top of page

January 2024

Guest Edited by Al Anderson and Josh Wirz

with work from

Al Anderson, Chloe Proctor, Godefroy Dronsart, Gustavo Gómez-Mejía, HVAC, Ilias Tsagas,

JD Howse, Jac Common, Josh Wirz, Kieran Devlin, Meghann Boltz, Rosie Quattromini

and an announcement from PermeableBarrier and Cat Chong


The Horned Gospels

by Al Anderson

O eyeless God of the global markets 

I am capable of only so many prevarications 

I despise your testaments to a better masculinity 

a man’s death bears on nothing but line graphs

keep the pale-lilac homosociality 

to Camberwell supper clubs



there is a rust coloured mist

over all you cherish   

the thing playing me

ends after a stranger’s fingers

and some indifferent tenderness

get a whiff of that, that

thirty-something flirting  

with that emo-virgin transference 

the guitar lick summons

up moonlit mangroves


the folds of his body shrouded by silt 

Fuck, baby I love you 

you trot to what’s left of me 

Ram it is dark

but not that dark

dearth of the sacred 

comes off as a rage quit 

your horns are sharp 

but not that sharp 


there is something unrequited in the ecstatic 

purple of your cheeks  

everything that’s happened 

is a shredded xerox saying 

thanks for happening

please exit through the

decommissioned canteen which 

smells of nothing remotely organic 


just autocracy

in a goofy tie with coffee breath  

the aptitude for murder no less diminished 

even this song 

is going to get you charged 

and charged 


Like, damn, there it is there

is sunset 


threaded through  Hap   iness

scratched just below the emergency exit sign 

sometimes it’s the last bus out of town 

a pensive boy, waiting to arrive 


lime green beam scanning the wrong end of the coast 

looking to suck up a man who is not me 

whose face resembles mine in the dark 

Ram, your horns are showing, damn 


a muffled sob animating the  

the most debased traces of myself   

you are but a navy tongue probing 

whatever organic beats against

the window tonight 


so much less beautiful 

all the more stupid 


you lonely asphyxiwank of a boy

won’t you ever die? 

you are no man 

if only because I could not take 

the allegory far enough 


heaved backwards through a soft play area 

the heart gives off a burning printer smell  

everything disappears into an emerald tint 

urgency is like light its surplus is indistinguishable

from its loss 


you’re no one until someone spits on you

there is nothing more human than

jerking it to a photograph 

of someone dead or no longer beautiful

the butcher’s rack of former friends

learn to bear the stink of yourself 



you spurt

something teenage 


you somersault 

over the moon 

most gods could only dream 


in lieu of feeling you’ve a small green flame 

lighting up a crumbling coastal hotel 

you are no God

as you do 

but do not dream 


it is the first time in forever

it feels awful

to have ever caressed you with transaction

The Horned Gospels emerged from a now semi-abandoned research project into ekphrasis and God-building in contemporary internet culture. The ram in question appeared to me in a dream, after I bore his countenance before the Kushite ram-sphinx at the British Museum, and dictated many of the lines here.

Al Anderson writes poems and essays. Recent poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in, Lud Gang, Modern Queer Poets, A.N.U.S mag and Wonder. His scholarly commissions include papers for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Barber Institute at the University of Birmingham and the Methodist Art Collection. He has an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and is co-manager, and director of the events programs, at Housmans Bookshop in London.


Al can be found at @al__anderson on instagram



by Chloe Proctor

As fact would have it Is that so Sure  
it is and she’s been the same woman, sure 
Enamoured with the relentless Mottled 
by nomenclature Not very good at words 
but the point stands Definite as statistics 
would have you believe in endocrine probity 
or things coming to a natural end, just so 
Aerosol approaching cognition hanging there 
with microsolidity A recent obsession with 
osteosarcoma of the cranium as especially  
obscene pathology Touch of erotics  
As though able to gauge the sensation  
Pathology of thought measurable 
in calcium protrusions Touch of  
erotics in grotesque inadequacy of  
skull, sure Haunted by centipedes too 
Other arthropods Are you not doing the 
exact same thing
abstruse language weaver 
sanctifying misunderstanding? For the fuck 
of it? Fuck is an intensity, not an event 
Pillaring linguistics. Smart coded. Fact 
coded. I just don’t want to know. 
Just kinda sort of imho Softening the edges  
of the thing I feel compelled to propel 
into the commentary Dangling modifiers 
No data. 
Literal tit contrails in the troposphere 
Bract-shaped defining my features as  
Rubenesque Flemish? Male? knowing  
they’re stored in mobile recycle bins 
or revisited without my presence, physical 
or theoretical Hoping so Quench-ghost 
Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum 
is captured as image of text, and not 
flora itself Bookmark of something unlikely 
to be returned to To know it Unactioned 
Trust as in belief in the truth of It isn’t  

