j/j hastain - When we speak, we are actually always performing fellatio. Categories are not abstractions, they are bodies.

 sos j hastain

j/j hastain, S O S: Song of Songs of Solomon, Triton, 2013.

www.jjhastain.com/sos-song-of-songs-of-solomon-a-queer-translation/

Song of Songs of Solomon is a beautiful book. I am swept away by the astonishing use of color, of close-up photography, of the lyrical movement from page to page, image to image, passage to passage of text. There is a synthesis here that is beautiful and moving. The narrative itself is heightened by the intensity of longing the images convey: again, this arising out of the intensities of color and composition and perspective. The narrative seems to operate simultaneously as a spiritual and physical pilgrimage. The soul moving between the King’s castle and the Mother’s house, seeking love, union, transcendence of the binaries, King and Mother. The lover making the same crossing, from castle to house, toward, with, seeking the beloved. Soul and lover, each its own veneration, celebration, each capable only of a partial realization of love/redemption/delight. A process of toward. In the journey across or between, fraught with terror, fulfillment becomes possible. The journey of the spirit into awareness, the journey of the lover toward the beloved. Each prong of the journeying essential to the other, each affording the other. The embrace of the self and the lover are one. The losses, confusions, separations, isolations stages in knowing, becoming, loving, self and other. Marthe Reed

How to speak of j/j hastain’s SOS: Songs of Solomon: A Queer Translation?  There will inevitably be as many experiences of SOS as there are readers of it. Perhaps, for some of us who decide to fully enter the dimensions and matrices of SOS, witness will end up being a more proper term than reader. As a reader/witness, it is hard to come away from this physical object—a thick, hybrid intersection of photography and fierce poetic meditations about loves, genders, sexualities, spirits—without having felt invited to project oneself into it. In addition to a book, SOS is a hand, potentially open, filled with secrets about bodies and beloveds. If you allow yourself to be love-filled and tender as you hold your hands open in return, from the other side of the book/body, you could receive a secret. “All this love in order to be part of the incarnate, sentient language wherein grief and fulfillment no longer need to be at odds with each other.”
hastain summons witnesses with the second person tense throughout: “Perhaps intimacies within a book obsessed with the beloved can lead you to your beloved in form? Would you be forlorn during each of the necessary translations?” Translation from book to body. From body to beloved. The beckon of the beloved as friend, lover, self, secret, reader; beloved as witness; beloved as an act of shamanistic return. “It makes you beloved to me that you can hear my interior echoes.”
I’m just one of the reader-witnesses of SOS, and there’s no way of knowing what manifestations of SOS I haven’t accessed but that you, or you, or you might discover and decide to navigate on your own. I find this wonderful. SOS leaves spaces in which the told and untold point to each other deliberately and with care. Many of those spaces exist between the words and the photographs that tattoo the book/body’s paper-skin. SOS is decidedly mystical, written on itself with images of disjointed body parts, dreamscapes, and various unspecified holdings. Its words and images weave ribbon-like through countless definitions and enactments of love—love as fear, as ecstasy, as spirit, as sexual practice, as ancient elements, as “gender from the ground up”. This book/body resolutely invites, sometimes implores, the “you” into the profound, open-ended environments of genders.
All these bound ribbons and their inverse liberations sing, draw out, mourn, and dance. They carry each other through countless modes: The sexual—tongues; skins; “an infinitude of virginities and coituses”. The earthly—birds; gems; sky-myrrh; “this one handful of water that I’m carrying”. The mystical and psychospiritual—“non-singular states in the spirit of confession”. No dance here can be disconnected from its Others. I experience SOS as both a home and a mystery—not a mystery to be afraid of, necessarily; a mystery that can be learned from, one that needs light here and darkness there, sometimes on its own terms and sometimes via the willingness of the “you”, of the beloved, to touch it. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the decision to be alive in this manner is a marvelous and worthwhile decision for a book to make.
Carolyn Zaikowski



j/j hastain, Her, Lummox Press, 2013.

excerpt

From Intro to her:
To speak to why I wrote her is to need to go way back. I used to be a little girl. I used to dream of finding a man (to marry) who was just like my daddy. I used to play the violin and haul red wagons full of vegetables down the street from the neighbor’s house to mine. I used to beg the night for relief from the day. How does a ‘used to’ become a current relevancy?
I wrote her to honor her (the pronoun, the ‘used to’ parts in me), to try and de-toggle something in me, to uphold a previous (yet very necessary) identity while making space in me for new pronouns, new identities. The future tense of the present houses the past in a sweet casing. I want to honor the her in me: the her in her stilettos and pencil skirts, the her who begins to become the land of the Australian outback (with dreadlocks and bare feet), the her that is less her and more something else with that shaved head and those boxers, pants sagging into a plethora of pronouns. All of these deserve honor because all of them are true: all of these are me.

