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January 2023

Alfred Hernandez, Aodán McCardle, Ben Pelhan, Chloe Proctor, Declan Wiffen, Devis Bergantin,

Emma Filtness, Estelle Fielder, JD Howse, Josh Vyrtz, JP Seabright, Kris Rowland, Maria Sledmere,

Paul Ingram, Siobhan Dunlop, Theodoros Chiotis

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The Gardener

by Alfred Hernandez

The Gardener is a soundless allegorical video loop, inspired by the work of 16th century Belgian artist Pieter Bruegel. Eclipses have always been seen as signs and warnings, heralding the 'end of times.' Hernandez created this piece around the time of the 2015 bloodmoon eclipse, allegorically addressing world issues including global warming and the rise of water levels.  

Alfred Hernandez is an interdisciplinary artist who works mostly in video. He uses creative exploration and practices from experimental animation to conceptual performance art, utilizing the various genres of filmmaking and photography as a way of self reflection and self growth with works that focus on the changing natural landscape and the fluidity of identity.

Alfred can be found at Alfredhernandez.com

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Purgatory

by Aodán McCardle

Purgatory is a response to the work of Robert Ashley, especially 'Perfect Lives' and 'Automatic Writing.' The central structure of the mé tú sé sí grammatical form, taking the identity of the people as embodied in the act of speaking and in the graphic and phonic evidence of their presence, is adapted in 'Purgatory' both towards Ashley's concerns for the development of a nation in 'Perfect Lives' and his exploration of the inability to express in 'Automatic Writing'. McCardle takes a transition through Yeats' 'Second Coming', Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake' and Beckett's 'Krapps Last Tape' and furthers Beckett's consideration of Joyce's Purgatory as opposed to Dante's as an Irish Literary grounding. The work is improvised using 'potentials' (preconceived actions) and a film developed as a score for performance. 

Aodán McCardle is a painter, poet, and ex:gardener/tattooist. He is a co-editor at Veer Books. His PhD is on Action as Articulation of the Contemporary Poem though physicality and doubt are the site of meaning and the stance respectively where the action operates. His current practice is improvised performance/writing/drawing as a finding out. He grew up in the mountains, moved to the city, lives by the sea.

 

Aodán can be found at @redochretattoo on instagram and @redochre1 on twitter

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Skymall

by Ben Pelhan

everyone has wings!
even the cashiers!


but before you leave
you have to give them back.


before you’re put down.
set back.

every product gets
the ‘the’ it deserves.


that’s one way you can tell
a magazine is amazing.


another is because
it’s a mall


in the sky!

every plane has a basement.
every basement a bargain.


you spend less to look more
on top of it.


the sky is nothing
is beneath you.

Skymall is a short poems exploring themes of consumerism and travel through a surrealist, comedic lens. 

Ben Pelhan is an American immigrant in London. His poetry has appeared in The Black Warrior Review, BOMB Magazine, The Fairy Tale Review, Hobart, Rewidling: An Ecopoetic Anthology, and elsewhere. He has often lived near rivers but never by the sea.

 

Ben can be found @benpelhan on Instagram, posting what is essentially new dad content.

In your abrasing use of image      Digital Phantom jagggd

 ascenorrd on thes soft in ner flesh of my che eks

  Such intimate fkesh is not eassily got at witout

v

  iolence Without gua rantee is it my job to keep b sa fe

      your ancipation ????

Ascender Incisors

                                Pushed against the c o de paramete rs

                                                         Mor r e Less than                                       Incessant Refr e sh

W riting around the material inaccessib blyyyy

   Just as my phra ases getting stuck     in                     the mechanics

Aw    aiting the smallest of scraps

                       Lovingly devoured  with                                            such              gratitude

        Gains in th e de et ya tailing between sen se add fee ling

and and and anan and d and it is a alwwa ys e n o u gh un tilith

         ha ng s a po ossibi lity           at whi chp oint t t it b comes

              unbearbly op en

Type / Abrad e / Razoes / E mo coes / Volta / lag u n i tas

   Sw e a t / P a ni icles / Wi tched / Os te nsibly

Kern / Boo

                    tlicker / Bite / Diares sis / Haha lolol

Conci er ge / t h i s / ext re me ly / this feeling

      eeeeeeeee / :’( / all of th a t / th ese / Hand s

      deg ene ra t e / citizen / Luicidd / Cry sta l lised

 

               exta n t / so oris sssss sso n ic s / Leop ard / Lbertine

                     Ne v a d a / Tra s h / El e ph ant

    Format / Co n cierge / Hot tel / Dreamslike clockwork

            Ni gh tm are Sonics / dea th / Grips / Absoluteyl y

                Knk u cklle crack / PRY / Prise / Skin

               P roove it / Content

Drop / Cu mdo ubt / Resrai a in a/ Jus wondrul

To h ave w illing ly m open d the d oor and offered up

   val uable s a s i f t ey we re de trit us / ex pu lsi on

      of diss atifa actio on /

Tanicia Pratt’s self-published Blue was released on Mother’s Day in the Bahamas. Revealed alongside Instagram images of performative mothering - the book wrapped in blankets in a simulated feeding position - and colour co-ordinated selfie stories, everything about Pratt’s debut collection announcement was rooted in her own expressions of identity and womanhood. Where birthing trauma is the lingering psychological impact of how we come to be in the world, Blue set out to be bolstered by the poet’s agency and a lucid acknowledgement of its being a document of personal pain, refreshingly swaddled with grace.
 