Exoskeletal is a poem about experiencing the state between information and understanding. It is expressed as a hyperactive thought process which drags intrusive thought and contextualising phenomena together to form a protective barrier between confusion and unwanted clarity.

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. She was 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. Her debut collection Terra Forming is available from Broken Sleep Books. 

Chloe can be found on Instagram @chloproc


Three Poems

by Godefroy Dronsart



The voice on stage like a drum beat  

in Debussy fits, cigarette paper pierced 

by the inquisitive finger 


The vision itself an erasure poem spilling 

in the pages of the newspaper,  

mushy cartoon, spy-rush lettering  

of the well-known  

Choke & Chuckle duo. 


Toy in motion  

& repetition 

& variation 

& silly Cold War drawings 

& repetition 

& monster movie culture 

& reverb algorithms 

& repetition 




Unutterable disappointment: 

the burrow of cosmic historicity 


Deleuze’s door-ajar tones  

keep stirring in my stomach. 


Sometimes I repeat/rehearse part 

of his Collège de France segment cooking  

dinner, or in the street, or in a corridor 

at work. 


Askew rhythm playing 

at being said for the first time  

in the movie theater, at being 

afraid of the monster for the first time,  


total control 


rocked to sleep  

by tender claws 

tentacular in turn. 



the triangle-machine rests 

on four half-hemispheres,  


HAEMOPHILIAC machine swaddled 

in cotton –  


that is how long it took for the MUMMY 

to happen! 


The state apparatus wins the race 


The unmanageable structure 

sorts all of this out efficiently 

paragraph by paragraph. 


Or, if you prefer: 


triangle             pyramid                state               mummy 

 ------------    =    ------------    =    ------------    =    ------------                 

four halves        square                territory            screen 










These Three Poems come from a sequence of poems stemming from the translation of a five-minute Deleuze fragment found on Youtube where he discusses the famous Freudian case, the Wolfman. Having become haunted by this fragment some time ago, Dronsart translated it to English and decided to use every segment as a poem title, turning a random online meeting into a semi-obsessional creative framework.

Godefroy Dronsart is the author of the experimental chapbook The Manual (Sweat-Drenched Press, 2020). His poems and sound pieces have been published in various publications  such as the Babel Tower NoticeBoard, Permeable Barrier, Postscript, Paris Lit Ups, the Osmosis Press Blog and others.

Godefroy can be found on twitter and instagram @OzoneGrass


Hantologie de bannières

by Gustavo Gómez-Mejía


Hantologie de bannières originates from an archive of screenshots that Gómez-Mejía collected for his research, working as a media scholar in the field of Internet studies. He began making cut-ups and collages from these materials, exploring the ways that the texturalities of the screen spontaneously fit together. For promotional or archeological purposes, the entire Internet could become a secretly scrollable fictional website filled with (re)animated GIF banners advertising its own range of obsolescent occulocentric rituals, routines and ruins. 

Gustavo Gómez-Mejía is a media studies scholar and a creative research practitioner. His interests include digital cultures and semiology – topics to which he has devoted a series of academic articles. Some of his phone-made collages and concrete poetry exercises can be found on Instagram. He was born in Colombia and he currently lives and works in France.

Gustavo can be found on instagram @gustavo.gomez.mejia 

Screenshot 2023-12-03 at 18.40.31.png



3MP4THY "3MP4THY.mp4" arose from a consideration on the human tendency to apply attachment and emotions onto inanimate objects, and draws upon liminal and found footage aesthetics. 

