Sharing publications and some thinking on writing place to start 2022
The New Year has arrived and I’m happy to start by sharing two new poetry publications from journals that appeared recently, following on from other work I published in the autumn in The Offending Adam and SPAM Zine. But first, please accept my best wishes for 2022! May it be meaningful, complex, and vibrant!
Two new poetry publications
First up, Dream Pop Journal published two poems that I had been hoping to place for a few years (publishing can be slow!). One poem, “Preliminary Lines to Elon,” is something of a short rumination on techno-progress narratives, or rather the postures that make those discourses possible. The second, “Magic Show,” is both a litany and a satire, poking fun at various “poetics,” in particular ones I have tried out in my writing career. Both poems are somewhat playful, and I think that makes Dream Pop a great venue for them.
Second, and having just appeared a few days ago, are three poems in the winter issue of Unearthed, the literary journal of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). The poems — “August 7 (Vatra Dornei),” “October 27 Recall (Cronenbourg),” and “November 23 (Off Shawankgunk)” — come from an ongoing series dealing with place and lyric subjectivity, which makes it all the nicer to see them appear in a journal interested in “work that responds to the immediacy of place, and that occupies the changes inherent in speaking to, with, and for the environment.”
Brief notes on writing place — as of now
I haven’t always found it particularly easy or satisfying to write about place, not in a way that felt like something beyond dry description. I don’t think this is a problem with description itself, to be exact, but rather the feeling I get from descriptive writing that maintains a certain detachment from its supposed object. In this sense, the aboutness is part of my problem — a distant, cool, objective writing about one space or another tends to miss, for me, the situated qualities which make place. Incidentally, the situated quality, with its entanglements, — notions I’ve drawn loosely from Donna Haraway and her ideas on situated knowledges — of the place writing that excites me is often the same aspects that might be called subjective, frequently with a sneer as if it were impure, or dirty. Oh, that’s mere poetry.
In the place poems I’ve been working on, there is on the one hand the lived experiences, the vécus, of the people passing through or dwelling in the place of the writing, and a kind of subjective twitch, as the speaker flips between pronouns and positions. I’m not saying this to celebrate it, or explain the poems — as it is I’m not even sure of how well it works, most of the time. But I am trying to put down part of the thinking behind the practice, and how I am trying to approach place writing, now.
One benefit of writing in series, meaning across iterations, is that the approach naturally drifts between and beyond its different poles of attraction. I can’t say I fully recognize how the more recent pieces in the series work compared to earlier pieces. What I know is that I’m finding myself more involved in the contexts and environments evoked than had usually been the case when I attempted to write place earlier, and yet without falling into the kind of default narcissism of lyric enunciation that I find everywhere in my beginnings as a poet and writer. Entanglement without domination? This could be a thread to pull on later.
Postscript or preview: more poems forthcoming
I’ll end on a preview! I’ll have poems forthcoming later this year from Strukturriss and A) Glimpse) Of). Both are journals I admire deeply, and I’m looking forward to seeing these issues in the near future.