j/j hastain transcends experimental poetry, transcends experimental words and concepts, and transcends beyond sexual identity into transference into something more. j/j writes for the voiceless, giving them a voice, finding “the courage to enter/ the next body”. There are many posers out there pretending to be outrageous; j/j is the real deal. j/j explores identity and wow, does it matter! It matters when identity gets blurred in the world, where so many do not know who they are, and sex and gender are easy to unintentionally slip out of, like undressing skin. As j/j says, “what imprisons is the idea/ of space” and j/j is a poet obsessed with space and line breaks. For what breaks us more  than the negative space around us; or, the space of silence?—Martin Willitts Jr

One of poetry’s most bedeviling challenges is to render the ineffable into language. The bolder poets face the difficulty of not only writing about complex subjects but of writing about those liminal spaces in topics where language does not yet exist.  j/j hastain has succeeded here as few yet have in being able to give voice to the unfolding/enfolding complexities of gender and identity. The poems in  her stretch from a purely lyrical explication of a personal situation to the breathless urgency of an unfolding manifesto.  I am reminded in this work of the powerful and shocking music of Monique Wittig’s Les Guerilleres. Although hastain’s aims are large, they do not go unfulfilled. This is a book that should serve as a baseline for poetry that attempts to bridge identity’s great divides.—Eloise Klein Healy

“The first time I read j/j hastains' “her,” my response was the word ”Gloria.” I then put the book of poems away to think about why this word had been my reaction. It came to me that this long poem is really a ground breaking spiritual manifesto based on the reactions of a female body’s childhood sexual experience and ends in the transformative power of poetry to evolve sex to what is sublime--beyond gender, yet embodied in the “her-ness” that is peeled away, petal by petal, as the tulips in the poem. Not only is this ground breaking in the philosophical, spiritual, sense but also notably in j/j’s poetical form. j/j’s words are chosen unerringly to be links to the nurturing, sensual and creative aspects; j/j’s spaces command attention to the whole of word and space until a luminous anamorphic beauty looms at once dominant and fragile.” - Carole Towers




j/j hastain & t thilleman, Clef: a manifesto, Spuyten Duyvil, 2013.

What j/j and tt (who have come together to haunt each other’s pages into expansion) became now reads as a meditation upon knowing that there are not currently enough models for engagement of the ravenous it. Ravenous because it is set to consume caverns of the overlap of psyche and the physical, to have focus be on the minute aspects of the whole, to gauge instant by instant the flickering particles that push toward gesture; gesture is itself push re society/ socialization or solitude.

“Moreover, CLEF holds up to the test of bibliomancy:  you can open up the book and read any page, and find meaning. Nowhere is random or void.”-   Rich Blevin

dear secondary umbilical, by j/j hastain

j/j hastain, dear secondary umbilical, MadHat Press, 2013.   

There is no doubt j/j hastain is making our new poetry of oracle. Poetry I want, poetry you want, poetry very much wanted. It s not poetry about everything being all right. It s better for you than any liar s subterfuge. How else will we get the love? It s beautiful in here. This is a book I will give to the ones I share the best parts of this world with. --CA Conrad

Identifiying as Trans/ post-binary genderqueer (which is different than Transgender, though not discounting it, at all) j/j is interested in differentiated usages with regard to the prefix Trans (not related to a previously determined model with binary derived bases). Merriam Webster defines transoceanic as “crossing or extending across the ocean” and translucent as “transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly.” Both definitions are akin to j/j’s Trans/ genderqueer identity. To develop and nourish compositional methods which increase empowerment in what a diminutive and polarizing world, j/j creates spaces/ forms inherently non-linear, inherently a-historical—spaces that have never been patriarchally controlled, whichcannot be patriarchally controlled.
Singing is an embodiment site of enablement for j/j, who, currently, torches tunes with the jazz/ blues bandthunderhoney (based in Denver, Colorado.

pleth by j/j hastain and Marthe Reed

j/j hastain, Pleth, Unlikely Books, 2013.

pleth is a textual-visual collaboration between poets j/j hastain and Marthe Reed. j/j hastain created a series of their "poem-cells," collages with visual and textual elements, and Marthe responded with textual verse.