HVAC can be found at @finestindustrialsolutions on youtube and @HVAC on soundcloud


Living Quietly

by Ilias Tsagas

Hostile reception,

I enter my username

to skip protocols




Transient clearing

in the digital network,

a new follower




Dimly lit by screens

gamers take their positions

virtual and real

Living Quietly is a brief poem formed from three haiku, each themselves a further measure of brevity. The work aims to depict the internet as a space in which to live quietly on the periphery of things. 

Ilias Tsagas Ilias Tsagas is a Greek poet writing in English as a second language. His poems have appeared in journals like: Apogee, AMBIT, Poetry Wales, SAND, FU Review, The Shanghai Literary Review, Tokyo Poetry, Plumwood Mountain and elsewhere. Ilias will be an Artist in Residence at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2024.

Ilias can be found on instagram @ilias.tsagas or linktree @iliastsagas


The Rite of Spring

by JD Howse

The Rite of Spring is a multi-channel video with narration, discussing body fascism, dysmorphia, observation, control, and Bananarama. It can be watched on youtube, just like your favourite music videos and those video essayists you have a weird parasocial relationship with and should probably stop giving money to on patreon. 

JD Howse is from London and lives in London. He runs PermeableBarrier and works in print production. He is the author of A Dead Elk, Just Meat Not God, Noises Again, This is a Dagger, and the as-yet unpublished Proteus. He hates writing bios but he formatted his journal so that everyone had to have one so this is his own fault. 

JD can be found on instagram @jdhowse or at

Screenshot 2023-12-20 at 13.14.42.png

comments I didn’t post

because my limited understanding

of musical theory

would become obvious to strangers

by Jac Common

thumbnail_comments I didn’t post because  my limited understanding of musical theory would

comments I didn’t post because my limited understanding of musical theory would become obvious to strangers comes out of a relatively unedited document of notes that Common almost posted as comments on explainer videos of instruments. The echo of the drone of pipe organs or huge bells follows the same temporal trajectory as their (not) online paranoia. This piece is something like that echo.

Jac Common is a writer from Nottingham, living in London. Their academic, critical, and poetic work is out in several places.

Jac can be found on linktree @jac_common

Screenshot 2023-12-20 at 13.13.02.png


by JOsh WIRZ

18/12/22 is a recording of a live streamed performance that I carried out on Instagram on 18/12/22. It is part of an ongoing series that explores the formal possibilities of going live and asks what is the relevance of going live in the current moment. 18/12/22 was recorded on the day of the 2022 Football World cup. Today is not that day. This is a stale echo of those 90 minutes. Not live, not FOMO, but IMO, I missed out. Within this live stream, the viewer existed in a dual state: present yet inactive, a participant yet a bystander. Their numbered presence, responsible for the cultural reach of this video. Hunch forward and linger at my shoulder, as I pan from collective live cultural moment experience to collective live cultural moment experience. This is a traditional broadcast.


Josh Wirz [pronounced vee-ur-tz] is an interdisciplinary artist of Swiss/British heritage based in Glasgow. His work is focused on understanding the politics of social media content algorithms, masculinity, and the creative potential of ‘going live’ online.

Josh can be found at @buywirz on instagram and at

Screenshot 2023-12-20 at

Hanging Up

by Kieran Devlin

hanging up is a replication of a time and experience that no longer exists. Between the start of the twenty-first century and the end of its first decade, specialised forums gave way under the addictive power of corporate software; their idiosyncratic, explicitly hierarchical, nostalgic and warmly insular communities and cultures were impossible to paste across to the new systems. As products of their time, these forums were often sites thick with irony and nostalgia. This piece is interested in occupying the serious emotional experience and rough landscape of a time and place that should not be reduced to irony or nostalgia.

Kieran Devlin is a writer from Hertfordshire. He studied to postgraduate level at the University of East Anglia, writing his MA dissertation on the novels of B.S. Johnson. He lives in London.

Kieran can be found on instagram @kierandevlin_, threads @kierandevlin_, or twitter @KieranD

Last Rites_Permeable Barrier.png

Last Rites
by Meghann Boltz

Last Rites is a digital collage that seeks to examine the impact of online spaces inhabited by the final words of the dead, and the uncanny way in which they haunt the Internet. While the couplet of tweets that serve as the focal point of the piece are fairly innocuous on their own, within the context of the death of their author (and their proximity to the time of death), they become absurd. The absurdity is further exaggerated by the Tumblr girl color palette, a glitch-like repetition of images, and the juxtaposition of the sacred and profane.This blending of the unserious and the poignant offers the opportunity to reflect on the ways in which our collective grief is continuously processed and disseminated in the current era of social media, and how we might place what feels very specific to this century, within a broader historical framework.

