Posit’s AWP 2017 off-site reading

Co-sponsored by for Prelude, Inter/rupture, & Bone Bouquet


Rae Armantrout, G.C. Waldrep, Amy King
Catherine Blauvelt, Armando Jaramillo Garcia, Lindsay Turner
Sarah Sarai, Laura Jaramillo, Dominique Salas
Eloisa Amezcua, Lucian Mattison, Caroline Crew
Hosted by Susan Lewis, Stu Watson, Curtis Perdue, & Krystal Languell

Admission: free

Saturday, February 11, 2017 3-5 PM
D.C. Arts Center, 2438 18th St NW
Washington, D.C.


Editors’ notes

Welcome to Posit 1!

It is with the greatest pleasure that I present this inaugural issue. From now on, whenever I am asked what kind of writing Posit is looking for, I will point to the work in this volume, which shares a quality I hope to make Posit’s hallmark: its combination of homo- and heterogeneity. Homogeneously excellent, by which I mean both original and accomplished. Yet heterogeneous in form and style. Diverse, as well, in origin, harking from Ottawa, Toronto, Rockhampton, Australia, New York, Kentucky, California, San Antonio, and Olympia, Washington. I believe that re-contextualization gives rise to re-conception – that a luminous energy emerges from the cross-talk sparked by the juxtaposition of voices as divergent as the ones assembled here.

I hope you agree, and that you enjoy the great Michael Boughn’s Whitmanesque “City II.2.iv – Flirtations of light,” singing the promise and dread of urban life in this masterful and tantalizing excerpt; Mary Kasimor’s dazzling sampler of rigorous, lapidary explorations of lyric’s cerebral and aesthetic potential, crafted and turned to frameworks of implication as sharp and graceful as razor-wire lace; the grave entertainment of Amy King’s intellectual joy-ride of verbal pyrotechnics, warning and pleasing us at once, offering treats and lifelines to help “make sense of the contagion/we call today;” Travis and JenMarie MacDonald’s playful yet probing lyric departures from Dr. Who, as grave and light of touch as the Doctor himself, and, like the Tardis, improbably expansive; rob mclennan’s entries from his Glossary of Musical Terms, whose intensity of encapsulation and fragmentation shatters preconceived ideas of word and note, generating an energetic lexicon for new connections; Bernd Sauermann’s compressed, delicate, chiseled blocks of verbal and intellectual alchemy, as quietly shocking as a “revelation making its way like mad current up my arm;” R.L. Swihart’s spare, incantatory, verbal fragments taken up and dropped like stitches connecting our shared experience of the dread unspoken; Rob Talbert’s deceptively plain-spoken, unflinching perspicacity, hiding twist after brilliant turn in plain sight, working the seam between heart and mind, lament and appreciation, elegy and critique; Brad Vogler’s meditations on what cannot, will not, or need not be said, magically drawing our quieted attention to the syntax and typography of stillness itself; Mark Young’s deliciously understated verbal artifacts, turning our expectations of allusion and ekphrasis, realism and surrealism, artifice and nature, art and commerce on their heads via splashes of “Frankendolling,” the “sonnets of Michelangelo,” and other inversions; and finally, Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon’s spare, precise, and gravely playful “The Ruler of Rusted Knees,” deftly uniting the verbal and the visual.

Finally, a few appreciations.

To the accomplished and celebrated contributors who so generously entrusted their work to this fledgling publication: my deepest gratitude.

To those contributors who are editors as well: Joanna Fuhrman (Ping Pong), Travis and JenMarie MacDonald (Fact-Simile), rob mclennan (Chaudiere Books, above/ground books,etc.),  Brad Vogler (Opon), and Mark Young (Otoliths): the excellence you bring to both endeavors is my inspiration for this undertaking.

To the talented artist and website designer Nathan Gwirtz: thank you for converting my ideas into (virtual) reality.

And to my friend and collaborator, Arts Editor Melissa Stern, thank you for joining me in this venture!

But perhaps most importantly, to you, dear reader: thank you for visiting Posit 1. I hope you are glad you did.


Susan Lewis

* * * * *

Beginning with this, our inaugural issue, Posit will showcase a variety of visual artists working in all mediums, whose work we find thoughtful, provocative, funny, dangerous, or just plain beautiful. Each issue will bring together galleries by three to six artists whose work presents a vision that is both individually and collectively unique.

I am honored that Susan Lewis has chosen me to accompany her on this voyage, and hope that you will join us from issue to issue.

For Posit 1, it is my pleasure to present the work of three artists whose work shares a sense of elegance and grace. In these galleries, Michael Janis creates sublime narratives of extraordinary depth and dimensionality through the laborious fusing of layer upon layer of laminated glass, bringing precision and construct to a parallel universe where science and reason adhere to their own logic; while Leah Oates’ gentle layers of image and tone build mysterious photographic journeys through countryside and city; a theme taken up by Kyle Gallup’s celebration of the past and possibility of New York, from Coney Island to old theater marquees, alternately documenting a world long-gone and fashioning a fantasy of what it might have been.

Happy viewing!

