This is the third in a new series of poems and writing commissioned for Art and Everything After. Poets and writers chose from a selection of new drawings called companions.Ms. Abendroth selected the image above. A full size image can be seen here.
According to Taste By Emily Abendroth
You were not a prominent man, per se, but you had about you the more than trace swagger of one who has been trained to hold court and to never abort a chance for managerial dominance. Nor for targeted flirtatious banter. You did not regard these advances on your part as unsolicited, despite the ubiquitous non-presence of anything resembling a request, since a lifetime of received affirmations had provided you with ample evidence that your advisements were not only timely and on point, but were really a kind of graciously gifted ointment that could serve as a balm to others and as corrective cover for their cumbersome faults.
You rarely faltered or hesitated in the making of public speech acts. As a matter of fact, at this very instant, you were engaged in a tactical maneuver often referred to as “hitting on someone.” Needless to say, we all felt that bludgeon. Having ascertained that your current coveted target was occupationally ordained as a lay people’s (and therefore, you presumed, easily laid) high school English teacher, you were confidently trotting out a time worn but adamant yarn on American wordsmithing that you felt certain would flutter her heart strings. You were white and she was white and from there, your certainty. Your mouth shuttled back and forth in urgent surges as you loudly lamented how children in the United States these days scarcely even knew how to read due to the twin evils of technology and sophistry. And when literacy was a critical delicacy within their possessions, you were afraid they were hoodwinked away from the unwavering guidance of the “classics” by misinformed, diplomatic administrators more beholden, in your words, to “diversity” than to “excellence.” “Lamentable” was a term that permeated your lips with some frequency and was spit forth freely, as were “judicious” and “tasteful” and “germane.”
You shuddered at the thought (or at least you claimed to, while gamely winking at the woman before you) that these impressionable young vessels, these “future leaders” had been detoured away from the graces of Edgar Allan Poe, Rimbaud and Mark Twain. The way you conveyed this phrase – “future leaders” – with a practiced combination of gravity and disdain, in coupling with a pained and downward-weighing facial angle, made your tangled perception of the unlikelihood of their capacity in this regard abundantly clear even as you never veered from insisting upon it. Such juveniles, you rued, were being deprived of a viable chance to marvel at the time-vetted masterworks of Huckleberry Finn and The Raven. They couldn’t even begin to usher an image of the ever vivid James Fenimore Cooper in reference or reverence to his name.
As you came to the apex of your monologic indignity at this particular disappointment, “deplorable” was an adjective you clung to and “pathetic” was its tried-and-true partner; together they smothered any doubt on the part of the listener as to the clout you expected your judgments to carry. Yet the adamantly blank face which the woman in your proximity maintained was making you nervous. Her fastidious and unbroken silence. The way she neither moved closer nor recoiled from you, with no indicative warmth or revulsion extending from her body. You sensed, if only dimly, that perhaps this was not because she had zero responsive feelings toward your utterances, but rather that she couldn’t be persuaded to bother to offer them. A dilemma that made you speak more rather than less.
As you appealed with growing zeal, but no finesse, to what you believed was a universally agreed upon assessment among all discerning literary aestheticians, it was yourself you used as its dutiful measure. And while this was not a wildly uncommon practice in its essence, few others could press forward with such surety, so curiously devoid of any gestures of self-qualification. The lives of most others had mandated a recognition, however partial in its nature, of the risks involved, the pivotal exposure of one’s personal orientations and assumptions that such assertions necessarily entailed. Yet you did not feel exposed (or at least had never felt so previously), proud of your finely tuned judgments and the well-kempt values that girded them.
But now there was this woman’s face before you – immobile, defiant, unpersuaded. Although it took you some time, you were shocked to finally identify that she wasn’t in the least interested in your approach, that her only moments of laughter or shadows of a grin were generated not in flirtation, but at every repetition of the name “Fenimore Cooper.” To the point where it was now beginning to sound strange even to you. You sensed with alarm that her absence of speech seemed to indicate not an unfamiliarity with your reference points, but a form of reticent yet intimate knowledge. It would have tickled you to reign over her in the former way, to lap at her ignorance in semi-erotic, bullying reinforcement of your own thesis. Sweet Jesus, how you would have enjoyed that. An old hat, but nevertheless mack daddy, smack kathy feeling.