Meghann Boltz is a poet and the author of the chapbooks rebel/blonde (Bottlecap Press, 2018) and Cautionary Tale (blush lit, 2020). Her latest chapbook, True Romance, was released earlier this year from Ultra Violet, a micro press where she is editor.  

Meghann can be found on instagram @meghann__boltz


Three Poems
by Rosie Quattromini



you have memorised the key words and definitions

repeat them into my mouth

it is only possible to see yourself in greyscale

like a film that’s trying to be french


the ghosts say they are waking up to trauma

the ghosts are waking to the sound of your trauma


ghost you must rest you must put aside your cares

someone walks “over” your “grave” or maybe into your “shadow body self”


the rules of the “shadow body self” are numerous and many

can you memorise the terms and conditions

repeat them into my mouth

the “shadow body self” allows us to explore the lives we could have had


look in on the "shadow body self" does she

need water? food? does she need external stimulus?


the problems of the "shadow body self" are not

your own; you can leave them at any time

in honour of your own wellness and self being


do not confuse the "shadow body self" by showing

affection do not confuse them with understanding


the secret is you are your own “shadow body self”

and the way to step into the outline of the “shadow body self”

does indeed mean

to touch it


i learnt to handle pain when it was

extremely pure and extremely cerebral

fortunately nothing here is free until april

which will be sooner than you know it


i have done everything i could to escape my biography

it is the summer

when december is over we will know if this thing works


in a dream all the characters are really you

on the outside at least all moments are the same

& everything happens at once


that dog became a state of mind


setting up pictures in the brain

a balance of these extracts

from a distant nearby place

positioning in verse:

                                    the world as a system of signs to denote meaning

                                    the world as a sensory intrusion

                                    the world as an ok kind of planet

transcript of two pages of lined paper torn from a notebook

found underneath the spare bed on ferdinand street, august 2017 (AUTHOR UNKNOWN)

person I really

want to be with

not one I’m stuck

newer of the two.

once he comes forward

he’ll come forward

working by july/aug

move 1     2     decays


            friday     —    [____] HIT




6/1/75 Simone


Rob > Robert >

(OCT) meet someone new

“keep communicating”…..

by oct it will lift off


keep it light —



Simone (Andrea)

elemen of confusion



left out on a unit

person feels as strongly

as I do But not ready

to commit like I am

quite as

6-8 wks (won’t be fully sorted

sort their situation

  • family dynamic






that person


work with

be a look


not good

at dealing with

issues outside the box.

“Patience” — dig deeper

6-8 wks not fully resolved

but much better

don’t make a decision

took a step back -good- also

take an emotional

step back

These Three Poems these poems are a part collage, part lyric contructions. They explore, partly through found text, the experiances of yearning, desire and personhood today, in our ever more interconnected and fraught digitial worlds.

Rosie Quattromini is a writer from Norwich, now based in London. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, and works in publishing. 


Rosie can be found at @aphextwinfantasy on instagram and @RosieThinksThis on twitter

Starting in 2024, Permeable Barrier will begin an occasional program of physical publications.

The aim is to bring into print texts that work with innovation, hybridity, and strangeness;

to provide a platform for work which defies traditional categorisation and exists

in the in-between spaces of literature, media, and art.

There is no better book to demonstrate these ideals than our first publication, due in February 2024:

Dear Lettera 32 is a text that revels in contradictions,

and in doing so gives the lie to our comfortable assumptions about the act of writing in and of itself.

Refusing to capitulate to the reassurances of singular address,

Cat Chong draws from the world around them to create a kaleidoscope of hope and longing,

divinity and corruption, esoterica and hypermodernity.


Confessional, lyrical, yet densely packed with theory,

Chong uses an encounter with a typewriter as the inspiration

for a migration across the possibilities of poetry.


The resulting work is a deeply readable yet visually jarring text that evades easy categorisation.

Is this an epistolary novel? A diary? A poem?

Chong inhabits multiple spaces while rejecting the easy categorisation that any of them might offer,

instead opening up their work to the creative possibility of discomfort.

