It was a messy and foggy morning when Steven Sillyperson logged onto 4chan.org and saw the picture of a dog photoshopped inside the foreskin of a human penis. Steven, who prefers gender neutral pronouns, saved the picture in their Dropbox folder titled reaction pics, and after spending twenty minutes reading a post about Elliot Rodgers, they started a Tinychat room and linked to it in their thread on /b/.
The sky felt gender neutral to Cher Littlebit while she browsed an area code hook up thread on /soc/. She ctrl+F’d “415” but didn’t receive any results. Simba, the orange ragamuffin, knocked over a vase before running out of her bedroom and hiding under a couch. Cher followed him out the room and laid down at eye level with him where they stared at one another. “What’s the matter with you?” she said but Simba had trouble understanding her because he mainly communicates through body language.
Steven smoked salvia alone in their room to an audience of twenty peers, and when they began to feel constrictions tense through their body, they came to the same, reoccurring thought, “I can not imagine anyone consenting to this.” In the middle of the terribly physical and violent yanking of Steven’s identity, they felt something familiar.
But does it really matter if things feel familiar to Steven,and I mean does this feel similar to you, this familiar feeling thing I mean?Just FYI, I don’t see any correlation to how Steven perceives themself to how someone like, for example, me can perceive themself. It’s hard for me to find the connections between the things happening around me, but we make connections with the people in our communities all the time anyway, and they affect the way we think about the things and people around us, just in case you weren’t paying attention this is what is currently happening.
Paul Nickleback, who had recently published Cher in his serialized magazine focused on culture and gender after their initial meeting at a book launch last month in San Mateo, who had just sent Cher one of many increasingly concerning text messages requesting nude photos, hadn’t left his home in a week following his termination from his job, and watched Steven on tinychat but lost interest halfway through, in the same familiar way he had lost interest in himself whenever long ago, it doesn’t really matter.
Eli recently began his job at NewHive.com and is otherkin. His Facebook news feed displays an article that matches his interests. Millions of dollars go towards an algorithm that ensures you only see the articles that are most relevant towards you. Humans are increasingly finding new ways to control and change the environment around them. Eli, on the other hand, identifies as a cat.
A Completeness Ravished. A painting by my grandmother, Isota Tucker Epes about the life of Virginia Woolf
I noticed right away that a cool 80% of the books listed in the above mentioned Facebook challenge were by male authors. I taunted some for at least one woman’s name. A couple had two, even three. But for sure, none of the listings were all women, or even more than half. Just because.
I think it’s fair to say my grandmother was Virginia Woolf’s #1 fan, and later in her life, she dedicated her time to painting about her novels. They were widely acknowledged as the product of someone totally dedicated to all angles, versions, historical accounts, and re-readings of Woolf’s divine puzzles.
She retired to a farmhouse at the end of a mile long road on Horn Harbor at the Chesapeake Bay. Gardenias the size of navel oranges hung in the front of the house, and in the back, figs as big as plums.There, all by herself, she raised goats and geese, painted, grew an organic garden, maintained the house almost single-handedly, and read all evening.
When it was dark, it was pitch black and the water on the harbor came to an almost complete silence. By bright yellow mosquito lights, she read me Austen, the Bronte sisters, Sand, and Eliot. Her bookcases were overwhelmingly populated by women writers from Walker to Lispector, mostly Virginia Woolf in first and second editions and frayed everyday copies she could read for the umpteenth time.
I offer her up to the rest of us for a little balance. Since her last bookcase was broken down long ago, I asked a team of feminist artists and curators to write a list of ten books that stayed with them in some way, exclusively by women. I link out to Abe’s Books (Amazon if I couldn’t find a match) so you could easily get a copy for yourself.
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, & Leanne Shapton
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton will be released on September 4, 2014. This book is a compilation of interviews, conversations, essays, and photographic collections from 642 contributors and their unique relationship with clothes. (Includes interviews with Miranda July, Cindy Sherman, and Lena Dunham) Women in Clothes dives into the complexities of how clothes forms our identities as women - spanning generations, cultures, countries, class, gender, sexuality, and fashion. Clothes act as our outward persona and simultaneously our shield. Clothes can be intensely connected to memory. The stories held within are touching, relatable, and often raw.