Melissa Stern

Amy King

Pussy Riot Rush Hour

                -Lexington Avenue Line

Just write.  Stop worrying.
Twitch from the corporate fondle,
bake a cake for the women in prison,
go to the bank when no one’s looking
to discover what you don’t want there.
You know all of this, so why do I ask?
I’m asking because you need to hear
again and then somehow you’re not
above anything, how you are not
nothing but the roar of clouds overhead,
the din of a bodega at let-out hour,
the smell of a smile unwashed
and the compression of panties beneath
too-tight tights drawn to impress
the boss into a holiday off. What we
won’t do for a little piece of ourselves,
for a shiny glimmer of heaven behind
the stacks of computer boxes and books
that tell us nothing of literature.  We eat
our lunches and ask for rush hour
to pummel us awake.  The woman hitting
herself, buck up head heavy against
the number 5 train downtown moves
people from her pole with the sheer
determination of science.  No one can
calculate exactly when her head will erupt
with blood from the daily six o’clock
punching, but self infliction is a cause
that brings us away from our senses.
I remember her well, never moving
from her usual spot of breath held and eyes
upon her.  I’m just my clothes in the seat
beneath her and can do nothing
with my pen to blank notebook pages
on my lap that maps us all the way down-
town, further south than we care
to admit we’re going.  We are all about
her with pretend not-looking and how
we wish we wish we wish
for that breath that fills us in between
buildings, that steel and mortar
and the flesh hanging off us each
to each, the potential blood bags standing
in the station, we waiting ones back then
forth every day as we incomplete ourselves.

Your Heart, the Weight of Art

I’m scrolling through your photos like this is the last frontier,
and when I get beyond, I’m going to know love like nothing before.
How to move beyond what I’ve ever done.

So I get my shine on, turn everything to egg whites,
whipped up smile, a girl, the way I know you like it,
faking everything in Chinese, even if you don’t know me ever.

But you will, oh will you. And this girl, she’s all young
and smooth and photo-full, and now I’m just a girl who.
The stars go beyond us, which is our frustration and diamonds to forever.

I’m full of country. I’m so into this century.
Larger than any life. This dying will kill us
if we don’t make it out in one breath, dead or less than.

You’ve got to protect your heart, every decade, with the weight of all that is Art.
When it’s on me and I breathe it in, I know I’m knowing you.
The sky flattens behind your smile, and you know what else.

Your body lies on me, and this is the party.
Existence is a flattery we don’t meet each minute.  We invite it
to come upon us, and hope the courting we fashion sells us back to it.

I lie on this mountain each night also, thinking you into me,
I like you inside me in all the ways, stereo ways, law ways, exam ways,
in excess of ways we haven’t seen yet. You are my distance. I straddle the cosmos.

Sometimes I see what isn’t there, and that includes Love,
as if some parlor trick is inherited from my great grandmother
of the mystical Cherokee variety. But she was no soothsayer, and I’m just alone
now, with the life that is in you calling mine out.

Back to the Future Is My Endgame

The government’s social media is upon us.
It’s hard to say which is either,
it’s hard to notice if I am neither,
it’s hard to tell what’s more worthy,
even in content-specific instances.
I mean, are we not full of money
and filling up on wild boar meat?
Do we not pet the goat and steal their oil?
We are not the same rotten filling that comes
from donut holes, but we do dash
here and then there and then some
just to get noticed.  As in, notice that I am not you;
I’m the one who thinks of you every other orgasm,
at least, just to make sense of this contagion
we call today. Self-study, self masturbatory, self immolation,
self mirroring peckish parrots to hear you.
So next level.  Adjust the preceding language
to become the one you most admire.
They used to call it single white female –
but now we call it “there is anti-matter there”
beyond that umbilical horizon of Ethernets,
or in Lacanian speak – there is no portside.
But I’m the rabbit calling your name
through the downward spout, through the lingering hiss,
through the other side all the way to China,
whose technology is growing evermore cooperative
than our paltry nanobots, until I kick back
in my own backyard where you then arrive
to find us throwing empty beer cans
at half-beaten shadows, wracking up the least
amount of dirty money in the neighborhood.
We get critical and spin some lazy beats
and ask ourselves to reproduce in the multimillions,
in the multiple seizures of real televisions,
until exhausted, lying unkempt on deathbeds,
we shoot across the backgrounds like
finally free wolves who forgive
our indiscretions against ourselves. As in,
Time:  we just made that shit up.

The Spare God

In a swollen twist of light, the patriarchal grid has overlain
the biological entity, female, who creates life,
with a femininity that represents a lack akin
to who can wrap your whole voice into a stringed instrument.

The day beyond the storm, the sea sits on her lung afloat.

She sings in siren pitch along the voice of Georgia O’Keefe:
Making your unknown known is the important thing.

We raft our way to a hollow socket, the gulf of no return
to hear echoes of an abyss long since drowned.  We are light gone by.

We found joy halved and tabled for auction, ready for stitches
of linens and playthings that bring it back to haunting.
Make me the wind?  I awaken, breathing the whale in. That song too.

Her words make spring want to eat me.  I’m edible, I till the scene,
I approach old bones by arterial walls and bend into them.
In war, combatant animals howl the other side. Hospitals comfort prisons.

Patients take the romantic angle and swim death in the head
no bigger than a waking mile.  Each awareness is the touch
of cool cloth to foreheads, is the smile of decay that brings night to bay,
each one an imminent break in paragraphs that signal
another chapter onward, anticipating its page break.

For blood in a heart, behind eyes, cooing the pulse of hyenas’
mistaken sighs, we only move for tomorrow, which never arrives,
the feminine gift we know better than any axe or gun, her voice singing sirens
towards which the flies swim to pluck strings, without ever asking her name.

Of her most recent book from Litmus Press, “I Want to Make You Safe,” John Ashbery described Amy King’s poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” “Safe” was one of Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. “The Missing Museum” is forthcoming in 2014 from Kore Press. King also teaches English & Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College and works with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.