Dear Lettera 32 will launch with an event at Housmans Radical Bookshop on 16/02/2024,

[CLICK HERE] to visit the Housmans website and book a ticket and reserve a copy.


As a child, I asked for a typewriter for my 10th birthday. I would slowly take the hard case off of the old Underwood everyday in an act of ceremony. It became a sacred technology, something that held while transmuting thoughts otherwise beyond my capacity to articulate. An oracle. A talisman. It is where lyric found me. Cat Chong’s Dear Lettera 32 has this same divining quality. It sucks me in, and I feel transported by the textural language in its disrupting yet comforting familiarity. It is ever-changing, mobile. It asks me to be languidly alert, brilliantly read through the body in all its limits and possibilities “with magic and the poem” pressed up against it, “cast in subdermal frequencies”. It makes me want to learn to write again, to be “witness to vulnerability with every mark.”


Cassandra Troyan

In their conversation with JD Howse, Cat Chong asks if Dear Lettera 32 reads like a retaliation. But here, left to their own device - the typewriter - the poet writes themselves through, into, and out of microagressions, crip theory, citation, and embodiment, in a crushing juxtaposition of density and blankness. And in this breath-denial and linelessness, the text asks how it could become a form of accountability; how do we hold people to account? How do we give an account of ourselves? Throughout the compressed orientations of the prose poems, dreams recur as relationality, violence, a kind of consciousness, and a possible alternate space of escape. In this multiplicity, turning away and back towards the realness of poetry, Chong writes a will to go on, go on, go on; to hope.

Prudence Bussey-Chamberlaine

In beginning Cat Chong’s Dear Lettera 32 the reader must straight away bend under the weight of the typewriter, learning the bunch and give of each page as crowded text gives way to blank space. This book is mired in isolation, reaching out in its intertextuality to avoid any individual voice to dominate, always in conversation and perhaps most of all when lonely. Chong begins one letter ‘I am accumulating. text’: text which reads both as curse and blessing, trauma and hex, envying the ‘ability to say nothing’. The speaker accuses and pleads with their subject/s, unspooling and unsure of the poem’s own nature, claiming ‘no desire to resemble’, nonetheless – or perhaps accordingly – capable of illuminating and spitting on the hostile power structures bearing down here and everywhere. This is vital work.

Kat Sinclair

Dear Lettera 32

by Cat Chong

JH: I wanted to start by talking about the concept of a work being finished. While you were writing Dear Lettera 32, you ‘finished’ the text on three different occasions, only to feel compelled to pick it up again and add more to it; this is how we ended up having the work in four sections, each section break represents a failed attempt to finish the poem. It was something we spoke about a lot while you were in the process of composing Dear Lettera, with you asking me how you would know when the work was finished, a question I was never really able to answer. I remember sending you pages from Parallel Movement of the Hands, John Ashbery’s posthumous collection of ‘unfinished longer works’ and particularly the quotation ‘I am disturbed that it’s incomplete, but maybe that’s good.’ 


I wonder if you could talk about your relationship with finality and the text’s relationship with finality? Dear Lettera 32 is now being published as a book, but why did you feel the end of the fourth section was the correct place to conclude it, and do you think a work so deeply involved with themes of trauma, pain, and hurt can ever truly conclude?


CC: In Parallel Movement of the Hands, Ben Lerner talks about Ashbery’s book as ‘“hymn to possibility,” to borrow a phrase Ashbery used when reviewing Gertrude Stein in 1957, a hymn to ongoingness’ which is to say that I think this book’s publication as a material object finishes the poem off. Throughout the process I kept being told the project wasn’t over and even now I don’t think it’s done, but I wanted to write through the specific violences I/we were encountering till it felt easier to breathe; I realise I’ve probably failed any kind of resolute affective valences but I think the desire to stop falling like the wounded in the direction of their wound (to borrow Denise Riley) was, in some sense, concluded, even if the traces of those impacts vibrate way beyond the end of the text; really, I don’t know if it’s going to feel finished till it’s gone.


JH: The subject matter of Dear Lettera 32 is deeply personal but you approach it with a wonderfully analytic and theoretical eye that allows what would otherwise be a closed text to open up into something much more ambiguous. What is your relationship to ambiguity and nuance, and how did you try to navigate the idea of writing the possibility of openness and difficulty into such a personal text? 