This is a crucial addition for any fashion library. As an artist myself who often works with the idea of clothes and identity within my sculpture, I wish this resource had been available years ago. I will be purchasing it for my personal library for reference. After reading Women in Clothes, you will have renewed enthusiasm to wear whatever makes you feel most like you.
excerpt from 'The Fun We've Had' by Michael J Seidlinger
She closed her eye and cupped her hand around the other, focusing in on a patch of water where waves merged to mimic the shape of a human mouth. The sea wanted to speak, but all she heard were the words that she kept to herself. Accusatory in nature, she hid in the borrowed body, secretly attacking herself for having pushed the only one still close by, even after everything, and quite literally everything, disappeared beyond the horizon. He remained her anchor and chain as much as she was his. Never mind their past; never mind their future. The present was what got the best of her. It was what worried her most. It was what pulled at her, a threat that nothing would change; no matter how much she did to bargain a better draw.
“I hope I have the flesh left to tidy these sentences up in the future, so I can call myself a storywriter instead of a poser poet, so I can call myself an author instead of a skeleton.”—Trinie Dalton (via bobschofield)
I am home. I am near a window. There is a wind moving outside. There is a sun falling on everything like a clumsy animal. I hear a dog barking. It’s not my dog, but I wish it was.
when did you start writing? what do you enjoy about writing and reading poetry, in particular?
I started writing in high school, because it seemed like a good way to communicate the dumb blood of my teenage years. I like reading poetry because of how it shares smallness. I like writing poetry because it helps me listen to the stenography in my static. It helps me understand how strange it is to be a body in a body. It helps me see how the world sees me and how I see it, and how when I am writing I feel so much like a tiny thing which holds big things which are capable of soft things.
can you tell me a little bit about FreezeRay and how you got involved in that publication? what types of things do you look for when reading poetry submissions?
FreezeRay! It is a home for pop culture poetry, built & loved & managed by Rob Sturma, who is such a lantern of a human, being. I got involved when Rob said he was starting a new journal & asked if I’d be interested in being a part of it. And three (going on four) issues later, we are still going strong. Rob is opening up a press, which will be publishing my chapbook of St. Vincent-inspired poems, Fake Knife, as their first title. I am so happy to be on this ride, with someone who believes so passionately in what they’re doing.
But as far as the journal goes, I personally look for writing that engages with pop culture in such a way that it makes me look at the pop culture in question differently. I read many poems sent in where it’s clear, so clear, that the poet has such a passion for what they are writing about, but that passion didn’t make it to the poem itself. I want poems that demonstrate the impact pop culture has on our lives as individuals, bodies, hearts, and why that matters. And I believe pop culture matters. Please, send us your pop culture goodness!
how much time do you spend online? what kind of influence do you think the internet has had on your writing?
I spend too much time online. I look for jobs. I read journals. I do work for FreezeRay. I submit poems like crazy. I’m thankful for the internet, but I don’t spend nearly enough time moving through doorways as I need to.
The internet has influenced my writing simply in the writers it has allowed me to discover. What journals that wouldn’t exist without the internet, serving as home to all kinds of writing I might never see otherwise. And Tumblr, specifically. That’s how I got my book Supernova Factory to be a real thing. That’s how I have been able to listen & grow & continue as a writer/bird/dog. Thank goshness for the internet.
who are some writers that have meant a lot to you?
Okay, here we go.
Anis Mojgani. He inspired me to keep writing, and to take it seriously. His gentleness, his fierce belief in the magic of the world had such a profound effect on my work, and how it grew. Gosh, I can’t emphasize how thankful I am for his might & myth. And Anis is the sweetest person. Go get his book The Feather Room.
Jeremy Radin. Jeremy is the mother in my mountain. The loudness in my ballroom. I sent him an email a couple years ago after reading his book, asking if he’d read some of my poems. And he did. And he helped me dig my voice of the dirt and feed it to the birds. And he is such a monumental force on my heart & life. I love Jeremy. Go get his book Slow Dance With Sasquatch.
Shira Erlichman. I took a workshop with Shira on surrealism this summer & she casually reprinted the blueprints of my life. She inspires. That’s what she does. She holds the wonder of this world like a breath, & when she lets it go, trees blush. She taught me so much about making my own world real, and how to better make this world mine. Go read/listen to everything she’s done & pray for her book to arrive.
Sara Woods. When I first read Sara’s work, I instantly felt a closeness to her. I felt like I was reading a language only I understood. I felt like anything was possible because damn it, it is. I felt like love poems are the most important poems because damn it, they are. Sara is one of the most important poets working today. Her work makes the world better than it was before her work existed. Go get her book Wolf Doctors.