Blue is more than a colour. Like the ocean, like the skies, it is vast yet weighted, everywhere aan nowhere. It is a spectrum of emotions, aan it is also the only thing left after all emotions subside. I became numb in my own blue(s). I wrote so I wouldn't feel numb again.

 

(Prologue from Blue)


I’m initially struck by Pratt’s embodying of place through colour. The Nassau based poet evokes her island home in being surrounded by blue sea and sky. The duality of presence in place and absence (numbness) of feeling sets up a liminal suspension of her relationship with domestic trauma allowing for Blue to establish itself as a deeply introspective and generous investigation of feeling. Where Maggie Nelson worries away at her obsession with blue in Bluets, lifting blueness as 3-dimensional object-stanzas to be probed and picked through, Pratt swims weightlessly in her blues as a subject held in space. She has stated that her work focuses on the social and natural landscapes of the Caribbean and that she is interested in exploring Afro-Caribbean culture, history, intersectional feminism, racism, violence, and environment through her poetry. While Blue has the colour, sound and wave forms of the Caribbean in landscape, it is Pratt’s proprioceptive speaker which provides the time and place of this text. The body in relation to the domestic and the social is an intensely sensualised mediator between location and experience.
 

Of their tiny hands gripped around my fingers. How I would pay fine attention to clipping their nails. Oiling their hair with a blend of jojoba aan shea butter. How they would have my eyes, my lips. How I would be in limbo ~

 

(I Shed The Blood Myself)


I’d like to return to this feeling of grace which underlines the collection. Pratt is a poet who is as comfortable with formal experimentation as she is with spoken word and free verse, repeatedly returning to and re-approaching her subject from inside out. While the text is not stylistically constrained, flitting from prose to sermon to “compartmentalised” stanzas which read up, down and across the page, it very much sits in the tradition of lyric poetry. Far from veering into the maudlin, or lyric shame (which Gillian White argues is an embarrassment around what poetry is “supposed” to be or a self-referential kind of cringe in engaging with the lyric “I” in the essay Lyric Shame: The “Lyric” Subject of Contemporary American Poetry.), there is instead a lyric generosity in her approach to abuse, abortion, grief and environmental despair.
 

In structuring the time-place of trauma in blueness, breaths, waves and suspension, Pratt garners a feeling of patience throughout the book. She is allowing her speaker and reader the space to rage, to cry and to find peace. This patience is distilled in two standout poems of the collection, Teach Yi How Ta Swim and Poinciana Tell Me Ta Burn which feature Pratt’s grandmother and the returning bloom of a poinciana tree respectively. Both seem to encapsulate the same character of a wise, older, feminine energy.

but you’se doan check fa me like dat man
not like how yi use ta check fa me ~
(Teach Yi How To Swim)
I een see ya fa a while
but I miss ya.


(Poinciana Tell Me Ta Burn)


Both the grandmother and the poinciana stand in as stoic features of the Caribbean landscape, aged and demanding attention from the generations that have come after them. Yet both carry a benevolence and trust that the addressee will find their way back, having figured through the difficult distractions of modern life

Pratt enunciates a defiance in her relationship with Bahamian Creole in the poem No Brackets on my Tongue which problematises the white washing of Afro-Caribbean text in pedagogy. Elsewhere, she refers to the book herself as “poetic jazz” and there is an obvious musicality in her voice as a poet, the way it lilts and drips with Caribbean song. She establishes herself in a tradition of black women as storytellers and soul singers through a trans-disciplinary, formally unrestricted poetic practice. She is a poet who needs to be heard (I cannot recommend enough her short film accompanying her poem Poinciana Tell Me Ta Burn from this collection).


What wrong (wit) me wanting to feel
my roots, planted in my throat
whipping off my tongue?
What wrong (wit) sounding
like whining waists aan goat skin drums?
You just (wan) chap up words
to make it easier for you to read!


