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2017 is past. I feel compelled to thank editors Sarah Clark and Erica Mena at Anomaly for having championed my work now for a number of years. A few months back, new Philly Poet Laureate, Raquel Salas Rivera, invited me to contribute to “Puerto Rico en mi Corazón” in effort to raise funds & community following Hurricane Maria. For it, Kenneth Cumba beautifully translated a poem “…because I do not seek inclusion,” first published in BOAAT and written for my immediate community, namely the papis of Papi Juice. Anomaly has published this body of work in their newest issue.

Anomaly also nominated my poem “Liberation” from my long erasure poem, “NOCT: the Threshold of Madness” for Bettering American Poetry 2017. Thank you to the editors for selecting this poem for print. I am humbled by the inclusive gesture and hold a lot of good will toward its editors, who time after time build and offer me space.

I had the pleasure of being invited to participate again in the 44th Poetry Project’s annual New Year’s Day Benefit Reading. I read PROMESA, a sestina I erased out of H.R.4900 PROMESA and from my seared-leather celestograms. In 2017 I wrote an essay on the process of erasing the bill for credit across all my classes in the performance studies program at NYU. The reading was a wonderful experience and I’m just glad that I wasn’t as absolutely wrecked as last year and that the haters have learned to stay away. I’ve posted two short vids to my tumblr, herehere.

Lastly, I have an upcoming reading for the launch of Talk Magazine Issue 3 which includes poems from my materia series after artist and illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. In honoring the ekphrasis, exec. editor Harry Gassel solicited Alexis Beauclair for illustration into speculative landscape. The typeface is Gardena (unreleased) by Berton Hasebe. I can’t wait to hold, read, see, and smell it; the ink (and magazine in general) are of superb quality. I will be reading this Friday evening at Norwood Club. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

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I wrote this piece in the summer of 2016 and never published it. I wanted to post it:

I’m curious about the phenomenon of a .gif: #BLACKLIVESMATTER scrolling infinitely— I’ve seen this .gif circulating across social media platforms, the frequency with which I encounter it increasing, as I commit my little downtime to the good void of a dark social media spiral. Gimmicky, my friend Muriel and I agreed while discussing the subject—scoffing at the ease of a ‘share,’ the dysfunctional hashtag hyperlinking to nowhere, its popularity, and its market-tested virality. I imagined its proliferation across Facebooks worldwide. I would hiss—because I’m plagued by demons—seeing it on the page of a person I thought rather silent on issues of representation or tokenization in their immediate (ahem… professional) communities. When I first saw the .gif, I dismissed it as a #corny way by which the less melaninic among us share and reshare a text object so as to project and receive immediate solidarity, albeit in the safest of ways. And yet—

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#BLACKLIVESMATTER scrolling infinitely— There arises an impulse I know—the shadow wearing three skinned fox faces, the one who sneers—to identify[1] this .gif as a poem, a poem scrolling infinitely. Does regarding the .gif as one might a poem, cheapen or transform it into another type of text object? Can that be, when the significance of those characters in alignment is so great? Does applying this lens shrink the object? It feels gross to call to this a poem, yet, look at its formal elements: fourteen lines of refrain moving upward, without apparent beginning or end. Does this echo in form make it a non-sonnet? Does each black character of text against white space defy erasure? This object, both authorless and authored by every—

And then, the inner one, the one who sneers, locates it in discourse of concrete poetics, and whispers. #BLACKLIVESMATTER. In “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry” Augusto de Campos, Decio Pignatari and Haroldo de Campos argue “…concrete poetry begins by being aware of graphic space as structural agent.”[2] In concrete poetics, “typographical devices” are regarded “substantive elements of composition.”[3] I think of Ronaldo Azerado’s deceptively relevant “velocidade”[4], “The Fall of the Tower of Babel” by John Furnival, Ferdinand Krivet’s incredible circles of text, Edwin Morgan, Tom Phillip’s A Humement, and Marjorie Perloff’s analytical work and racist biases (YIKES) etc…

I say this demon whispers because little to nothing I’ve read of concrete poetics acknowledges blackness and many who celebrate the movement, celebrate concrete poets’ tendency to appropriate and erase “found” text. If concrete poetry is named “a product of a critical evolution of forms,” then hasn’t there occurred another rapid and critical evolution of forms, presumably due to the rapid evolution of typographical technology, design software, and social media platforms? Haven’t “evolved” poetic forms proliferated concurrently with the platforms that increase visibility of the ongoing and violent oppression occurring in our sick, cisheteropatriarchal white supremacist nation? Both the .gif and the concrete poets disallow the dimensions of a page to determine how a poem appears. If concrete poetry emerged in reaction to then-novel concepts of time-sharing computing technology and the visual-spatial arrangement of ideograms, if a concrete poem effectively communicates its “own structure,” if a “concrete poem is an object in and by itself, not an interpreter of exterior objects and/or more or less subjective feelings”, then the .gif of #BLACKLIVESMATTER scrolling infinitely would appear to fit into this literary tradition.[5] And yet, despite all of this, when encountering this .gif of #BLACKLIVESMATTER scrolling infinitely, you know who isn’t relevant or in any way central to my interpretation of the text? White Modernists.