Finally, with her expression still largely illegible and her eyes trained into the distance, the woman spoke. “There’s a line in Twain’s essay, The United States of Lyncherdom, wherein he points to that ‘handful of America’s children that have given us a character.’ This character to which he refers is not the character of democracy, nor of pluralism, nor of honor, nor of liberty – it is the character of lynchers. A quality mortally coupled across a broad public, with what Twain calls ‘the inborn human instinct to imitate.’ In this case again, to imitate lynchers.” The woman pauses. She wonders aloud, straightening her blouse with her right hand, if this is what you were thinking of when you said that today’s high schoolers are missing a certain critical curricular element, a “classic” understanding that continues to direct our core cultural and institutional structures even when we cease to directly acknowledge its imprimatur.
The woman doesn’t wait for you to respond, but continues: “As Twain brainstorms how we might strategically gather forces to combat this cruel tendency, he suddenly recalls the thousands of overseas U.S. Christian missionaries who have been permitted by the leniencies of distance and non-citizenship to fulfill the foreign function of imperialist assassins. He fastens his attention on their avowed ethics, challenging them in their holy commitment to the sanctity of humanity to ‘Come home and convert these Christians!’ These sinful fellow worshipers who not only don’t balk, but gawk and applaud before a line of domestic noose-fed executions so long it would ‘be hidden from view by the curvature of the earth.’ I imagine that you and I could agree that’s a rather long line,” the woman divines, her voice scarcely modulating. “Do you know what Twain’s definition of a classic was?” she asks, her arms so flatly tacked to her sides they look almost stapled there. ‘Classic: a book which people praise and don’t read.’”
To say that this unseasonably succinct reply sets you ill at ease would be an infeasible understatement. Your kind is not meant to be met by teasing, provided that’s even what’ s happening here. The great power of a pick-up line lies in its vagueness, in the way that it easily absorbs approbations and approvals without imbuing complications. For the recipient to know something of substance regarding the vacuous matters at hand ruins the exchange, precisely by making it into one. And you are in one now. Holy cow, are you ever.
The woman unlids a hydrating beverage. She remains measured, retaining her commitment to scrupulously avoid whatever spatial interactions she deems are avoidable. But she is speaking fully now. To be frank, you can’t believe how she is poised to go on – as if a simple rebuff were not enough, as if her prior and now pined for silence was actually a decoy presaging the summoned deployment of decimation powers. And suddenly you find yourself so easily decimated, no longer such a stately or savvy crowd-pleaser. You once read a poem by Martin Espada, which you hated (claiming it to be both unartful and Spartan in its lack of lyric eloquence), but which you nonetheless have always remembered. It included the line “if every rebellion begins with the idea / that conquerors on horseback / are not many-legged gods, that they too drown / if plunged in the river, / then this is the year.” Against all your own wishes, you committed that line to memory, all the while doggedly trying not to, scoffing off its final toss of incompleteness as emblematic of intellectual weakness. “This is the year, what?” you asked rhetorically, categorizing its author as a failed prophesier, inadequate to provide an answer. But it haunted you, that line. And now it comes back to you again, suspending itself in your frontal cortex. And for the first time you have the treacherously creepy and creeping sensation that maybe it is your lack of imagination, or your narrowness of mind that denies anything but blankness in that poignant space where language hangs in the balance.
Such unanswerable queries are making it very hard for you to swallow. Your mouth has become a veritable cyclone of unrest, crested by a testy outstretched tongue of trounced gung-ho bravado. Your margin of maneuver has been crudely marginalized. Your sizable jowls dangerously maladaptive to the challenge.
And again this woman is speaking. So much vocality in one of her gender is an unfriendly characteristic. It prickles the visage. Although your own invasive and involuntary facial contortions have caused you to miss a few of her words, you infer that she is somewhat perturbed, wary even, of the pairings that you have previously been making. While you have merged the “perceived mastery” of these “great whites” – the Fenimore and the Twain – so freely, the woman decrees that they would not so easily have merged themselves. They would, in all likelihood, have fiercely resisted such positioning. It is not outside our capacity, the woman offers dryly, to surmise this. “Especially,” she posits, “in relation to Western Civilization. With a certain droll sense of the macabre, Twain complains that, ‘The Blessings of Civilization are best seen in a dim light with a proper distance, a little out of focus [since] close examination does not suit them well.’ My sense,” the woman ventures, “is that as an artificially co-glued duo the Cooper and the Twain function similarly for you – identically embossed with the sweeping gloss of generic genius that so often does not stand up admirably to careful prodding.”