(No Brackets On My Tongue)


Most prevalent are the Creole conjunctions such as “wit”, “ta” and, dominantly, “aan”. She outlines that “aan - is what lingers after straightening the tongue. a sign that we were here”. “Aan” performs as a breath between words, stanzas, poems. It points to the gasp or sigh that emanates after experience and before expression. It is the sound that escapes you when you are trying to find the words. Pratt insists that these breaks, the sign that we were here, don’t go unnoticed, that they are as important as what is being vocalised. “Everywhere aan nowhere”; the “aan”s make a point of their presence in the dialect that roots them. This works as a thread through the collection wherein a voice is trying to find a place, to situate a language which can stammer through trauma.


While very frequently heartbreaking and at times anger-inducing, Blue approaches emotional difficulty with a
respect for the process of finding a way to make peace. It is a collection which plucks at the pain of expressing
trauma and places it somewhere it can breathe.

Exorcism on Broken Typewriter is part of an ongoing, wider project which explores themes of sexuality, sex work and communication in the context of modern technology.

 

"I Become a Dancing Tremble" is a review of Tanicia Pratt's debut poetry collection, Blue, which was published in the Bahamas in 2022 and can be purchased online.

Chloë Proctor is a London-Irish mulchy poet and massage therapist. Her work grapples with generating grammar ecologies and with exploring alternative patterns of sense making. Her debut collection Terra Forming is out with Broken Sleep Books on 31st Jan 2023 (available for pre-order now). She is due to be a poet in residence as part of Can Serrat’s Narrativa Colectiva residency in Barcelona, January 2023. She is a former member of The Crested Tit Collective and the former Assistant Editor of The Babel Tower Notice Board. She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Poetic Practice MA programme in 2021.

Chloë can be found online @chloproc

Endless Chat // #2 [draft] is an audio-visual collage exploring queer intimacy in rural spaces. Please note this film contains flashing images.  

declan wiffen is a writer and teacher based in Kent.

declan can be found on all socials @lichencamp

Devis Bergantin, Venus after the flames, 2022, digital drawing + databending + photo editi

After Three Catastrophes

by Devis Bergantin

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After Three Catastrophies works through the immediacy of semi-automatic and digital drawing to investigate the unconscious. This practice is an almost daily action that does not strive to discover a common symbolic dimension, but rather intends to find alternative narrative spaces by means of the results that are close to abstraction that the work manages to achieve. What interests Bergantin is to bring out and then expand through the techniques of glitch art (databending) and photo editing the evocative possibilities of this form of drawing. The work explores the individual unconscious and its imaginative potential, which can be understood as an incursion of the fantastic, sometimes the sci-fi, into everyday life.  

Devis Bergantin lives in Caronno Pertusella, Italy, and is a self-taught visual artist and writer: he particularly prefers drawing from the depths, glitch art and short or very short writing (in Italian and English). He is an associate member of the independent collective Raw Art Foundation (http://rawartfoundation.de/ and @raw_atelier320) in Frankfurt am Main, which supports the creativity of artists without canonical training. Bergantin is one of the two founders and curators of the project La briciola squisita (https://labriciolasquisita.blogspot.com/ and @labriciolasquisita), which is an archive of texts (possibly handwritten, but there are exceptions) combined with drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and everything in between. The artist mainly collaborates with fanzines, magazines and independent spaces.

Devis can be found at https://dbergantin.tumblr.com/ or @devisbergantin on Instagram.

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Dream Traum[a]

by Emma Filtness

“to die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there's the rub, for in
this sleep of death what dreams may come…” – Hamlet


There is always a princess dreaming
somewhere scrolling through Insta
I see five fawns side-sleeping on pillows
in the back of a silver hatchback


I count their spots white like dominoes
fallow, they sleep themselves into extinction
in roman vivaria, scientific dama dama
nothing but ornaments, cheap clay replica


rare exotica decorate aristocratic tables
eat me in the medieval fantasy RPG
of British history, become escape artists
go their own way. Chase butterflies


that rest on their noses, cartoon eyes
too big for slender faces.

Dream Traum[a] is the first poem in a little series that sort of recasts all the dreaming princesses of fairy tales in a contemporary world laden with pop-psychoanalysis and Internet detritus.

Emma Filtness (she/her) is a poet and senior lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University London. Her erasure poetry pamphlet, Bandaged Dreams, is out now with Broken Sleep Books.

Emma can be found @em_filtness on twitter and instagram

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Spectator Sport

by Estelle Fielder

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Spectator Sport focuses on the dynamic of looking and being disturbed in the experience of modern mass media. The irony of this piece was inspired by the mock news comedy, ‘The News Today’ – more specifically the program’s skit on the media’s approach to war. The content of the poem was also inspired by a quotation from Carl Sagan’s ‘The Demon Haunted World’: “I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy… when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...” 

Estelle can be found on instagram @estelllla

Jubilate Instagram

(for Gilbert Anderson)

 

Let the poets rejoice in their follower counts and coteries. 

