Author Archives: Geraldine Kim

Talking with Cheena Marie Lo About A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters

A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters (Commune Editions, 2016) by Cheena Marie Lo is a book of poetry that challenges what “poetry” can be. This text “[attends] to the sorts of mutual aid and possibility that appear in moments of state failure. As such it maps long and complicated equations, moving from Katrina to the prisoners at Riker’s Island as they await Sandy. It understands disaster as a collective system, the state as precarious, and community as necessary” (Commune Editions, 2016). While Lo’s original preoccupation concerned headlines of the past, in light of recent events in Orlando, I feel like this text, unfortunately, continues to be relevant today.

so what about the instinct to survive.

so what about birds and burying beetles.

so what about support and what about struggle.

so what about ants and bees and termites.

so what about the field upon which tender feelings develop
even amidst otherwise most cruel animals.

so what about migration. breeding. autumn.

so what about the numberless lakes of the russian and siberian steppes
and what about aquatic birds, all living in perfect peace—

Geraldine KimMany sections in A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters begin with some sort of carrier word or phrase that is repeated throughout that same section (e.g., “Because Another Tropical Storm is Looming,” with the word “because” or “Poor Marks for His Handling of Federal Response” with the word “poor”). Can you talk a bit about the function of this repetition in regards to the overall project/subject matter?

Cheena Marie Lo: Repetition is something that I use a lot in my writing because it reflects my thought process when I’m trying to figure something out. I have a tendency to relentlessly circle around things in my head. Some of these “carrier” words or phrases were part of the procedures I used when writing this– I lifted instances of “because” or “poor” or other “carriers” in the texts that I was working with. Reducing the materials to these words and phrases that surrounded them illuminated patterns and narratives in the source material. My intention with the repetition was to build and expand these narratives out.

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On The Meshes: An Interview with Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

The following is an interview I did with Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, an Oakland-based poet whose recent book of poetry the meshes (Black Radish, 2016) features a complex polyvocal/temporal interpretation/dialogue of and against Maya Deren‘s filmography.

the meshes cover

 

Geraldine Kim: When I was reading the meshes, I noticed multiple layers of gazing or “looking” throughout the text—the gaze of the filmmaker, of the author writing about the filmmaker’s work, etc. “looking resists. looking revises. looking interrogates. looking invents, to be stared at. looking at one another. looking back” (p.31) and “having performed seeing. seeing double. seeing doubles. having performed spectatorship. I describe the lens. the film itself. the both-ness. opposition of becoming. soft focus. caught the light. depth of surfaces. multiplications as limiting” (p. 54). Could you talk a bit more about these layers?

Brittany Billmeyer-Finn: Spectatorship is innate to the process of writing this book. An important part of the process is watching films. It also becomes a source of contention and critique that develops in the four sections of the book; “the poems,” “the essay,” “the play,” and “the annotated bibliography.” Continue reading

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Middle Time: An Interview with Angela Hume

Middle Time

The following post features an interview I had with Angela Hume about her upcoming book of poetry, Middle Time (Omnidawn, 2016). This book breathes intensely between moments of ecology, biology, and temporality. Here’s an excerpt:

p 77

Middle Time, p. 77

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Best of 2015: Top 10 Albums Featuring Strong Female &/or Genderqueer Vocals

There are and will be many Best Music of 2015 lists floating around on the ‘nets, but none featuring strong female and/or genderqueer vocals—until now! In arbitrary/alphabetical order:

1. Anna Van Hausswolff – The Miraculous

miraculous

This album felt more doom-metal than her last, which I was surprised by/totally okay with.


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How to Sound Like an Asian Female Poet

angry asian

Image via Angry Little Girls, Lela Lee.

I wrote/recorded (click here to hear) the following in reaction to recent events. Also, our fabulous Weird Sister Soleil Ho wrote a related post (which you should also check out if you haven’t already)…

[Procedure: Have an actual Asian female poet silently mouth “take my face take my voice take my face take my voice” throughout this entire audio recording]

Are you a cis-white male poet who’s been rejected over and over for the same shitty poem? Do you want this same shitty poem to be selected for the Best American Poetry anthology?