CC: I think I wanted to keep track of that kind of transmutation into language, into the analogue, or even within the process of the digital. It felt like a process of figuring out how the structures worked. The surface of the digital and of the typewriter held so much in common while remaining vastly different machines which both engaged with the linear shattering of time which occurs under conditions of trauma and distress. I think they both have a fascinating relationship to language as a form of memory. I’d never actually touched a typewriter before starting the project in 2020, I didn’t realise the paper wasn’t meant to endlessly coil around the carriage, I think some of that openness came from not being able to see more than one line that had been written on the paper so by the time I ran out of space, what unfurled was a very lucid encounter of isolation, grief, desire, and longing for an elseness. There’s a very, what I think, amusing oscillation between a lyric I and a consultation of the typewriter manual to figure out what its parts are called, how it comes apart, how to change the ribbons, and so on.


JH: You use the typewriter as a proxy figure in the book; it becomes audience and author, context and subject. At times ‘Dear Lettera 32’ is very directly standing in for ‘Dear [Various Unnamed Real-World Figures]’. It seems to me that whenever you decide to use a specific theme or structure or conceit in your writing, you do it with such multiplicity and in so many different ways, that any divide between the personal and the critical begins to break down. I wonder if this is an expression of your engagement with crip theory and how trauma [physical, medical, emotional, etc] can permeate every aspect of a life?


CC: At first the typewriter wasn’t mine; the address of an [Unnamed Real-World Figure] felt true as the machine was something borrowed which is why one appears as a gift at the end of the second section. I think the lack of critical/creative boundaries definitely does emerge out of the academic work I’ve tried to engage with on crip theory, queer studies, and medical humanities - by the time I was introduced to ideas around disability, gender, and genre I was already chronically ill and trying to figure out how to make undiagnosed chronic pain habitable amongst hostile medical and social institutions. Living inside the theory was something I could intimately feel. I think the multiplicity comes from the “theory” as much as there is any real divide, being at the end of our fingertips. Be it phenomenological or structural, pain is perceived in the body.


JH: and pain is perceived in the page too, visually Dear Lettera is a ‘difficult’ text in the way the words bunch up and blur together. Obviously this is illustrative of a learning process; of you learning to play the typewriter like an instrument, but I feel like there's a lot more you're achieving with the scripto-visuality of the work (to borrow a term from Redell Olsen.) 


CC: You’re right about the acoustic learning curve of the typewriter, and a large part of its density owes to kHarLaMoV's aNkLe: A Utopian Fantasy by Robert Majzels, which is one long prose sequence broken only by full stops. It’s a spell, there’s even a hex at its heart. It taught me how to write out of the kind of captivity pain, lockdown, and grief had given me, to occupy a counter-universe, an anti-gravity. I acknowledge that it’s a difficult script to read normatively, but I think that allows it to hold a capacity for being read slant, to encounter the text by cluster, or by verticality rather than in order from left to right. 


JH: Could you talk some more about people who influenced the text? Dear Lettera 32 is part of a canon of disabled poets composing on typewriters and incorporating the field of composition into the text itself; I know you and I are both fans of Hannah Weiner and Larry Eigner. The actual work is very intertextual, and incorporates your voracious consumption of poetry and theory directly into itself.


CC: I know we’ve talked about it a lot, about the relation between disability, language, and the process of writing. We’ve spoken at length about what an intersectional crip poetics might look like for us now, and about what accessible, liberatory, and joyful practices of composition, editing, and publishing can be. The list of tutelary spirits is long, Hannah Weiner, Bernadette Mayer, Anne Boyer (who’s Pulitzer winning book you very kindly gifted to me), Abi Palmer, to name a few, all let the practice of writing infuse the writing. I think it was March 18th 2021 when you sent me that gorgeous quote from page 132 of the Studying Hunger Journals; ‘Laugh because now I’m up to the typewriter dream where the whole set of keys come out as if in a drawer, the mechanisms are up above and you know I want a typewriter like this to fill my whole mouth up, the machine’s workings a giant sculpture, separate from the keys, a work to observe, it will intensify thought. [...] “Your name is written on it.”’ She was right about the percolation of thought moving through the instrument and the visceral dimensions accessible through the typewriter which hover over the field of language.