For I shall consider Al Anderson’s cat, Gilbert. For he has

eyes as complex as tide pools, which saw the birth of the

universe and have secret knowledge of its inevitable end.

 

For he perches upon the sink and considers the flow of

the water from the taps, and raises a paw but does not

bat at it, knowing better than to dampen himself. For he

carries toys in his mouth and takes them into other rooms,

 

very busy, with important things to do, aware, but uncaring

that he is being observed and recorded. Let networking 

and quote tweets proliferate across all channels of the 

Poetry Community [tm]. Al’s an incredible poet, one of my 

 

favourites, but if he is using Instagram to promote poetry, 

he is using it wrong; his cat is better written than any poem.

Petscop

 

The favourite hobby of internet video essayists 

is trying to impose tidy narratives & clear interpretations 

on the abstract weirdness that thrives on the internet. 

 

Trying to work out the plot of Petscop misses the point of Petscop; 

it’s telling a story through texture and atmosphere & emotion and lack. 

 

You have tricked yourself into thinking 

an interpretation is the same thing as an explanation. 

 

I just let things happen to me, late at night, with the lights turned off 

& the fan turned on & the screen too bright for reality even at its lowest setting. 

 

Have you ever gone back to something from your childhood & been made

so uncomfortable by how different it was to the brief flashes of memory 

you still had of it that you need to abandon the whole thing & never go back? 

 

Mostly I remember sitting alone in my bedroom looping activities over themselves 

until time passed & eventually I was an adult writing at lunch.

Ambient & Relaxing Yume Nikki & YN: Dream Diary Music

 

Not dying of lung disease is just a scam invented by Japanese 

pedometer companies to sell products. It’s all capitalism, 

the whole thing, all the way down. I’m nearly thirty & then 

I’ll be gay dead until I put on some muscle & turn 50 or get rich. 

 

The issue here is that you keep trying to argue with me 

& I genuinely don’t need you to think that I am right 

& will never think that you are, so it’s pointless.

 

I had a dream that I didn’t leave my house for a year, 

putting my hand on the doorknob & shaking my head, 

throwing myself off the balcony. 

 

What a luxury it would be to live alone & draw my dreams

all day in a little notebook on the desk. I think the carpets 

have started watching me. I had a dream but I was awake 

& it was just lights moving on a screen & I was so lost it hurt.

Ghostwatch

 

I have a strongly held belief. It is Halloween night, 1992, 

and there is a ghost in my television. The phone rings. 

It is real, it is purposeful, it is haunting me. 

The television rings. Bound over extent, 

 

stitched alive with hot melted glue. 

But the physical purpose of this vivisection 

is to imagine being cut open and stitched back together. 

Like a book. A scalpel is an edge of understanding 

 

and you may yet survive. As if, concrete image, 

tv screen, curtains drawn, so as not to see the sky, 

as the eclipse played on TV. A week later, 

the newspaper offers a free VHS copy, 

 

an obsolete recording of an event; this is a memory, 

warped in reuse until the tape snaps. Enjamb. Cut in.

I am a Vampire / I suck and I spit

 

The heat wave killed off all the grass in the parks to straw 

& burned the leaves off the trees 

& it looks like autumn but it’s 30 degrees at 8am & we’re all doomed. 

 

After 5pm I walk up through Pimlico and Victoria into Hyde Park 

& sit in the Rose Garden & read Deceit by Yuri Felsen & enjoy it 

despite the fact that novels set without justified text 

drive me absolutely fucking nuts, the prose flickering off its edge 

like a candle in its death throes exhausting the wax. 

 

The context is all slippery, black ice over chewing gum stuck to uneven pavements. 

 

I feel like you’re driving me off my centre, like I’m shoving flowers 

through a glory hole & can’t understand the expectations of the situation, 

like I’m making more of everything & reality’s contraction won’t line up 

with the expanse. Might as well thrown the book in the Serpentine 

 

for all I’ve learned when you answer.

Shitposting is an in-progress project that uses queer flippancy, internet detritus, and old memes as frameworks for confessional lyric poetry about failed relationships, childhood trauma, and mental/physical sickness. 

JD Howse is the author of Just Meat Not God [Hem, 2022], Noises Again [Osmosis, 2022], and This is a Dagger [2017, 2019, 2022], as well as numerous zines, artist's books, and pamphlets. He runs PermeableBarrier and works in publishing. 

JD can be found at jdhowse.com or @jdhowse on instagram.

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Medusa

by Josh Vyrtz

Medusa is about looking and being turned into stone. Painful reflections, doom scrolling and stuffy rooms. A binge of algorithmic content presented to us in a language designed to absorb us. No solutions are presented, just more content to watch. 

Josh Vyrtz is an artist based in London and Stoke-on-Trent, working in performance and film. He is interested in digital ethnography and is engaged in an ongoing research project into the role that tech YouTubers play as gatekeepers in the production of contemporary culture. 