And here’s a few other writers who made my life softer/taller/more capable: Zachary Schomburg, Heather Christle, Rachel McKibbens, Annelyse Gelman, Angel Nafis, Danez Smith, Frank Stanford, Tracy K. Smith, Richard Siken, Sasha Fletcher, Wendy Xu, Aracelis Girmay, etc. etc. etc. forever.
are you working on any projects right now?
My St. Vincent chapbook is almost done, just a few housekeeping things on that. I’ve written a chapbook of poems around gender & dogs & oh my gosh bodies are so freaking weird, that I’m beginning to throw around to presses, along with a full length manuscript of prose poems called Thaw. And besides that, I have a few dozen poems waiting to be published/submitted.
please name a song that you really identify with at this point in your life
I’ll give you two: St. Vincent, “Cruel.” Because I’m an anxious mass of hummingbirds. And Kanye West, “Lost in the World” because I’m an anxious mass of hummingbirds.
In the play, there are two monsters onstage. They are having dinner, at a restaurant. One monster is in a terrible marriage, of course. The other monster is lonely, and is in love with the other monster, of course. While they eat, and have their conversation, another monster is in the front row of the audience. This monster is weeping, incredibly moved by the play. This monster pulls a rose from under the seat, and holds it out towards the stage. Both monsters on stage reach for the rose. Both monsters on stage grab the rose. The two monsters on stage begin to fight over the rose, while the monster in the audience weeps. Eventually, the two monsters on stage have killed each other, of course. The monster in the audience climbs on stage, picks up the rose, and exits. The rest of the audience exits. The rest of the audience is empty. The rest of the audience is roses, and dead monsters. Everyone is falling in love.
11:40 PM me: feeling intense lonliness Tao: im feeling espeiclaly bored right now me: keep… Tao: tried to tweet how i felt…felt like im an octopus flailing desperaptely at the copmtuer screen in desperation to connect with someone me: clicking…
“god you dwindle my high you don’t mean to you don’t notice but I snap back into myself my outfit, plain the usual truth you can picture it this evening I’m uneasy fix me or leave me I can have fun by myself I was having it before this I was loving the world more than animals love the world I was feeling the way roads feel you’re always talking about your neighbor she must have a great body you set your attention on things and they shimmer in the light in the dark of your attention”
“Sal came home to a bathtub full of knives and his girlfriend Maryanne beside it, stopped in his periphery, waiting for a reaction. The image was alarming at first — knives, multiform, stacked lengthwise to the brim of the bathtub, these sharp things, in as intimate a place as the bathroom — then accepted by Sal as some established other thing, ordained by Maryanne or whatever, some custom or procedure for which he would have to recalibrate and feign interest. Except he didn’t know where to start. His confusion, his not knowing how to act or seem, and his standing there, quiet, beside Maryanne, for too long, it felt, would begin again the panic. He couldn’t tell if Maryanne was presenting him with something she had arranged on purpose or accusing him or asking him for help with something, and he didn’t know whether he should be amused, angered, or afraid. He wanted to be the right one. He had to investigate and he had to start somewhere. “Why is the bathtub full of knives?” “I don’t know,” she said. “I mean, I put them there but they were sent here.””
This novel is about two people who link up on a Greyhound bus: Bill Houston, a petty criminal drifting around the country — and Jamie Mays, a young mother who has run away from her husband. By the end of the book Jamie is living in a mental hospital, completely out of her mind — and Bill ends up on Death Row, awaiting the moment of execution when his soul will get ‘sucked up the pipe.’
This was Johnson’s first novel, and I like it as much as anything else he’s written since.
I think of Denis Johnson as a Christian writer, in the same company as Flannery O’Connor, Emily Dickinson, Joy Williams, and Dostoyevsky. The type of Christian ideas that appear in these books are not religiously conventional or dogmatic, but come from a deep confrontation with misery, pain, and horror.
In one scene, Bill Houston asks one of his Death Row jailers:
"Are you religious?" Bill Houston asked.
"Of course I’m religious. Everybody’s religious in the Death House."
This is the type of religious universe you’d be more likely to find in Aeschylus than Billy Graham. It is the type of universe where God is incommunicable and full of violence and awe — a universe where Death is the mother of beauty, and God’s messengers speak through street lights and flames of fire.