In Unlikely’s second offering, pleth, established poets j/j hastain and Marthe Reed collaborate on a work that is both visual and verbal. The title, a shortened form of the word plethora, is used by hastain to convey the writer’s multiple senses of self and as a reconfiguration of the he/she binary. Reed selected it as the title as a reference to the unfolding journey of gender awareness and identification captured within the book. The poems inside are smoky with intent, capturing the undulating dance of together/apart, brought to point by the fierce intellect of hastain and Reed.
hastain, well known for xyr cross-genre topics and post-gender advocacy, begins each call-and-response segment with collages that are both suggestive and introspective, drawing in the imagination with glimpses of sensual curves and ambiguous shadings and coloration – is that a hint of decay, or simply the delicate layering of tissue? Across each visual piece, hastain strews a spare handful of words, sometimes illuminating, sometimes an intriguing, intimate glimpse of internal dialog of pain and promise.
Marthe Reed, former creative writing program director at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and co-publisher of Black Radish Books, then gives  her textual response in poetry so carefully honed, so precisely luminous, that each word resonates – with hastain’s images, with per words, and with Reed’s own scrupulously crafted poetry. At its heart, pleth is a passionate dialog about the crash point between cyber-entropic dissipation and the regenerative power of connection.
There are complex nuances in both hastain’s and Reed’s work, fragmented glimpses of post-apocalyptic wounds, of a desperate last grasp at the tattered shreds of a brave new world’s disavowed humanity, but both hastain and Reed offer, above all else, a sense of beauty, and of hope that shines through.
In a 2011 interview with Rob McLennan, Reed says modestly that it is not clear to her that poetry is any effective means of grappling with the larger social issues of the society around her. But it appears that in pleth, she has found her place. “We are …” Reed says, “tangent velocities abrading the knots.”
  -Deb Hoag


j/j hastain, myrrh to re all myth, Furniture Press Books, 2013.

"At once reckless, eccentric and graceful, j/j hastain's newest collection creates a poetics of overflow that interrogates the very nature of form, 'filling the filigree/with embodied/flicker/all of the parts of our flesh-compass.' In myrhh to re all myth, the poet innovates a fluidity that nurtures form 'as gap to invert/while we so ravenously/invent.' Rather than the brittle stasis of conventional poetry, this supple work rises to the level of jubilant defiance. Attending to our 'human askew' in a manner that is both empathic and challenging, hastain enacts dynamic swerves: this book generates an eros and intimacy that have social, spiritual and 'a truly galactic activism.'"—Elizabeth Robinson

"'This is a romance of fractals,' an invigorating linguistic panoply which refuses to be any one thing. myrhh to re all myth gives us a vivid transdifferentiated poethic state—a sonic inquiry—thus feral post-gendered embodiment of 'the infinitely ferric dress.' Multiple, layered, disarming and hauntingly worthwhile, hastain spins a fine vocalic lyric gossamer about us, a future ethos and new grammatical treatise of fracture, rediscovery, and retelling, a myrhh re(garding) all myth."—Susana Gardner

"MYRRH TO RE ALL MYTH is a vast consortium of direct transmissions from the brain stem, the limbic system, the neocortex and the ecosystem—these transmissions are then transduced by intensive language decoding the flows. hastain presents a sensual wardrobe of aternal, untimely and actual meanings that give a perlocutionary effect of incredible wonder. I'm entranced by this book."—Brenda Iijima

If myth is the collectivity of human story, then j/j hastain has rewritten it. This  is a beautiful, radical opus wherein the construction of everything, of anything, particularly that amorphous thing called identity and the identities we embody despite and because of it, is akin to being “husked beans laid out in piles across miles of farm fields,” a virginal state that is, like hastain’s sustained lyric, as terrifying as it is powerfully generative. hastain is aware of the potency of prefix—that how we “re” is also how we “de,” putting  re/deconstruction into the real/artificial centrifuge, which,  in hastain’s verbal laboratory, spins with dizzingly infinite possibility. Here are “meaningful dishevelments,” hybrid entities “refusing frame” as they “kill and eat phonates” while “emulsifying expressiveness.” Here are cyborgs and “plump doves,” all defying categorization as they affirm the ever-human desire for individuation. I adore this book–for its frightening precision in the face of ambiguity, for its ambition and bravery. This is a kick in many anatomical places, and those anatomical places, in hastain’s world, are always subject to the morph and switch. This is evolutionary brilliance. This is authenticity that’s been busted out of its myth. -N icole Mauro

Here, in an unbroken series of “amorous epistles,” is writing reaching beyond the envelope of familiar language transfer to touch and explore its beloved–not a single one, but perhaps a single one who is all in one–the one reaching, the one reached for, that which is touched– an “effort to understand oneself through the world’s understanding/or repudiation of a world’s/functionality of the shroud.”
Moving in and out from a horizon of empathy and desire, encompassing larger and smaller sweeps of love, these thrusts leave a space alive with their own contrails. - Reed Bye

possible cover Forensics-1

j/j hastain, Forensics of the Chamber, Argos Books, 2013.