Josh can be found on instagram @josh.spinach

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sleeptalkingdreams

by JP Seabright

sleeptalkingdreams is a compilation of JP's own sleep talking picked up on a Sleep Cycle app over the course of the last year, mixed in with other found and home-made sounds.

 

JP Seabright (she/they) is a queer writer living in London. They have three pamphlets published: Fragments from Before the Fall: An Anthology of Post-Anthropocene Poetry by Beir Bua Press; the erotic memoir NO HOLDS BARRED  by Lupercalia Press, and GenderFux, a collaborative poetry pamphlet, by Nine Pens Press. MACHINATIONS, an experimental collaborative work exploring the life and work of Alan Turing is out later this year from Trickhouse Press, as is Be∞Cause, a microchap, from Ghost City Press. JP is Assistant Editor of Full House Literary Magazine, and has been nominated for both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

JP Can be found at https://jpseabright.com and via Twitter @errormessage. 

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The Deer

by Kris Rowland

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The Deer is a collaged narrative about communication, approaching difference and our potential to be creative and destructive. Originally a scene for a play, Kasper, it's been adapted to a graphic zine through handmade collage featuring a lot of sticky leaves. The scene is never and always performed. 

Kris Rowland is a London-based artist and a generic cat-loving gay. His work often sets out to reconstruct or interrogate social interactions such as job interviews (Claque),  online communication (Please Don’t Touch, White Stain)  & meeting for the first time (The Deer) to create temporal spaces where new possibilities emerge. The limitations of one format become the spaces in which these moments emerge in another i.e. In a digital space touch is impossible but within live performance it is a possibility.

Kris can be found at kristopherrowland.wordpress.com and @Kris_rowland on instagram

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Crystal and Clover

by Maria Sledmere

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Read it and Weep is an original Disney Channel movie from 2006, based on Julia DeVille’s' novel How My Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller. In the movie, our protagonist Jamie pens a journal that centres around an alternative universe in which her fictional alter-ego is powerful and irresistibly popular. Later, the success of the journal’s unexpected publication alienates Jamie from her classmates and best friends. The perfect girl gets out of control and consumes the real girl. Fiction and reality devour each other to tears. Read it and weep! I look for this phrase outside the fault-lines of ordinary speech. Maya Man’s read it and weep is a ‘live’ poem described as an ‘infinitely performed text’ and focuses on issues of performative (hyper)femininity, perfection and aesthetics through collage, found text and diary fragments. Serif and sans serif text, in white and various shades of pink, layers endlessly with emoji flourishes on a soft mocha background, mimicking the Instagram banal of ‘keep calm’ style affirmations (see also Man’s recent collection secrets from a girl, a browser-based work that spotlights the influence of social media on the cultural hegemony of feminine self-improvement), the no-place Starbucks ambience of introspective hypergraphia. Since discovering the work earlier this summer, I have returned to it endlessly. Sometimes I leave it on running while doing other things, only to reopen the tab to reams of more text. There’s something disturbing about the infinite performance, the run-on. It’s like a Nintendog or Tamagotchi you forgot to feed; a Snake that won’t stop scrolling, having imbibed too many cycles of internet oestrogen; an unstoppable virus. A really hungry girl living in your browser.

 

While the Disney movie which is its namesake features chatrooms and the disintegration of fact and fiction, it relies on a wholesome foundation of authenticity, trust and self-disclosure (sealed with a kiss). Maya Man’s work, on the other hand, forges aleatory narratives from the playground of ‘internet trash’. The present-tense of an idle browser does the work of mashing and composting narrative together. Watching the text appear, I’m met with a feeling of voyeurism and body doubling, as if I am looking over my own shoulder while typing. Many of the sentences and fragments are uncomfortably familiar, in a cross-generational way, as though sifted from my own LiveJournal or Tumblr effluvia. The effect isn’t nostalgic but rather reconstituted through performance, citation and the ongoing dialogue of recontextualisation. Much of the text is fished from diverse sources: from Donna Haraway’s writing on cyborgs to contemporary think pieces on technology and digital cultures, links to soft exhibitions and Cathy Park Hong’s iconic Minor Feelings. Some of the lines are themselves hyperlinks, taking us direct to the source. But this is more than a dense web of citation. It’s a performance of emotional cognition as such, manifest in the hyperpalimpsest of the confessional post-internet poem. Our speedy brains trying to think shit. There is no ‘unlocking’ some primal meaning here. As the title implies: read it and weep. Read it and…react. Read it and heart, read it and zany face, read it and upside-down-smile-oblivion. Love! Very quickly, I find myself deeply involved in the confessional loop: imagining the sticky detritus of everything said online as part of a frangible masternarrative, sucking itself down the drain of Discourse. Girlhood’s whirlpool. All the things the feminised body is accused of — leakiness, excess and volatility — yield in Man’s coding impossibility through an infinitely seductive literary form. Is this confession, hypertext or scripture?