Is this phenomenon what happens when the technological ability to produce moving text is no longer wielded by the celebrated few with access to prestigious institutions? By framing this .gif in this literary tradition, am I being subversive of the canon or am I being revisionist and exploiting the ongoing cry in response to black death by juxtaposing death’s textual product against a white backdrop? Am I forcibly integrating blackness via revisionism or am I highlighting anti-blackness and exclusivity in literary traditions as they reflect what’s happening in the streets? If Aram Saroyan could upset everyone with “lighght” in 1965 then, what’s good with the .gif?[6] I tell the one wearing now, the face of a white fox, “This cannot be a concrete (or post-concrete) poem.” What facets of the dysfunctional hashtag hyperlink communicate irony? Is #BLACKLIVESMATTER no longer a statement to address the ongoing violence against black and brown bodies, but one that highlights instead an emergent political movement (a movement still fractured by transmisogyny, misogyny, and homophobia)? I hope this .gif emerges as a staple of a new literary phenomenon. As a poetic form, the .gif poses the biggest risk to the definitions of prestige, which riddle so many institutions that capitalize (on) that P on that “Poetry.”[7]

This infinite #BLACKLIVESMATTER scroll is aging with us—I’ve seen it repeatedly for at least a year—and the ongoing violence from which it emerges has created a single poetic .gif, perhaps, in some way, of the most indicative poetic texts of our moment. What about the repetition as endless refrain makes it so viral? clinical? Hypnotic? The rate of the moving text, bodies running? It’s sudden appearance on a timeline, which is itself an infinite spiral… Is it its successive appearances on the timeline that eventually draws enough focused attention to it as a text-object and is that a part of the form? Perhaps this .gif is the echo of visceral sound. When I asked a friend her thoughts, she said, “It makes no noise but it’s there — it was always there — it persists.” #BLACKLIVESMATTER scrolling infinitely. One thing I love about being from New York City is that whenever I’m out, defiantly reclaiming public space with my body and my voice, I find myself surrounded by family both chosen and biological and we shout those words “Black Lives Matter,” we embrace each other and we hear each other’s voices. Despite the deaths that have brought us to that moment, that experience of community is marvelous. And so I remember those sounds and banish (for a time) the shadows as they plague me.

[1] Perhaps the problem, in and of itself.

[2] Augusto de Campos, Decio Pignatari and Haroldo de Campos, “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry” in Noigrandres 4 (Brazil, 1958)

[3] de Campos (et al.) “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry”

[4]

velocidade.jpegRonaldo Azerado“velocidade”

[5] de Campos (et al.) “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry”

[6] Long story short: people got mad because Saroyan won money; haters were like, “‘lighght’ isn’t a poem.” And it was news.

[7] A million shares makes the .gif a poetic phenomenon. I want to see an institution with mad money contribute to Black Lives Matter by awarding #BLACKLIVESMATTER *scrolling infinitely*, with all that big prize money.

So, I am included among the 17 recipients of this year’s NYFA/NYSCA’s Fellowship in Poetry. I was entirely prepared to be overlooked again, because hey~ The announcement bewildered me. Among the congratulatory notes I’ve received, the word “deserve” keeps reappearing. I deserve accolade no more than any of my peers who practice poetries in their own lives—written, spoken, gestured or not. I still believe that prestige is the social capital that finances our abusers, and so acknowledgement feels double-edged. How to graciously accept while simultaneously deflating a specific significance? Who knows? A trade wind jades me. Thank you to the people who’ve emotionally, intellectually, & financially sustained me in recent times, you know who you are, and I am so grateful to you. You def helped me realize this strange comfort.
 
~Congrats to all the recipients~
Especially Alejandro Varela (Apogee Fam)
Additionally, an interview I did with Xanath Caraza went live today ~Check it out~
Here’s to extending this brief stunt of living cute:
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I commit my work to the Tablets of Destiny—poems laser-etched onto suede leather–A compulsion in response to the anxieties of mortality—I hope to compose 108 scrolls in service to an unknown something. Chris Udemezue and RAGGA NYC catalyzed this project for the upcoming show “All the threatened and delicious things joining one another”, opening to the public 5/3/17.