I refuse to be full of empty.
There are too many visceral ecologies
that could be rung if they
could only be found.
–j/j hastain
A profoundly generative body of work, this collection of interspersed poems and collages make lush and mysterious visual/verbal gems that reveal the presence of a vital imagination at play. This is truly an inter-species book, part image, part story, part human and part wilderness.
Kristen Stone interviews j/j hastain re: mimetic-shameless
 What’s at the bottom of the sea?
 Florence (of Florence+the Machine) would say that a deepest relief is at the bottom of the sea (“Fractured moonlight on the sea/ Reflections still look the same to me/ As before I went under/ And it’s peaceful in the deep/ Cathedral where you cannot breathe…”) and I have to agree with her. After all, she is a genius with those feral dresses and acerbic dancers, with the small warbler (caught (or kept?) in her throat)-vibrato that she has going on. 
I often ponder the bottom of the sea as an ultimate, an undying emancipation site. It is dirty and evermore itinerant down there. Objects, shorn hair, scraps of paper, guillotined human and animal heads and doll heads can all roll around in the mud; these can continue to be buried and dug up by the incessant push and pull of the waves. To be unconditionally spun in a silted wavelength seems to me that it would be infinitely redeeming; perhaps we are considering not only what exists at the bottom of the sea, but how the sea relates to the base of its own abyssmality. What is more cosmically communal than a roiling decadence wherein differences in decree, quality of decisions made and from whence one has descended are no longer separating regiments but instead are inclusive essence, ever adding to qualitative and content-oriented congeal?
A long time ago I got a tattoo of an anatomically correct human heart entangled and interweaving with Riftia the giant bivalve mollusk (which expresses itself in form, as a worm that blooms). Like many extremophiles the blooming worm’s strand-y selvage thrives in underwater strain, does well as an inhabitant of pressure. Upon realization that (in my past) I was not successfully integrating much of excess sensation that I was experiencing (and that that lack of integration was making a sense of sanity very difficult for me) I supposed that having an ulterior heart, a place in which to store some of the much within me, could only help me with desired integration. I am an innervating system that is at the bottom of the sea (of me) too.
 image
What’s your earliest childhood memory (that you feel like sharing)?
Interestingly enough the memory is not of me as a presence in any form of a present-tense, but is of my little (doll-like) purple corduroy pants and berry purple socks and purple matching shirt. These items (along with many others: folded lamp shades, plastic baggies filled with trinkets, ribbons, golden Christmas balls (?)) were stored in a dark brown plastic trashcan (literally plastic right in the middle of the living room: you could kick it!). My father made a wooden, round top (so that the trashcan could be ‘closed’ and then draped with a blue tablecloth and a white lace doily-thingy and come off as a table) for it: he was good at creating inventive ways of holding things together.
It does not surprise me that when I try and trace back, what feels to me like my childhood memory (that is furthest into the past) is a crumpled doppelganger or phantom of me (in the form of creased clothes). That is so very much how my memory works: (precise and organized) folds, layers and frills all entangled (as if preparing to writhe or dishevel at any moment) within an enclosure. I return and return again to the cave.
 How/where do you write?
 In my body.
Whether forefront pitches or background surrounds, both collaborate to swallow pages into me before they ever make it out again.  
In reading over this interview for grammar assistance, my Beloved insisted that I tell you this:  “j/j writes more than anyone I’ve ever known. On the trail, in the car, in the middle of Whole Foods, on napkins.  Panic sets in when the book is under the seat in the car and cannot be located. I have to pull over the car on the highway so that we are able to find the notebook and return it to j/j’s hands (its rightful place). Books upon books upon books worth of writing.”
 How do you “balance” writing with being a person?
Hmm. Interesting question. I think that without pages and without living the Beloved in form (both by a vigorous volition) I would have no sense (at all) of a personhood worth living. It is for this reason that I am saying that the two (writing and personhood) are not intrinsically at odds for me. They are not two poles in competition. Let’s just say that writing is a position of the heart (and that pages filled up are in many ways irrelevant to that definition). If the heart is in poise, prepared for or preparing by a writing heart, then we are at once, writer and person. Aspects in motion together are always what makes the mirror cum.
How does one be a person?
In questions about human-ness or personhood I always start with the angel (or any other version of embodied ephemera). When the angel opens each of the lockets (not in succession, so, by chaos) teeming around its neck (like unpolluted ocean space teems with multicolored fish) what does it see in each of them? Versions. It is difficult to know if one visage is preferred over the others. Is there one way we are meant to be? Are we preordained to a particular singularity? Do we remain as many unforeseen or still-buried subtleties regardless of if we are trying to focus ourselves so intently in as a one?
I drive my person by desperate and intentional embodiment of me. In moving by vision and volition I can ensure that I constantly align my needs with what I have inherited (of history or socialization or public space) and that combination is (for me) a way to experience fulfillment.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year ? (Or several best books):
Oh goodness. I don’t know if I can do favorites. I love so many of them. I can however make a list of good ones:
Bible: Song of Songs of Solomon
Maureen Seaton’s Sex Talks to Girls
Tod Thilleman’s Sketches in Norse and Forra
Rilke’s Stories of God
Laynie Brown’s Acts of Levitation
Do you live with any animals?
One of my favorite pages that I ever wrote honored Frankenstein and a cow (in a moment of meaningful collaboration). No, don’t be afraid: this is not a bestiality story. Frankie is queer, you see, and after finally getting inside, he leans up against the unsuspecting and neutral cow whose residence is the slightly dilapidated barn. It is dusk and together, they are both the shared middle of a snow storm. The townsfolk have been chasing Frankie. Frankie’s breasts (from bouncing even with the ace-bandage binding) and strap-on (strapping gnawing at the bare legs) are hurting from forced rubbing as Frankie has been running.
I see monsters as versions of animals, and I live with myself so, yes, I live with animals. My husbandwife often says “you’re my favorite monster” which means without even intending to I am the alpha animal in our house (I see my husbandwife as an embodiment of Merlin, so she is more magical-beard, more holy land to me than animal).
Our peace lilies are also wonderful presences (though in a very different way than monstrous). They droop and moan really loudly when they need attention (at least I experience their need as loud). Maybe that is a monstrous, animal quality of me: being compelled by the sound of chlorophyll. I mean, plants and meat are forms of edible lace.
 image
unthinkablecreatures.tumblr.com/