 

What does it mean to confess ‘the internet’ as both infrastructure and discursive plenitude — the junk food of endless, empty nourishment? And to write these confessions direct on the internet? I’m reminded of a line from Dana Ward’s The Crisis of Infinite Worlds (2013): ‘Teen Vogue has described the violent establishment of heaven on earth as the sun coming out with no clouds the last time’. This is girlhood’s apocalypse. Ruth Radelet of Chromatics singing ‘Shadow’ — ‘For the last time’ — in Twin Peaks: The Return (2017). I would totally believe this solar oblivion if I read it in Teen Vogue, not knowing fashion from authority. The sun shines out the ass of everything once said on the internet. As long as the webpage runs, there’s always more to come; it keeps shitting these textual materials of the infinite. The fantasy of the endless net is also a fantasy of entrapment. But there is no centre to this web, and not all the lines are legible. What does it mean to ‘read’ read it and weep? I feel intensely summoned into the alter-world of some kind of ur-Girl (nay, It Girl) who curated it. Anatomy of identity traced in variable lettering. The poem pokes at internet culture (‘the TikTok musical industrial complex’), dating (‘But I don’t like that he’s into drugs’), online trends in fashion and gender (‘bimbos of today’, ‘the influencer industry’), friendship and the struggle for self-definition. The lines jostle for attention in a game of typographical value. It feels redundant to point out that ~the personal~ is deeply woven with the economic, the algorithmic, the patriarchal and Big Tech theology. Redundant because we (by whom I mean, a reader familiar with the sources at play here) experience self, as if to say self was possible, as just this very impasto of cultural pressures. With some level of excess — lol that I wanna say jouissance – Maya Man slicks this thiccly layered, slightly toxic self all over your screen. Fuck minimalism. Gender as clickbait ontology forever.

 

We might contextualise read it and weep within a longer history of post-internet ‘gurlesque’ and its disruption of the confessional through techniques of performance, collage and humour. Arielle Greenberg, who coined the term, describes it as ‘a conscious mash-up and nod to other literary theories and cultural phenomena including the grotesque, the carnivalesque, burlesque, and riot grrl’, encompassing ‘work which performs femininity in a campy or overtly mocking manner, risking being inappropriate, outlandish, even repulsive’. The gurlesque is itself a frankenstein assemblage of existing work, just as read it and weep beckons you to the text through the interplay of gendered, cultural, capital and digital matters. You don’t so much read as glide, meander, navigate, stumble around it. I have this flashback to Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ playing at the Magnum skating rink in Irvine (which you can now watch being demolished). Probably I had pigtails and tucked flared jeans into my too-small boots; probably on ice, I forgot how to use my legs. I fell and saw god. I never learned to dance like a girl, so I fell over. I wanted to go back on Neopets and be anonymous, genderless, everyone. Did we ever lose the distinction between earth, heaven and the internet?

 

This failure of distinction and code-learning results in a weeping wound. It begs to be written into, tended. ‘I must love my nothingness’, writes Simone Weil, quoted by the poet Maï Ivfjall on Twitter. read it and weep is a conscious mashup of tumblr girl culture and all its baroque proliferations of suffering, introspection and indeterminacy (see podcasts Hate Fiction, Internet Aesthetic or The Polyester Podcast for more on this). Indeterminacy is baked into its very form. The violent, electric establishment of too much writing.

 

I’ve said this is a poem, but it’s been auctioned and exhibited as an artwork. The artist and poet Bunny Rogers (herself an early purveyor of a post-internet gurlesque, whose cryptic poetry dumps offer abysses of digital gender performance) makes a distinction between the kinds of exposure and intimacy found in art and poetry. In a 2020 interview with Thomas D. Trummer at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Rogers admits:

 

Poetry is more humiliating, for sure. When making art you can distance yourself. You can separate—you can make something and step away from it and say “that’s done.” But with writing it feels much more brazen. […] that’s part of why art’s so appealing to me, because you’re able to say things and then feel some sort of protection, you know? That it’s still shrouded in this encoding or mystery or whatever…

 

Embedded in the work of art is the possibility of refusal. That’s not what I meant at all. You’re reading too much into it. Trummer suggests that ‘poetry seems to be more connected or embedded in time, in terms of an event’. Every time I refresh the screen of read it and weep I restart the possibilities of an event. It is a poem in ‘run-time’ and one that never ends; one which can’t be crystallised in a single line, burning my ears or eyes. How could you exhaust it? Somehow, Man’s work hybridises the visual and poetic to embody both brazenness, shame and withdrawal. In lieu of static collage, we have constant textual emergence, the lightplay of screentext. The piece dramatises the act of writing as the command drive of ‘generative experience’. Content proliferates. A lowkey diary entry bears aesthetic equivalence to high theory. Pink feasts on latte data. Text is buried beneath text; selves rewrite selves. There’s no distance between what I wrote five years ago and yesterday’s tweet. In a sense, everything is humiliating. Time rewires through the glimmering neurons of linguistic stimulus.