I’m glad the publication preserves the original, hand-done typesetting as well as including the quotations section at the back, as you wrote recently in your book Proetus: ‘I would like / to be as truthful / as possible’. As the typewriter is such an acoustic machine the writing process felt more like an act of listening, to the keys, to the sounds coming off the screen in lockdown, to the language being put into the air around me. These are my vibrations.


JD: There’s an interesting juxtaposition in the text between the presence of the typewriter, the influence of all these poets we love from the 70’s, placed against the omnipresent hypermodernity of social media. A lot of the references in the text are to livestreams on instagram, zoom, etc. It reminds me of Lana Del Rey ending her song The Greatest, which is full of personal and cultural nostalgia, with the lyric ‘oh, the livestream's almost on’ and singing it almost like a sigh, like ‘this is what reality has been replaced with.’ What role does social media play in the book and how do you reconcile this with the analogue?


CC: I’m sorry this answer took a moment to compose, I think the typewriter and the phone often feel like a juxtaposition because of their mechanical differences when they’re both still on the same continuum - our phones make the sound of hand-typed text and like the poets we love, watching poets over Zoom and Instagram Live is another way of being in the room together. I know it’s not the same as name-dropping an exhibition, painting, or sculpture  like O’Hara, musicians or poets like Hannah Weiner, or the artists (and their cats) that we count among our friends, as often revolutionary and communal as these acts are, but language has found ways of travelling through the air. Perhaps just as the typewritten text can be felt through the page our machines are connected even just by the practice of listening. We recently went to a podcast recording of an interview with Dionne Brand together, and when she said ‘I want accompaniment’ it felt true of our instruments of recording, be it our keyboards, touchscreens, or typewriters. I wanted to think through the shared musicality of our linguistic instruments, the percussive indentations of the keys against the carriage and the music emanating from the electrics.


JD: One of the phrases in the book I’m most struck by is the way that ‘is this a poem I’m writing to you’ transforms into ‘is this a monument I’m building to you.’ I think something that links our work is this paradoxical fascination with and ambivalence towards form, structure, genre, etc; I think we’re both obsessed with understanding the rules of these things, but only so we can understand how to break, alter, ignore, and subvert them. Dear Lettera 32 might be a poem, but it might be a collection of letters, a diary, an epistolary novel, a work of autobiography. What are your thoughts on how others might attempt to categorise the text?


CC: Can I ask you something here? Does Dear Lettera 32 feel like a retaliation? I’m not sure what genre that might be or whether hope, longing, desire, or survival have a default structure, but I’ve been working on genre theory for a while and I’m starting to think that a part of the ambivalence may be an apathy towards taxonomic legibility. For whom are the categories observed? This is to say, maybe it's a badly written novel.


JD: I guess that’s what you’re doing in the text; challenging the reader about their assumptions of how they will approach it, and in doing so challenging them to think about the subject matter, the events, the poetic persona, etc? It’s inviting, but it’s also combative. You call it a retaliation, and you’ve called it a hex before, and it feels like it could be comforting or confronting depending on how it is approached. 


This is going to be the first book published by PermeableBarrier, and there’s always an anxiety in launching a new press of not knowing where the book is going to go and who, if anyone, it will reach. I think that goes back to where we started, about knowing when the book is finished; is the book finished because it’s in the world or is that just another form of beginning, and one that you have less control over. I wonder if we could conclude here by you talking a bit about how you feel about people reading and interpreting your work?


CC: The ‘if anyone’ as a clause is comforting. I think when she was asked Dionne Brand said that a poem was finished because ‘it was’; I know the unsaid hangs over the language like a veil. At the level of interpretation she also acknowledged the universal as a ‘very contentious’ construct and I think I agree that I’m not writing after an imagined universal reader but engaging in the writing of a collection that is at once deeply personal while maintaining an openness for the resonance of the reader is an interestingly discursive project. Ultimately, the poem was a survival strategy amidst various hostile structures, actions, and entities and engaging in a sense overwhelmed by the reception of the language would be a form of rumination. Thank you for putting this book out, for approaching it with generosity.

JH: Thank you for allowing me to publish it, I hope readers find it as rewarding as a text as I do. 

you can reserve a copy of Dear Lettera 32

and a ticket to the launch [here]

bottom of page