Five Questions with Christopher Rey Pérez

Salivary glands allow us to produce enough saliva to spit, which can be a defense mechanism against the dangers of poisoning, an expression of outrage, a sexual practice, even lubricant
Five Questions with [...] is an experiment with flash interviews. The series on poets continues with poet Christopher Rey Pérez. Pérez situates his geographical provenance near Alamo, nicknamed the "Land of Two Summers." The land of two summers is also where I situate our friendship. First there was a chance meeting in the swelter of upstate New York—chance because I was on my way to live in Palestine for 11 months, and Christopher was already making a life there. Before he departed from Annandale-on-Hudson that summer he left a note with a sketch of an angelic donkey on my windshield. Then came the second late summer in Ramallah, the kind that teases with cooling winds before you're ready to face autumnal obligations. Christopher cooked Mexican mole sauce at his home. Under usual circumstances the elaborate meal would be called exquisite; in the context of entrenched occupation, I recall it as… Read More...

Grapefruit Your Man

See to it that no parts of him go wasted
  By gripping him toward the center of an edgeless canyon— He, more beautiful than the dawn. Blueberry your man: squeeze his delicate inner tannins into a clean saucer. Watch his watermelon seeds pool into a dark portrait, The whites of his eyes shining like cool daybreak. Lemon your man in repetitive extraction, then Affix your gaze on his melted sacs and looping rinds. Tamper with the excess pods until they liquefy into a hydrous substance, Your man stirring in a cloudless bowl. All mammalian boundaries between you now dissolved, See to it that no parts of him go wasted, not even The thin folds of his segmented membranes, his fruit’s falsetto. Pineapple your man until his ovaries flower into individual sugarloaves Juiced, follicle by follicle, as a proudly bursting blood orange.   Read More...

Alphabet of an Unknown City (N-Z)

I dwell frequently on the notion that the male body expands and the female body contracts in public space
Previously: Alphabet of an Unknown City, A-M ni oblit, ni perdó This graffiti keeps crossing my path in Barcelona like a declassified article. The untranslated Catalan works fine if you use that familiar Romance language pincer as a grasping tool. Babel or Barbarian? The trill of vernacularized Latin enfolds me into its secret society of millions, a famiglia without a don. From “gibberish,” noun, a. el galimatías (m) “I can’t read the graffiti; it just looks like gibberish to me. – No puedo leer el graffiti; me parece puro galimatías. b. el guirigay (m) “The singer doesn’t enunciate her words, so it sounds like gibberish.” – La cantante no enuncia las letras y por eso suena a guirigay. c. la tonterías (f) “The senator’s speech all sounded very grand, but it was just a bunch of gibberish and empty promises.”… Read More...

Alphabet of an Unknown City (A-M)

It’s beginning to be impossible to write about how impossible it is to write about love
Next: Alphabet of an Unknown City, N-Z almost-thief Señor, señor: What is your hand doing in my luggage? (but because I have been in the country for only twenty minutes, I scramble the words, fishing out the Portuguese bagagem instead of the Spanish maleta, a Portuñol his face registers as a sarcastic grimace) Señor: I am missing a credit card. What do you know about it? (his nails are short except for the left index, digitus secundus, trigger finger, the tip extra-long and sharp; he has neatly perforated the upper seam of my wallet’s zipper) Here, take my seat. I insist. So you don’t ruffle through anyone else’s belongings. Do us all a favor— (onlookers staring; one baby stops crying and sits up straight in his stroller to take in the scene) Señor, señor: Your look of disdain for me confounds… Read More...

Secret Catalan Poem

The dark, heavy energy of paranoia, fear, and defense; the protective nature of shelter, housing, and land re-appropriation
On the first day of this year, I climbed the Bunkers del Carmel in Catalonia with 36 long-stem roses, purchased for 3€ each at a flower shop in Can Baró, the enveloping neighborhood. In exchange for one rose, I invited people to record a secret, something which they had never before revealed or wished to keep private. They were encouraged to do so anonymously, semi-anonymously, or pseudonymously. A couple of weeks later, I transported the secrets to the U.S., and translated them from Spanish, French, Catalan, and Italian into English. In New York, I invited 36 other people to read the secrets aloud at a performance in Pioneer Works. The Bunkers are the site of a former anti-aircraft defense system during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. Later, with the accoutrements of anti-fascist warfare dismantled, they became informal housing or "shantytowns" for thousands on… Read More...