 

Here, the dopamine of ‘posting’ is supplanted by the saturation of text as weathering density. It can’t help itself; it just keeps happening, as if governed by unknowable, esoteric systems. Affect, meaning and voice overwhelm as particle clusters of the original event and context of their source appearance. Why does this resonate so much with me? I love the static build-up of a blog: how its posts gather dust, the way a link is so contingent; the implicit webtree from which fragile jewels may be plucked and sifted. Here however, overlay casts everything into permanent simultaneity. Sometimes my addled brain sees the text not as language but the stylised typography of a temporary furniture, a diagram of atmospheric pressure, a chaos of isobars. The ornamentation of infinite graffiti on a schoolyard mystic writing pad. Freudian awe. I’m kind of paralysed in the desire to swipe or reset. I stick with memory’s excess.

 

As video content gets all the algorithmic clout of our current moment of reels and stories, read it and weep challenges the grooves and rhythms of reading: in turn, challenging how selves (and in particular, girl-selves) are (re)written online. The title is a provocation and imperative. What is the ‘it’ here? Human capital? Gender capital? Affective value? The creator economy? The sum total of everything the artist read on the internet during the years of composition? The artwork itself, and who now owns it? The possibilities of meaning which cluster, fall and blur between the lines? Where to put this pain, the ‘it’: the singularity formed from all the text it had swallowed. Whose feminine abjection, whose weep-worthy lines, whose diary, whose heartbreak and humiliation, whose internet (sub)culture does ‘it’ belong to? In reading this, we are mourning something, but it doesn’t integrate into some complete, developmental ‘whole’. Girlhood itself folds into what Sianne Ngai calls ‘the cute’ and its aestheticization of the ‘minor’. Maya Man gives us a hyperobjective girlhood, whose massively distributed textuality is this self-regenerating vibe-emulsion: only phasing briefly into anything so much as a writerly identity, a confessional voice, a critical avenue or a Mary Sue. ‘I want to live a life worth writing about’. What’s the residue of this languid practice-as-research for life? Desire, fantasy and the wound we keep poking with hex codes and glowing keys.

 

*

 

read it and weep can be viewed for free at readitandweep.live.

Crystal and Clover forms a hyperpastoral of collage, illustration and screenshots, offering an immersive ‘infrascapes’ in which our scenes of digital dwelling interact with moments of intimacy etched in text and image. In a time of circadian suspension — lockdown, insomnia, precarious labour — what markers of Nature, weather, linguistic detritus or gestural line mark time? Crystal and Clover marks an overgrowth of dailiness leaning thoroughly into the romance of error, dreaming, zoomland and shimmer’s intensity.

 

Stay Weird Infinity Girlhood is an essay review exploring Maya Man’s ‘infinitely performed text’, Read it and Weep. As Man’s work (available for free online) is framed as a mobius turning between inside and outside, this essay considers the densities of confession and citation as performative enactments of a digital gurlesque. Pondering what’s at stake in framing the text as poem versus artwork, Sledmere explore the politics of excess and proliferation at work in the piece, the phenomenology of a ‘run-on’ reading and the affective economies of its content. Ultimately, Sledmere argues that Read it and Weep challenges the grooves of post-internet ‘reading’ by endlessly rewriting the archival stimuli of ‘self’ within an overlay of simultaneous experience.

 

Maria Sledmere is an artist and poet who lives and teaches in Glasgow. She is editor-in-chief of SPAM Press and a member of A+E Collective. Her most recent books are Sans Soleil, with fred spoliar (Face Press/Mermaid Motel, 2022), String Feeling (Erotoplasty Editions, 2022) and The Luna Erratum (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2021).

 

Maria can be found @cherry_melancholic on instagram or @mariaxrose on twitter

Puzzle (Dissected Maps)
Volume 23: Spikes
Bolted (3 Volumes)
Volume 9: Dust

Volumes is a series that began during the Covid-19 pandemic. This ongoing project employs a variety of methods to destroy, permanently damage or otherwise reconstitute the twenty-four volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th Edition, 1929).

 

Paul Ingram is the author of a book of poems, Flat Earth (Contraband Books). His work has also appeared in Tentacular, Erotoplasty, Hollow Earth Review, Pamenar Press Online Magazine and Babel Tower Notice Board. He has written about art and aesthetics for 3:AM Magazine, Dada/Surrealism and Historical Materialism.