The woman finds your marrying of the two especially ill-suited because Mark Twain did not like James Fenimore Cooper’s work, not even a little. “Although it is worth noting,” she says, plucking calmly at a tiny piece of lint on her mint-colored slacks, “that Twain saves his most scathing critiques for matters of craftsmanship rather than politics. He finds Cooper’s work slovenly in form, verbally over-gorged as it breaks the cardinal rule to ‘eschew surplusage’ with dangerous frequency. The prose’s tropes, Twain mopes, are both repetitious and implausible. He mocks that Cooper’s gift in the way of invention ‘was not a rich endowment; but such as it was he liked to work it.’ Twain accuses Cooper of having no more than six to eight mainstay literary devices that he implements with neither pause nor mercy in order to move a plot forward. For instance, ‘A favorite one was to make a moccasined person tread in the tracks of a moccasined enemy, and thus hide his own trail. Cooper wore out barrels and barrels of moccasins in working that trick.’ Another precious Cooper gimmick, Twain proclaims, was the broken twig.”
Here the woman almost giggles in recollection, a display of emotion which surprises you tremendously, dousing your already dampened spirits into a sludge of unpampered irritability. Now, as if to throw upon the grill a billfold that is already well charbroiled, the woman oils her lips with water and proceeds. “I give you these lines,” she says, “from memory because they so pitch-perfectly capture Twain’s exasperation, whose penchants I do at times find charming. Cooper, Twain writes, ‘prized his broken twig above all the rest of his effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig.’ In fact, Twain argues that Fenimore Cooper’s whole Leatherstocking Series ought to have better been called the Broken Twig Series.”
“I have always found it a pity,” the woman admits, “that Twain didn’t dig his talons in beyond this priggish figure of the brittle stick, since some of the other shticks and gambits of the Fenimore Cooper tales can indeed tell us a great deal more – can tell our children more, as you have so adoringly opined and celebrated. But just what, pray tell, do these works spell out to our offspring, our fleet-winged future leaders? Is there an answer here other than the mere pleasures of adventure pioneerism?” The woman thinks yes. And you are more or less despondent with the prognostic dread that she is about to tread forward and tell you why. And by god she is.
“Cooper’s Littlepage Manuscripts are the second most famous of his widely circulated fiction collections and take place in upstate New York. They were written during a period of fierce regional land disputes, often referred to as the Anti-Rent Wars. In the early 1800s, most farmers in the Catskills (some 300,000 of them) were painfully tied at the bridle to a feudal land system in which they leased their plots from a few large hotshot landowners. Because the rents were so relentlessly high and the value of the land so outlandishly low, many farmers paid the full worth of their property over and over, in perpetuity, to a slender handful of wealthy families. The largest manor was owned by the Rensselears, who steered the fates of some 80,000 tenants and accumulated a fortune of more than $40 million. When the hardships of these subsistence tillers was compounded by economic crisis in the late 1830s, the tenants began first to contest and then to forego the issuing of their monthly payments en masse. In response, the irascible proprietors sent land agents and aging sheriffs to conduct court ordered sales of the cultivators’ acres, often confiscating farm animals when they couldn’t manage to collect their fees.”
“This was easier said than done. The tenants had begun to collectively organize, using the tin dinner horns of the women as an intricate system to warn neighbors of encroaching authorities. They gathered in large armed and disguised bands, under the banner of Anti-Renters, bent on obstructing either sales or evictions. These defensive convocations of humans could number fifty or a thousand. There is a mountain more that one could say about the political convictions and visions of these populist troops, as well as the unusual disguises they chose: garbed in calico, hooded, wearing fabricated sheepskin masks, often bedazzled with ornamentations. A chaotic, but optically hypnotic, get-up which they insistently referred to as ‘Indian’ garb. As ‘Indians,’ they made their defiant claim to be rid the chains of serfdom. Drawing upon the jumbled iconographies of American racialized hierarchies, they staked out their rights as dominated, but still supremacist, working class whites.”