Canceled Message (Part Three)

How to erase yourself (almost) completely
Part One here; Part Two here. Bio is a text written / deleted / rewritten on Twitter dot com for one year. That accumulation / deletion / recomposition is now a 736-page book that contains zero tweets. It will be released in May 2018 by Inventory Press. There's no dedication page, but it's informally dedicated to the internet. And to Palestine, where most of it was written. "How do you use a medium against and within its own confines?" That was the last question I posed out loud to myself about Bio when discussing its motivations, propositions, and process. Since then excerpts of the project have appeared in The Animated Reader: Poetry of Surround Audience, an anthology of the 2015 New Museum Triennial (edited by Brian Droitcour). I've also had a chance to discuss it in various contexts, most recently in late 2017 at a closed study workshop at Stuart Hall Library in London. Curator… Read More...

Routine Repairs & Earth & Dust

This is that old N.Y. dread—the frenetic running, the bleak refrigerator contents, no TIME for deep thinking or seeing friends, et. etc.—& that dread hasn’t died down yet.
A letter by Denise Levertov to William Carlos Williams. Levertov, born in Britain, emigrated to the United States in 1948, and became a citizen in 1955 at the age of 32. She subsequently lived in Mexico for two years before moving back to New York with her husband and young son. She and Williams shared a correspondence lasting from 1951 to 1962. Any resemblance to real people is purely intentional.  Calle Crespo No. 19 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico November 24th [1957] Dear Bill,             The construction began at a more reasonable hour today, 8 o’clock instead of the usual 6:30. That 2 rooms & a kitchen could be in this much of a muddle! There was a fault in the plumbing they didn’t catch until there was plaster over it. Now they have to start all over or moldy pipes & burnt… Read More...

#upcoming

Upcoming solo and collaborative events in the U.K.
I am currently living and working in the U.K. on an art residency at Wysing Arts Centre. Here are some upcoming solo and collaborative events in Cambridge, Nottingham, and London between now and January 2018. 29 Nov 2017 Visiting Artist Lecture Fine Art Research Unit Talks Anglia Ruskin University Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is a visual artist, writer, and theorist whose work explores the interplay between aesthetic and political valences in the public domain. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Film and Visual Studies from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in Film/Video from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Wysing Arts Centre. Gharavi's current work is invested in the live film, or uses of "liveness" in film, video, and performance that activate through restaging, reenactment, remaking, or other transformational strategies.… Read More...

The Open Secret

Every system of supremacy produces victims, but in a masculinist one it produces silenced victims
A female comedian anonymously contacted me on Twitter direct messages in 2012 divulging Louis CK's predatory sexual behavior and seeking an outlet. The urgency and detailing of despair left no room for inaction, though I had no prior relation or interest in his professional pursuits, nor knew her personally. With her blessing I contacted journalist John Cook who investigated her story and published a blind item. Back on Twitter, one woman, perturbed that the allegation was unsubstantiated, publicly unfollowed me. Also upset were some male fans whose comedic idol was beginning to lightly court a tainted reputation. The anonymous woman who had originally contacted me quietly disappeared from view, and I never heard from her again. Open secrets left untreated fester over time. They reveal to all involved—except the predating individual and the alliances that buttress that violence—their lack of social agency. Rumor and gossip become an… Read More...