j/j hastain, cadences: cultivating cadences to invert the given creed, Triton Books, 2012.

At the beginning of cadences, j/j hastain announces that rather than the conventional model of opposing artifice to the body and the natural, artifice will very much interact with the body, the “pungent colony.” That is not to say that it’s a peaceful relation. In the very same first poem, hastain demands that the reader/lover burn their body when they die, except for the genitals and mouth, which are to be given to other lovers, like both works of art and art’s mediums. - Johannes Gorranson

Words that have never been next to each other are next to each other now, lines that gut, a swarm of pink moths on your eyeskin. When hastain writes “We must create different versions of us to sound out the wounds on,” you will do so willingly. Cadences is a dissection of love and space and sex that will teach you the new gender-language while pulling your chest open. - Sarah Rose Etter

Body transitivity is an ever-shifting locus in this work of thrilling prosody.-Brenda Iijima

j/j hastain’s cadences is a cosmogony beyond biologies and historicized inheritance. Xir attention to “speech-verge” whispers of hybrid contexts, communicating new cadences of tongue and “tone as a kind of kink.” In the “ulterior” cellular sound there is a push for a “new eden” that opens harmonies into harmonics. It is “matriarchal-kingly,” storied by “queer saints” and a “trans eucharist” (the becoming versions of body). There is “no eve and no adam,” only lovers in search of a consecrated crossing, committed to the somatic and the semantic.-Frank Sherlock

At the very beginning of cadences, j/j hastain announces that rather than the conventional model of opposing artifice to the body and the natural, artifice will very much interact with the body, the “pungent colony.” That is not to say that it’s a peaceful relation. In the very same first poem, hastain demands that the reader/lover burn their body when they die, except for the genitals and mouth, which we are to give to other lovers, like both works of art and art’s mediums. Violence against the body is a persistent motif in this collection; violence pierces and punctures the body, but not for the sake of damaging it, as much as to open it up to a “trans” state, a “spasming” aesthetic space where “black sand and pearls” are “being poured into one another.” The book takes us into an increasingly (wonderfully) Elizabethan idea of poetry: “I once covered you with dried rose heads and strips of words.” The spasming “tryst”, the art of these poems spasms back and forth in time as well as gender and love: “oh luminous anarchies!” Johannes Gorranson Words that have never been next to each other are next to each other now, lines that gut, a swarm of pink moths on your eyeskin. This book is a garden of “blood blooms” that will stop your breath. When hastain writes “We must create different versions of us to sound out the wounds on,” you’ll do so willingly. cadences is a dissection of love and space and sex that will teach you the new gender-language while pulling your chest open.   Sarah Rose Etter “Making the body as the body is making”—this is the major project of cadences. Body transitivity is an ever-shifting locus in this work of thrilling prosody. Body ideation as “we eroticize our own gists”: body iterations, body play, body enthralling and body motility. The outcome is endless, there is no culmination. j/j’s work places the participant in a biome where revelatory becoming is a forever. Brenda Iijima Cadences, j/j hastain’s mesmerizing and daring new book, sings of the struggle to be visibly indecipherable yet decidedly human, on the move, metaphorical, “in transit,” or “as transits.” Human bodies move and are moved, contra static attempts at pronunciation or assignment, contra binarisms and racializations, against these processes which might end up the only categorically binding constant that can form us into a “we” in the first place. Across, underneath, away from and through existing social constraint groans, gurgles, and other timbres and tonalities are stuttering forth. Does the song of acknowledging the multifoliate human form of cadences’ lovers—their embodied and nurtured variousness and multiplicity—come with them from the “new eden” that grew around their love? How do we exist in a world outside normative signs of value? Can we make such a world at all past these importantly complex pages? In opening this vulnerable, human, desiring book of sacred song we are invited to find out. Invited to do so as an act of struggle, as experiment in sound and embodiment, as a “sojourn” with the real and urgent stakes of lives that love under siege, as a ritual archeology of the residue of bodies that question, want, and need—together. With its energetic activisms and with all its refusals-as-prosodic movements towards insurrection—with that “I” “saying a bell that groans instead of rings”—here, at cadences, is where future social-economic histories have room to imply themselves. Here is where the subaltern engagements of our species, multiple loves and entanglements, multiple ((de)gendered) forms moving across the furniture of the press, multiple and usually unacknowledged or oppressed ways of being in the world turn visible as having been performed. -   David Wolach