“These, however, are not the insights I expect you and I to unite in unwinding. Rather, the point I’ve a mind to emphasize here is that Cooper’s trilogy, written in the dead middle of these events, with its unpent clownish depictions of the embattled and impoverished agrarian sector, is not simply pro-landlord and anti-tenant; it is profoundly pro-feudal, a dull-minded portrait of rote privilege far more worn out than any boring saga of synchronously toggled moccasin prints, although the socio-economic tints of each are not entirely unrelated. At this date in our history, perhaps an important question for our students might be: What are the other tropes in this oeuvre that we have overused and abused by barrel after barrel after barrel after barrel?”
This final well-aimed arrow of residual repetition is more than you care to hear. Your insides rear up in discomfort against the treasonous nature of these proceedings. In the last ten minutes alone, you have acquired two new facial ticks. The first is a periodic limited squinting of the left eye socket: it’s not a wink, rather the outer lid tinkers about noncommittally in an awkward rhythmic narrowing short of closure. Oh, that you could muster a wink right now to bring this dreadful and seemingly fling-proof woman down to appropriate size. Instead, in a misguided appraisal of bodily permission, your right cheek makes a mission of christening itself with newly drawn air which it proceeds to carry without exhalation. This oxygen in its grapefruit-sized station simply tarries there and sours, dilated, but non-circulating. And you begin to taste its stagnant wastes on the buds of your tongue, which compels you via glumness to volumize it further still. You are alarmed by this ill-proportioned version of yourself, its unfortunate self-coercions. When the chest inflates, that’s a powerful manhood; when the cheek inflates, that’s... But here your language straggles at the gates. What is that? No matter really. Given that whatever words you might conjure, powerful is certainly not one of them. Unbidden, Martin Espada re-enters with his porous chorus, “Let this be, what exactly? Please let this not be what?”
It has come to your attention that this demented woman before you may never stop speaking. Contrary to eliciting her admiration or arousal, you seem to have hit a sciatic nerve – a verbal loadstone – unleashing an onerous barrage of pent knowledge and relevant analysis you could never have anticipated. Especially given your trademark tendency to deny any interiority of substance to those who keep your company. Having lost your accustomed upper hand, you are hindered by feelings of infinite regret. You lament staying, but find yourself unable to confect an exit strategy.
The woman correctly senses your stuckness and trucks on ahead. “Whenever Mark Twain refers to Christian Americans (be it in scorn or praise, and whether man, woman, or child) he implicitly means white Christian Americans; he is appealing to lynching’s primary actors and foremost reactionary viewership, not to its victims. To his mind, in order for conditions to change, it is these whites who must alter their behaviors, their savior complexes, their beliefs.” The woman pauses to push up her sleeves. “When you approached me,” she says, “you were also making a presumptive appeal. You had geared yourself up to a particular kind of greeting, without first seeking any confirmation, as to what you assumed to know of my epidermis and my genitals. However, I think Twain’s observational efforts simultaneously create more friction and generate more compelling demands than yours can. Because, to speak truly, you are not observing; you are summarizing to your convenience. Valuing persuasion over accuracy. And this I would say, despite Twain’s limits – and he most definitely has some – is not one of his faults.”
“In my high school, I am required to use the Norton Anthology of American Literature. Without variation, every year I am mandated to teach almost solely from its contents. The Norton has a very interesting way of framing Twain; you may be familiar with it actually; it may have guided your own assessments. The Norton editors forcefully assert that within the literary apparatus there is critical consensus that Twain’s creative time had passed when he turned fifty. These critics celebrate Huckleberry Finn for what they call ‘its embodiment of the enduring and universally shared dream of perfect innocence and freedom, its recording of a vanished way of life in the pre-Civil War Mississippi.’” This, the woman believes, is precisely the “universally shared dream” that you too were creaming your pants over earlier. The dream that you presumed she would share, and the “vanished era of life” whose loss you were lamenting. The woman reports that she has, alternately, often dreamed of performing a survey in order to see just how many residents of her own city would so giddily and so “universally” associate pre-Civil War Mississippi with unblemished innocence and great personal liberty. She expresses some dismay as to how to categorize the kind of pick-up line that Norton is performing with this claim. Are they too engaged in the same gamble of the Caucasian speed date that you have instigated today?