Funny Face

Sad tricks with ladders and shoes, tricks with salt...
1. Often I awaken to the realization that Chelsea Manning was imprisoned, isolated, and tortured for her refusal to be apathetic. That she sat at a military base on a stretch of land along the Iran-Iraq border and became horrified by the video she witnessed of U.S. soldiers killing unarmed civilians as live sport. The truth of all this will never leave me. And often I wonder about the last time Chelsea Manning laughed, and about whom, and whether there was anyone nearby to hear it. 2. One night I gave a reading at Segue Books' poetry series. Outside, during a break, I talked to critic Michael Barron while a friend took candid photos and smoked cigarettes. Michael asked me how I thought the reading went, and I was genuinely surprised to reflect on it—that is, on the question of how I was… Read More...

Bad Subjects

One, astrology; two, dreams
To Nora Mapp Astrology as catnip, catering to the little pleasure of being involved with the self. Because one of my brothers finds this penchant distasteful, I challenged myself to pique his interest with an extremely esoteric astrological guide based on the theology of Shi’a imaams. The Sun Signs as Shi’a Saints Fire: Aries. al-Mujtaba (2nd imam, “the chosen”) Leo. al-Taqi (9th imam, “the God-fearing, the generous”) Sagittarius. al-Askar (11th imam, “the citizen of a garrison town”) Earth: Taurus. Ali ibn Abu Talib (1st imam, “commander of the faithful”) Virgo. al-Kadhim (7th imam, “the calm one”) Capricorn. Husain ibn Ali (3rd imam; “master of the martyrs”) Air: Gemini. Baqir al-Ulum (5th imam, “the revealer of knowledge”) Libra. al-Mahdi (12th imam; “the guided one, the proof”) Aquarius. al-Sajjad (4th imam; “the one who constantly prostrates, ornament of the worshippers”) Water: Cancer.… Read More...

If You’re Feeling Directional

Upward and onward
                  I love the -ward words. upward. forward. onward. Even wayward and downward hold a positive charge. There is a messianic American Puritanism in these words that I identify with a strongly swung pendulum, all Calvinist pull and sway. When I look up the etymology I learn of -weard (Old English) from a Germanic (of course!) root meaning 'turn.' To move up- or east- or home- involves a necessary transformation, whether one arrives intact or dissolves into a fiery crash. In high school the driver's ed teacher taught us about momentum and kinetic energy and motion and centrifugal force, and it was the most vivid course in physics I ever got, even if accidentally useful, because my father actually taught me to drive on a manual '89 Taurus, and the actual physics classes mostly involved our Vietnamese teacher's futile attempts at getting a prominent Supreme Court… Read More...

—“but was it a peaceful protest?”

Mapping capoeira as an instrument of liberation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk4UuiWe0Fs ?     ?     ? I was looking at a picture of Hamoudeh—Mohammad Azzehs’ nickname—being carried to a waiting ambulance. He was bleeding profusely, and in obvious pain. A co-worker asked about the picture, and I told her that my friend was shot the day before protesting against the Israeli occupation. He is only 15 years old, and we don’t know if he’ll live or die, I told her. Apparently blind to the wounded, bleeding 15-year-old child in the picture, she replied coolly, “Yeah, but was it a peaceful protest?” Her response is an example of the casually, yet deeply held assumptions of most Americans regarding Palestine. Despite the grossly uneven contest between flak-jacketed, helmeted Israeli soldiers armed with an array of fully automatic weapons, small arms, tanks, armored vehicles, and sniper rifles, and the unprotected, unarmed teenaged children waving… Read More...

Postcard from the Internet

Fragments of a shadowy century
  Dear __________, If you are an allochthonous being, a rock or precarious tree rooted out from one soil and transplanted elsewhere, you cannot ever take genealogy for granted. Where the others can trace down to the specific historical vehicle or bloodline—who brought whom where, with whom, which way, and how—you will be left to sift through the occasional photograph, the odd homeland trip, or bit of family gossip, dimly searching for the fragments of a shadowy century (or two, at most three). There is no suitable ancestry dot com for the immigrant. But as I was moving through life saddened by the truth of this scattered sedimentation and exclusion from the world of heritage discovery, the internet came through for me, because kneeling in the lower-right hand corner of this 66-year old photograph—discovered by chance in an article on national Iranian… Read More...