 

Paul can be found @scabsarerats on twitter and instagram

•   do you long for a 2010 version of the music in an airport lounge from before you were born

•   what if you missed the nostalgic cultural zeitgeist the first time around

•   can you miss what you never knew?

 

Vaporwave is a microgenre of electronic music, a visual art style, and an Internet meme that emerged in the early 2010s. It is defined partly by its slowed-down, chopped and screwed samples of smooth jazz, elevator, R&B, and lounge music from the 1980s and 1990s.[1]

 

we can access 

everything now

all at once

wayback machine 

time travel

let's go where

the algorithms

can't find us

 

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web founded by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. Created in 1996 and launched to the public in 2001, it allows the user to go "back in time" and see how websites looked in the past.[2]

 

•   remember when facebook wasn't just for old people and racists?

•   remember when people could be afk, brb, online, you have company?

•   remember when the dial up noise happened?

 

Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) by dialling a telephone number on a conventional telephone line.[3]

 

if you remember

this you were born

in a particular decade

or been to a charity shop

or your grandparents' house

it's almost like

memory means little

and nostalgia

is a lie

_________________________________

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporwave, accessed 22nd April 2022.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayback_Machine, accessed 22nd April 2022

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dial-up_Internet_access, accessed 22nd April 2022

nostalgic for the heyday of vaporwave is both a look at forms of nostalgia on the internet and in pop culture currently, and a personal attack on Dunlop’s own habit of listening to vaporwave mixes on YouTube despite never having listened to it in the early 2010s. It also comes from conversations their colleagues about what we respectively remember about the 'old' internet and the fact nobody remembers the same things.

 

Siobhan Dunlop (they/them) is a UK-based poet with poems in 404 Ink, Impossible Archetype, Queerlings, Streetcake Magazine, and elsewhere. Recently two of their poems were part of the VERY ONLINE digital anthology. Their micro-chap Glitching Al Pacino (2022) is published by Ghost City Press. They can be found on Twitter as @fiendfull talking about poems, tech, and Neopets.

 

Siobhan can be found @fiendfull on both Twitter and Instagram.

Polygon_Window_-_Surfing_on_Sine_Waves.jpeg

Heavy Metal

by Theodoros Chiotis

tarnishing in air and moisture / the material produces // pink and purple // blue and
yellow  // but casts no shadow / this is where / there should be something else // the
plinth on the roof rots away // white phosphorus on fire upon contact with air / this is how
/ a dog no longer believes the straws / lining its kennel are real / the sequestrum
eventually separating //  after a nice bit of porn / the dead twin brother asks for his name
back / it’s the twenty-third of September / and the rooms buzz / Cassandra weaves gold /
sand fills up the bank vault / the two white worms purse their teethless / mouths in
imitation / are they talking about kids / are they anti-kid // I can’t understand a word of it
// reverse it / no end no / beginning no end // it’s all in the mix / three months / every day
/ doing it all wrong / something wrong with / my brain / Cassandra weaves a god / reverse
it / the piano swinging / coming close enough alone / is not enough for two nuclei // to
fuse // the eyelids not yet interred / not until the last one is out / here is my fossy jaw / it’s
you // you cunts / the owner’s absence laid out / for all to see / there is no fixed duration /
I tried my best until / I started going mad until  / I started going // anti-kid // until I
started going / mad with the mirrors / on the stage / without you this echo / spreads like
lichen / the fan blades cut into the thick air / I just walk into walls / the heat dense enough
/ to break your nose / huh / turn the pages of the Book / of the Dead / hear the shadows /
speak to you / one at a time / it’s you / you cunts / it's nice / when nobody knows / who
you are / the world put / back into the computer / it’s the nice thing / to do / huh.

Heavy Metal is an attempt to transcribe in words the tracking as exemplified by the use of the Casio FZ-1 sampler by Aphex Twin in ‘Quoth’ (from Surfing on Sine Waves, 1993)

 

Theodoros Chiotis is the editor and translator of the anthology Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis (Penned in the Margins, 2015). Other publications include Screen (in collaboration with photographer Nikolas Ventourakis; Paper Tigers Books, 2017) and limit.less: towards an assembly of the sick (Litmus, 2017). His work has appeared in Litmus, Harana, Streetcake, Datableed, Versification, Birmingham Poetry Journal, Magma, Forward Book of Poetry 2017, Adventures in Form, Austerity Measures, Shearsman, aglimpseof, Pamenar, Visual Verse, lyrikline, Otoliths, amongst others. He is a member of the editorial board of the Greek literary magazine [φρμκ] and contributing editor for Hotel magazine. His project Mutualised Archives, an ongoing performative interdisciplinary work, received the Dot Award by the Institute for the Future of Book and Bournemouth University; he has also been awarded a High Commendation from the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 2017.

 

Theodoros can be found on twitter @selfcoding.

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