You wince belatedly, your timing destroyed, your maw in crisis, opening and closing without license in isolated manic repetition, assuming one panicked position after another without sound. And still, with a chilling (to you) lack of emotional tacking, the woman simply continues – dear god, how dutiful and broad are the contours of this broad’s continuity. As if intuiting your every desire to the contrary, the woman will not demure. She further offers that, according to Norton, Huckleberry Finn is lauded for revealing to readers “the discrepancy between appearance and reality without leading us to despair of ourselves or others.” In contrast, the editors cast their dispersions on Twain’s later works as doomed by their acutely conveyed sensations of devastation. It is a mood of despair, for instance, that they are convinced “informs and flaws The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson,” a book which “shows the disastrous effects of slavery on victimizer and victim alike – the unearned pride of whites and the undeserved self-hate of blacks.” After so many back-to-back years of teaching, the woman herself has memorized large portions of the anthology’s introduction, but she has never required her students to read its contents. The voice of authority it provides quarters to makes her extremely hesitant to do so. “It is too burdensome to share, too irreparable in its testified neutrality and compliant judgments. In his later life,” the woman concludes, “Twain was unmoved by the aesthetic demand not to be a bummer, and for that I would say, more power to him.”
As luck would have it, and your luck today has only been bad and can only be worsening, the novel that Norton dismisses in flaw and failure is invariably this woman’s favorite book of Twain’s. You have never heard of it, nor of any of the late essays that she is sequentially naming. This unfamiliarity shows in your face and you know it. It embarrasses you. Your jaw is lewdly going crazy. Your ragged tongue wags and wags, but refuses to perform the interruptive favor of gagging you. Instead, it sags, it reddens, and it chafes.
And just when you wager that your day’s fate could not possibly sink lower, that nothing more could happen to further skew the inhuman imbalance of this woman’s asymmetric forms of reply, she gently pries from her sky-blue shoulder clutch a tiny paperback Bantam Classic. It’s a movement that might, in your earliest naïve moments of initial approach, have warmed your spirits with thoughts of what a perfect tart you had targeted for your self-marketing, but which now causes you an insuppressible nausea and, to your surprise, fear. Fear of what? You butt up against the realization that you have never made such an utterly bad choice in terms of who to hit on, or to speak to. This person is punching back, she’s ground-tackling you, with an aloof knack for exactness that leaves your emphatic blather in withered tatters.
“Perhaps I should ask your pardon,” the woman ventures, “for the domination of your time that I am presently inclined to embark on. However, since I did not take part in sparking this encounter nor its directions, and since you are such an aficionado of the arts as it were, I will not do so. The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson is Twain’s shortest novel, first published in 1894. The edition which I am fortunate enough to own is from 1959 and proceeded by a foreword from the poet Langston Hughes who admired the book for its ability to reveal U.S. race relations as taking place within a politicized landscape of economic and psycho-social constructions, expectations and constraints, rather than as a false and antiquated conflation of biological precepts or features. The narrative bears all the hallmarks of a conventional mystery novel, but its primary suspense-for-the-solving revolves around the exchange of two children who in their infancy look so similar (including in their whiteness) as to be interchangeable. One of the infants is a slave (the child of a household female servant named Roxy) and one of the infants is heir to the estate of one of the most prominent Virginia citizens and first families (in whose home the enslaved Roxy labors – both productively and reproductively).”
“Petrified at the very real prospect that her child could, at any time and according to any whim, be ‘sold down the river’ (into the even more notoriously brutal involuntary work regimes of the Deep South), Roxy exchanges the two children’s clothing and cradles under cloak of darkness. And no one knows but her. Eventually her birth son – who has been raised as her indifferent, reckless and volatile master – commits a murder that in its discovery unravels more than it bargains for. The young man (who is known as Master Tom Driscoll and who has been brought up in the bright, unconditional waves of unwavering entitlement) is exposed not only as an assassin, but also as ‘black’ and therefore ‘a slave.’ A double-edged razor, I suppose we could say.” The woman’s laserlike concentration now angles toward the pages themselves. “I’d like to read you,” she decrees, “the last two paragraphs of this narrative, a section which I trust, in your love of the great august traditions of canonical literature, you will find of interest.” With that, the woman opens the little battered pocket edition to its final weathered pages and begins reading:
The false heir made a full confession and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. But now a complication came up. The Percy Driscoll estate [an inheritance from his false father] was in such a crippled shape when its owner died that it could pay only sixty per cent of its great indebtedness, and was settled at that rate. But the creditors came forward, now, and complained that inasmuch as through an error for which they were in no way to blame the false heir was not inventoried at that time with the rest of the property, great wrong and loss had thereby been inflicted upon them. They rightly claimed that “Tom” was lawfully their property and had been so for eight years; they had already lost sufficiently in being deprived of his services during that long period, and ought not to be required to add anything to that loss; that if he had been delivered up to them in the first place, they would have sold him and he could not have murdered Judge Driscoll; therefore it was not he that had really committed the murder, the guilt lay with the erroneous inventory. Everybody saw that there was reason in this. Everybody granted that if “Tom” were white and free it would be unquestionably right to punish him – it would be no loss to anybody; but to shut up a valuable slave for life – that was quite another matter. As soon as the Governor understood the case, he pardoned Tom at once, and the creditors sold him down the river.