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Tablets of Destiny I & II (2017)

A word / A work incarnates into several through translation. By which device will I communicate my power?

In many ways, I think of this piece as an investigation of ancestry. Inspired by my father’s relationship to hunting, which has provided me with physical nutrition and raw materials. Seared leather subtly connotes the curses’ emergence from violence. Because the text is seared, not ink, material has to be destroyed through incineration in order for the text-art to exist. I like to think of my relationship to language being mimetic of this, which is why illegibility is a primary concern in the conception of the piece // a curse literally written in flame.

In early 2017, RAGGA NYC, a platform founded by Christopher Udemezue, received a residency at The New Museum through the Department of Education & Public Engagement’s R&D Season: Body. RAGGA connects a community of queer Caribbean artists working across a wide range of disciplines—including visual art, fashion, and poetry—to explore how race, sexuality, gender, heritage, and history inform their work and their lives. The New Museum commissioned “Celestogram // Astrolabe I – IV”—drafts  of the “Tablets of Destiny”—in service of the group show “All the threatened and delicious things joining one another” (5/3/17 – 6/25/17), curated by Sara O’Keefe.

 

“Poetry forms a foundation for the residency. Shanekia McIntosh presents a new poem in the exhibition recounting her grandmother’s hair-braiding and tales of Queen Nanny, weaving together their stories. Joey De Jesus’s handwritten poems form rich cosmologies through words and shape. Jahmal B. Golden’s printed poem “Memoir” testifies to spiritual and personal transformations, and is flanked on the right and left by photographs of vibrantly colored hands performing rituals tied to self-excavation. Maya Monès’s poem and audio piece “Ciencias Sociales” (Social Sciences) explores Afro-Latinx identity through a recovery of unspoken family history, a process of working to become closer to her roots.”

Announcement: RAGGA NYC: All the threatened and delicious things joining one anotherfrom E-Flux

IMAGES: “Celestogram // Astrolabes (I – IV)”

*redacted until 7/17*

~ A practice in polyphony & holding multiple truths ~

~ Joey De Jesus (4/29/17)

Regarding Apogee Journal:

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Toward the end of 2016, Apogee Journal launched #NoDAPL #StillHere: Native and Anti-Colonial Craft Against Dispossession. The folio was an incredible undertaking, centering the work of indigenous poets, writers, photographers, videographers and visual artists. The curation of the folio resulted in Sarah Clark enlisting her incisive excellence to Apogee‘s staff. In her letter from the editor, she writes, “The indigenous resistance sparked by #NoDAPL issued our refusal to continue abiding by the dominant imperial narrative. No longer willing to stand by and allow non-Natives to treat phrases like “this is Indian land” or “stolen land” as metaphorical. No longer willing to be told our sacred sites have no real value, dismissed because they do not fit in with the dominant culture’s idea of what is worth preserving – with what is holy. We rejected the belief that our problems begin and end with racist mascots and demeaning Halloween costumes. With #NoDAPL, we announced to the world that we will no longer be silenced.”

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Since I’ve last updated, Apogee Journal has also launched its eighth issue. Issue 08 features an incredible excerpt of Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s Relinquish the Sky, and poetry by Cortney Charleston, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Kemi Alabi and Gary Copeland Lilley among may others. This issue includes nonfiction from Rigoberto González and Justine el-Khazen, fiction from Jean Ho and Robert Lopez, visual art from Jennifer Chan, Dominique White, and Lawrence Lek. Cover art by E. Jane.


2 poems in Southern Humanities Review:

My poems “FDR Drive” and “abandonment before the salt pan (& the sandstorm)” appear in the newest issue of Southern Humanities Review vol. 50 No 3&4. Several years ago, I composed “FDR Drive”, annotating observations while driving up the highway. I began “abandonment before the salt pan (& the sandstorm)” while riding shotgun along the Trans-Kalahari Highway. The images in the poem draw from observations of the Namibian interior.

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The Poetry Project New Year’s Day Marathon:

Aeliana Nicole took this photo of me barely keeping it together New Year’s Day; I was so catastrophically hungover…standing was truly a miracle. I have to thank the Poetry Project for including me in their programming again this year.

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Fuck U Betsy

B and I have decide to start a band: materia, we’re doomy stoners. We’ve practiced once, but who cares, we’re performing at ALPHAVILLE: 140 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn. 2/15 8:00pm. COME THRU!