muckrake / frowning sun and yet it is a storyteller
These poems are excerpted from Annelyse Gelman’s Heck Land: The Resorted Text, a lyrical reworking of the definitive edition of William S. Burroughs’s seminal anti-novel Naked Lunch: The Restored Text. There are twenty-five in all—one for each chapter of Naked Lunch—each a scalpeled, reappropriated cut-up tape-mounted to projector transparency, then photographed recto and verso, along with dust, fingerprints, squashed bugs, and other process artifacts.
Under a boat are a pod of Orcas, but before they are under a boat they are breaching some distance away from The White Boys in their small rowboat.
He came in search of clues for an article about the disappearances that happened months before he arrived.
The poet’s first novel, Eleanor, or, The Rejection of the Progress of Love, concerns a woman’s unnamed grief, as well as the meta-dialogue between the narrative’s author and the critic reading her manuscript.
The author discusses her forthcoming novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation, fiction as impetus for personal change, and the inhumanity of the creative class.
It’s possible that like John the Divine—aka John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation—Shiv Kotecha has been plunged into boiling oil and suffered nothing from it, his audience converted into sweet lambs upon witnessing the miracle, and the prophet-poet cast forever unto the brightness of exile.
Capaurisces (pronounced “kuh-pour-i-ces”)—a combination of a far-flung galaxy made of “99.99 percent dark matter” and an artist colony in New Hampshire—is the unlikely setting for Daaimah Mubashshir’s The Immeasurable Want of Light, a collection of short plays recently published in book form as part of the playwright’s ongoing project Everyday Afroplay. Beginning in 2016, Mubashshir developed a daily writing practice in response to Chris Ofili’s Afro Muses painting series, offering a sustained meditation on Blackness and the Black body.
The second issue of Canadian cartoonist Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte begins with a four-panel strip called “Month of December.” We see the author standing on the edge of a highway overpass, looking down. She remarks “Christmas is coming… / Snif, it’s cold.…” She hurls herself off the ramp, yelling “And I’m gonna die!!!?”
On translating avant garde and genderless literature.
We lived in the constrictive belt of bible-thumpers, but I always wanted my life to unfurl like a beach read, the kind of life that conjures a certain ephemeral pleasure, baked between sand and sun, crashing waves far enough away so their fatal danger only registers as ambiance.
Dr. Nelson wanted me to feel something. In the palm of his hand was a pale yellow mound of powder.
The novelist on the enduring AIDS crisis, the resonance of the Lost Generation, and writing her way around questions.
“Most definitions of style pare away its contradictions in order to make self-consistent arguments. I wanted to own up to style’s inconvenient range of meanings, to try to explain that range rather than resolve it.”
The poet on creating a language that explores transness, history, and the pastoral.
An eerily at peace coterie.
The novelist on the precarious lives of artists, the oversimplification of trauma narratives, and the importance of building queer, chosen families.