In the afterward to cadences, you mention that the book works with "language in an attempt at making new constructions that refuse binary norms and enable multiplicity." Could you explain, perhaps in a bit more detail and pointing to particular instances, how specific language in cadences achieves this goal?
Thank you! I would say that as much as cadences attempts this goal of enabling multiplicity and refusing (torqueing, altering) binary norms, it “achieves” it. I would love to explain how the attempts/intents work/ed for me.
First off, the entire book is a large scale progression from what could be termed poetry to what could be termed prose. By poetry (called “divergent virago” in cadences (eg: “shared/we are/coming/to identify as a realm wherein/the vivid feels”)) I mean, pages whose obsessions include line breaks. By prose (called “cultivating cadences to invert the given creed” in cadences (eg: “on that brink or this one, compressed and drenched feathers are often mistaken for human blood”)) I mean pages whose obsessions include the flow of language, the elongation of lines into stretches in a continuity. There is a middle section of the book (called “in desperate pursuit of non-vaginal virginities or “now that we are here what other ways are there for us to cross”” in cadences (eg: “It helps to not be able to see the sky or the ground. Instead such concentrated elaborate mid. A marsupium unearthing. We/ eat phallic shapes/ in public”)) that blends both of the above stated obsessions. I see the mid-book as a location that expresses a healthy refute/alternate to the poetry/prose binary.
cadences was composed in the above stated regard intentionally, in order to provide and establish a path (parallel) to enable embodied examination of the binaries of masculine/feminine and male/female. It was important to me that the poetry/prose binary be turned into a poetry-third thing-prose place (the seeming poles brought together and connected by something of more duration than a hinge (as is often at the middle of a binary). I wanted to create the sense of a ‘third thing’ holding space, a boat (that thought it bares the historical weight of having two ends) that had enough (a blend) of both poetry and prose obsessions in it for it to offer realm, croft, a hearty, meaty middle (as opposed to it offering only a hinge and the poles on either side of that hinge).
Much of the content of cadences is artful undermining of the traditional masculine/feminine and male/female binaries (“a completely sexless body/with projections and holograms/of both unforeseen/adams and eves over it” and “you whisper to me/ tell me to slide back onto your/strapping/but only when I am ready/I slide/slowly/backward/feel you filling/that this is a gender is a sex/is a grandeur/far/beyond/frill” and “is woman to man at times a mistaken carcass?”). This is definitely my intent/attempt. I had a dream the other night that to be part of the ‘cult of beauty’ (whatever that means? I remember the actual phrase from the dream itself) is to embody beauty’s capacity to include many varying particulars. For as far back as I can remember I have longed for particular forms of public space which include the variances (and thereby are capable of accurately addressing the needs) of the queer body. My work to have the content of cadences be inclusive is my effort to compose and reify just such public space I have long yearned for. I am learning that it is better (for me) to compose and generate the spaces that would most hold me (if they were offered to me by another) by way of my being an active agent in such spaces’ generation.
One of the ways that I am an active agent for inclusive/queer space is through sound. I mention that here, because to me, sound is the great substitute for any either or (binary) scenario. In cadences I approached sound by both ear and content and provide the following examples: ear-“which means/always amidst/a stratum of mixed” and “poppet in need of being translated” and “to be an askew averting,” content- “this makes us royalty based in tactile sibilance.”
What is the opposite of sound? The answer?—NA: not applicable. It is much more applicable to query the purposes of sound. If sound is itself the queer alternate to binary norms, and sound is the combination of many different frequencies within a large scale movement or event, then perhaps sound is multiplicity enabled. When you read the book do you feel the sound loops gently rocking you on the boat? I do. My soul is sound, and I will consider your soul as sound too, if you choose to self-define in that way.
You mention that one of the ways that you are "an active agent for inclusive/queer space is through sound." But when attempting to vocalize (perhaps) a trans body or persona, the speaker of the collection, at times, is unable to sound. I'm thinking specifically of the passage: "This more than woman or man or _______________________" (179). Likewise, there even seems to be a desire not to sound, as in: "perhaps after the work of books and forms and bodies / we will find a hushed place to play" (30). Could you address these excerpts in relation to your concept of sounding as space creation?
Ah yes, thank you. This is an inviting question. I would say that the speaker in cadences (when they use the dash to communicate (179)) is attempting to have a sounding space (the book) inclusive enough that there be room enough for a you to feel at home there. I consider the dash in reference more as content than as gap or blankness, actually. It was something I put there to court out and into the book (by way of a you, a reader) what else exists besides woman or man. Sort of like, please, fill this, make this moment studded, plethoric (based on your own experiences of divergence). Sort of like a clarifying, stone mandala that remains in an environment, a public space that a you can visit at any time, in any season, in any mood. In other words, fill this dash in with your own sound, please!
In regard to the quote you referenced (30), this is interesting. I see “a hushed place to play” as somewhere that is not at all not sounding, but perhaps alleviated from external noise, meaningless chatter, T.V. static, historicized dogma, the radiating hum of traffic, your parents yelling at you because you are telling them for the fortieth time that in order for you to come to Thanksgiving they have to call you by a different pronoun than they want to, etc. I want to hear the flag blowing in the gentle wind. I want to be able to attend to the subtle buzz of the growing plants, to know when to water them before they show signs of their need.
Perhaps more than anything else though, the above referenced quotes and examples are sites (in cadences) that articulate the human wish for reprieve (which re cadences is definitely not found in some void or in silence or in lack).
Your question also makes me want to mention that the space of the book is not my property (just because I work as agent within it does not mean I am writing it for “me”). cadences is the sensory property (as a feeling space, a somatic ashram) of the commons.
I do think it is important that as sounding agents, we consider what to do with gaps or limits or voids--the ethics involved in that. I see it as integral to consider how to make bridges out of our own skin or volition.
The poems or lyric essays of cadences are rather long; and, as an audience member, I read them as “strange, misty sequences” that explore the intersection of language and the body. What does composing a longer piece offer to you, as a writer (and to the reader as well), that shorter texts cannot or do not provide? 
First off I want to say that the comment that will follow is not a comment against shorter texts. The length and the mists of cadences are not in any way opposite to short works. Opposition is not their nature or their agenda. Let’s just get that out of the way.
I agree with you that the poems or lyric essays are strange, misty. I guess that the fact that they are longer, wandering, stretchy, ellipsis-like has to do with my wish for a lightning flash to remain with us longer than it does. I wish with passion on behalf of the lightning flashes that would keep the sky open and validated for a bit longer than what is thought to be usual.
Alchemical inductions of enigma, nourishments of enigma, the body being courted, cultivated and counted on as the materiality of enigma; all of these are what I am offered when composing longer, misty work.
Your bringing in the notion that the work is an exploration of “the intersection of language and the body” feels very accurate to me. As a queer person who writes and makes things, the two (language and body) are indelible priorities of mine. I hope that cadences sings by way of them! - Interview by Joshua Ware