“Whenever Twain uses the word everybody,” the woman warns you, “you have to be very careful, to tread lightly, to carry suspicion as a key feature of cognition. For this is his stealthy cue to the reader that such unanimously held rationalisms can’t be trusted and, in fact, are scarcely unanimous, even if and especially when they are politically imposed as such. For this is the ‘sensible’ rationalism of ‘inventory,’ and not of human lives. ‘It would be no loss to anybody,’ writes Twain, but only so long as you subtract any and every body who has the greatest stakes in the matter, whose very bodies are the stakes. Bodies that are ‘pardoned’ only because the fate that awaits them instead is both more awful and more utilitarian to everyone in the political picture except themselves.”
The woman pauses to straighten the center hem of her shirt, running her finger expertly across one of its topmost buttonholes. While shoaling up her clothing’s closure, she assures you, “Langston Hughes sees Puddn’head Wilson as a well-wrought novel that works just as any good mystery novel should, ostensibly coming to wraps with all its loose bottles tightly capped and all its imprudently hijacked actions set right. ‘But for whom?’ Hughes asks. Set right for whom? And his question is the question and the discomfort and the unsettled edginess of every thinking reader. This is the flaw of which the literary establishment’s critical consensus speaks. However, the feature that they believe mars the text is actually its strongest asset – its capacity to leave behind an abiding squeamishness in the reader, especially the white reader. Fenimore is entirely without squeem, his works are deemed ‘perfect’ by dint of their pinnacle male austerity, their unerring patriarchal didacticism.”
“In March of 1906, years into the American-manufactured U.S.-Philippines War, Mark Twain recorded two days of excoriating autobiographical dictations in response to the Moro Massacre, an event in which 900 Filipino men, women and children were rounded up into the crater of a volcano and slaughtered. It is true that Twain’s documentations of this matter can not accurately be termed ‘humorous,’ although they do contain a most unembellished category of grim wit. With bitter acuity, he informs:
General Wood was present and looking on. His order had been “Kill or capture those savages.” Apparently our little army considered that the “or” left them authorized to kill or capture according to taste, and that their taste had remained what it has been for eight years, in our army out there – the taste of Christian butchers.
You used the word ‘tasteful’ with me earlier,” the woman notes, “but I prefer to say ‘full of taste.’ Sometimes its flavor can nearly overwhelm one’s senses. It can drown any hope of selfhood or of justice with its corpulent insistence. The way its powerful seasoning tends to mince everything around it to pieces, creating lesions no bandages can mend. I think the hyper-sensitized tensions of those lesions would resonate with today’s youth, don’t you?”
And with that, the woman turned, as if spurred by an invisible herding tool, and walked briskly away. Your pink organ lay there, outthrust, continuing to grow in its robust bloatedness, but not in speech. No, most definitely not in speech. Your right cheek had never been more aerated nor more heavy. You had long ago ceased to refer with any mental cognizance to the lyrics of Espada, lost as he was in the torrential waterfall of the woman’s language, but your left eye had taken up the mantra without and against the mind’s command and it twitched with a patterned kind of itch that were you not so dumbstruck you might have identified as a five-syllable rhythm: then-this-is-the-year, then-this-is-the-year, then-this-is-the-year, then-this-is-the-year. But what?
Emily Abendroth is a writer and artist who uses interventionist and documentary poetic strategies as exploratory tools for investigation and the “making strange” of otherwise all too familiar socio-political dynamics, relationships and intimacies. Her poetry book ]Exclosures[ is available from Ahsahta Press, along with numerous chapbooks from a variety of small and micro presses. She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony and the Headlands Center for the Arts, and was named a 2013 Pew Fellow in Poetry. A collaborative, durational text/dialogue that she has been engaged in with fiction writer Miranda Mellis is forthcoming in book form from Carville Annex Press in the Spring of 2016.