Then look no further–just adopt an Asian female voice! Continue reading

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Reviewing Holly Herndon’s Platform

holly herndon

The following is a music review (similar to what I did before and before) where I write what comes to me as I listen to Holly Herndon’s new album, Platform:

1. “Interference”
Traverse time apart from/next to myself
Dedicated machinery, joints dance, hum of fast-paced rise and fall
Linking slow and sudden
Stutter clearly, throughout. The  fundamental frequency of great shifts.
Shift to quiet. Shift in circles. Pulse out. Outer ripples provide the current rhythm reverberating back, activating other nodes. Laser cutting across dark matter, loping looping space falling apart fa fa falling apart. Continue reading

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¡Best Friends 4ever! A review of Belleza y Felicidad

bellezaReading Belleza y Felicidad (Sand Paper Press) is like listening to a funny/sexy/serious/gorgeous phone conversation between best friends. In this case, the friends are Argentinian writers/artists Fernanda Laguna and Cecilia Pavón, with translation by Stuart Krimko.

Laguna and Pavón’s friendship began when Pavón attended an exhibition of Laguna’s visual art in Buenos Aires.

The alchemy generated by their first conversations eventually led to the desire to create a spatial dimension for the writing and art they were making. It quickly took shape as a physical location, a storefront gallery and art-supply store….Belleza y Felicidad [the name of the gallery as well as this book] soon came to represent a refuge in real space as a well as an important node in the realm of the imagination….The place operated as if it were really an excuse to recreate a new category of literature; the gallery was, itself, the art (xi).

When you can create as well as work alongside your friend, you know you have a true friendship—one of life’s greatest joys. Unlike romantic relationships, being BFFs is socially optional. You both choose what frequency/duration/with what level of vulnerability—and you choose each other every time you hang out.

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The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson: An Object of Love

argonauts cover

Maggie Nelson’s new book, The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015), might be better than anything I’ve read previously by her (yes, better than The Art of Crueltyand even, I dare say, Bluets). Part personal essay/cultural critique/love letter to her newborn child and to her partner, renowned artist Harry Dodge, this whirlwind of text falls into neat fragments with its title borne from a Barthesian simile:

… in which Barthes describes how the subject who utters the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase “I love you,” its meaning must be renewed by each use, as “the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new” (p. 5).

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Tender Points: An Interview with Amy Berkowitz

TP Cover

The following is an interview between Amy Berkowitz and me for her new book, Tender Points (Timeless Infinite Light), to be published this month. A narrative fractured by trauma and named after the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, this book-length lyric essay explores sexual violence, gendered illness, chronic pain, and patriarchy through the lenses of lived experience and pop culture.

 My body is washing dishes and it’s in pain. My body is on hold with California Blue Cross Blue Shield and it’s in pain. My body is dancing and it’s in pain. My body is Skyping Beth and it’s in pain. My body is taking a shower and it’s in pain. My body is riding BART and it’s in pain. My body is politely saying no and it’s in pain. My body is reading a book and it’s in pain. My body is at work and it’s in pain. My body is writing this and it’s in pain. My body is walking to meet you and it’s in pain. (127)

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Chloe Caldwell’s Women Isn’t About Anything and It’s About Everything

chloe caldwell

Despite the title, Women by Chloe Caldwell (Short Flight/Long Distance Books, 2014) is not just for women. It’s for anyone who likes reading fiction but also has a problem with reading fiction. It’s also for feminists who want to read a book with predominantly female characters. It’s also for anyone who’s bisexual and/or ever questioned their sexuality. It’s also for all the above and none of the above.

“You have to read this book. It’s stayed with me for months,” I say to a friend over dinner.

“What’s it about?” my friend asks.

“It’s about…” I begin to say, even though I don’t like answering what things are about, even though I often ask others what things are about, “the difficulty of writing about experience in the same way that holding onto love is seemingly impossible.”

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