j/j hastain & t thilleman, Approximating Diapason: or, How to Milk the Con and the In, Spuyten Duyvil, 2012.

j/j and tt make a correspondence in Emerson’s sense—the original green building, if you will—when two have the inside with the outside. They begin with the commercial (the outside, publishing industry’s inside), and the correspondence grows organically from there to include exchanges on the nature of sexuality (both inside and manifest on the social outside) and the relevance of the mythological in our postmodern living (tracing myth back to origins, inside ancient humans, but in the context of literature, which is outside us and socializing). I come away from reading their high-energy 300-plus pages with my clearest sense to date—and I have been wrestling with psychomachiatic truths for several years now—of what amounts to a statement for our generation on the significance of Poetry. —Rich Blevins

Approximating Diapason is a dialogic manifesto. Not unlike André Breton’s manifestoes, this vortex of language volleys back and forth to create both poetry and a poetics for our current period of literature. Some critics opine that the arts at this juncture lack direction. They ask: Where is the spirit of innovation that initially forged Modernism? How many times can the prefix “post” get glued onto the word “modern” before it loses relevance and meaning? Struggling to find a mythos to convey our early 21st century malaise, hastain and thilleman approximate a “diapason,” a “fixed standard of pitch,” a “compass of a voice.” But because existing notions about literature have led us in circles, the authors “leap into existences from a transcendent root-stem.”
They land in a terrain “between dark matter and material form,” in what Jean-Martin Charcot called the “Second Mind,” what Freud would later call the “unconscious.” In that place of unknowing, where all things are possible, hastain and thilleman create an ontological mythos of Self and Poem. Here, they chart new territories, mapping their astonishing discoveries like cartographers.
This resulting notation combines prose, poetry, photography, drawings, and typographical innovations. It is a “poetics of pages,” giving voice to our current dilemma not by writing about it, but by the enactment of language/pictorial imagery.
It seems essential to this project that there be two voices speaking—a dialogue. The Socratic dialogues allowed for a deeper investigation of ideas. For greater understanding of any issue, dialogue is essential. Its structure is dialectic: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. It is the reconciliation of antitheses, a fusing: “Yes, we swerve. But we swerve to meet.”
Without union, there can be no creation. And so, poetry is also erotic. Like the etymology of the word “poem,” a “made thing,” poetry and poetics are connected to the body. While line breaks may conform to patterns of breath and iambs may be imitative of the heartbeat, hastain and thilleman’s poetics embodies sexuality: “When we speak, we are actually always performing fellatio.” 
Perhaps the pronoun “we” is collective, not only signifying the two authors, but also the multifarious voices and points of view that inhabit contemporary literature. As Whitman writes, “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / I am large, I contain multitudes.” hastain and thilleman’s mythos is of a literature that is also large and divergent. Its voices shriek, murmur, yowl—often in contradiction, yet always part of an ever-increasing whole: its multifarious we becoming a “multifarious am.”  -

