computer scrabble game with the word 'conniver'

february 2021

reading diary

I Try Out A Sentence To See Whether I Believe by Alex Cuff

Yearning to see privilege, history, and their symptoms. “Privilege is rigid but its language like air.” Starting again with a new sentence; small stories accumulating, that may seem encapsulated, but are finally about the bleed between, the way dreams reverberate/are reverberation. Seeing that you are the thing(s) you fear.

Hope Is Weird by Nora Treatbaby

Disgusted, but not defeated—no, not at all. Treatbaby enables visions of the preposterousness of progress, of selves moving/moved through time, thrust far away from the present. How a thing made into an object is an object in the distance. Objects are much closer than they appear—we do not trust appearances! Life cannot be a promise for the future—a heaven! We must see that life is closer. Because we’re putting life off till later, and its shredding the possibility of now.

The Motion of Light in Water by Samuel R. Delany

Chip-and-Marilyn’s relationships with Bob and Sonny stand out to me most, as much for their beginnings as the weeks or months that followed, respectively. Each was picked up “off the street,” brought in when they had nowhere else to go. It’s easy to contrast the landscape of the ’60s to that of the present—bringing a derelict person into your home almost seems impossible now—but there was also a capacity in these two particular people to be interested, to be open to making space for what now reads as incongruencies that could be at times offensive, at other times downright frightening: Sonny’s detailing of past murders and rapes; Bob’s liberal use of n***** in directly referring to Chip. But both Marilyn and Chip are there, to a degree, withholding judgement and willing to experience these people for whom others would feel a direct sense of confrontation or of fear. I felt both. The book is, of course, from Delany’s perspective, but I sensed his own desire... not to be understood, necessarily, but to be given space to be, helped enable these unlikely relationships to unfold. Though the book doesn’t cover the majority of their marriage, it was a somewhat tragic disappointment to witness Chip continually display such a poor capacity to work things out directly with Marilyn. Often their conflicts failed to be given the kind of participation that made great things happen between them and so many others.

Some girls walk into the country they are from by Sawako Nakayasu

I immediately loved the color and buoyancy of these poems, but it took a few months of picking the book up before I finally committed to a full read. Maybe it’s Some girls’ vertiginous nature. There’s so much to address, and though tonality and humor create threads to hang on, many poems feel one-of-a-kind in terms of approach, and how they make meaning. The amazing thing is watching the word “girl” broken down into a fuel that sets fire to the fluidity of language all around us, whether this kind of girl or that kind, girl or not. There are always multiple angles on each word, and infinite forms of investment bearing on every grid of social being: gender, sexuality, economy, cuisine, transportation. One of the most resonant motifs for me was the link drawn between breath (speech) and weather—the sharing of air and its consequences. In “FOUR GIRLS POOL THEIR BREASTS TOGETHER”, a scene of hidden-in-plain-sight group breast feeding takes on an anthropocenic scale, when the babies breathe so heavily and continuously through their noses that they wear holes through the blanket meant to shade them from unwanted gazes. “One baby mindlessly fingers a hole in the gauze while continuing to suckle milk from Girl I.” A pile-on of incessant baby feeders (re: man-children) meets forced invisibility to create impending destruction that would produce visibility anyway, but perhaps at a moment when it’s finally too late to save the world around us. This is just one example of how Some girls shows the weight of language, and the consequence of its (enforced) gaps.