 
treooa

Eileen R. Tabios & j/j hastain, treOOA: the relational elations of ORPHANED ALGEBRA, Marsh Hawk Press, 2012.


Eileen R. Tabios’s ORPHANED ALGEBRA performs numerations of loss, want, abandonment, the conditions of the invisible. Riffing on middle school math story problems, Tabios works a mathematics of disorder, the unordering of poverty, these “stories” a corrective to the “ascetic’s illusion of ecstasy, a measurement made possible by its condition precedent: a suffering so unmitigated it hollows the non-survivors from children to earthworms.” j/j hastain’s “visceral echoes” of Tabios, “gestures” both textual and visual, sound “an activism of hollowing out,” whose hollows form a new space of assiduity. In “stance”—instance—hastain “grapple[s] with ethics of place and space. Was a country the host body of a child found homeless in it?” Who and where are we, and what role has language in any of this? Against abuse, against hunger, against erasure, Tabios and hastain challenge silence’s dissonant ignorance. The poets sharpen language and intention, “Creating a permanent, rather than temporary implantable. An anti-obviate hutch or hearth.” A challenge, a new “home,” a pleasure, this collection puts us in the midst.—Marthe Reed

Categories are not abstractions, they are bodies. Family is one such embodied category, gender another. What happens to bodies when they don’t fit the categories assigned them, when they lack families, when they criss-cross gender or genre lines? How can one calculate such changes, compose equations to explain these trans-categorical shifts? Our very pronouns are at stake, as are nations, blood-ties, definitions to words like “dad” and “belonging.” As j/j hastain writes, “There is a new lineage that we are trying to make more apparent.” Eileen R. Tabios and hastain are trans-parents to a fresh embodiment of words and bodies, and to what they mean when they come together as books and persons. Their writing counts the change(s) in unexpected vocabularies.—Susan M. Schultz

Tabios and hastain are most engaged in what happens when relation between persons occurs, or between genders within persons, namely in the TRANS of their "relational elations."  They are fascinated by displacements, yes, but also in "active placements," whether those are adoptive relationships within families or within individuals whose gender-identities are not normative.  These placements require new words, new pronouns, new definitions of family.  They require new stories. // ... It's that "listening differently" that is the real TRANS in Tabios's and hastain's book; it's a trans that risks appropriation.  hastain is not, nor ever has been a "real" orphan, although xe has experienced gender (and generic) displacements.  When a body rises into metaphor, it can easily be "assumed" to be something it is not.  But better to take that risk than to leave these trans-travelers solely to their solitudes.  It is the place "of someone finally watching" (66).  This watching is not espionage but witness, not "at" but "with," insofar as "withness" is possible.
— Jacket2  https://jacket2.org/commentary/new-thresholds-new-anatomies

The gift, we recall, of feminist theoreticism is the paradigm shift. Tabios and hastain place this at the eros of collaboration, and that’s its success: that the recognition of difference might make unlike circumstances empathetic frameworks. Begun through appropriated “word problems” from grammar school math equations, Tabios is able to ask, “What algebraic relationship moved you to bestow on mundane pigeons the halos of peace and other faux debris from trawling old memories of desire-ridden imagination that would come to plummet into ruin?” Transcendent then of equation, the series is able to interrogate “remainders” of information fallen outside the easiness of “whole sets,” or any given. In response, hastain posits xir own questions regarding the crepuscular—O favored of poetic words!—and relational identities: “Patina does relate to positing. Scratches secrets into the underside of blocks or blocs. That stone did hold that child’s expression.” The pairing also invites each poet’s critical reception of xir collaborator, as well as a startling sequence of stances through which hastain permutates “different set[s] of lovers” approaching the limit of Tabios’s partial problematic: What is a[p]parent? —YELLOW FIELD 6

Orphaned Algebra (#64)
"...you will engage in error analysis and mathematical reasoning to build critical thinking"
—About California Math 1 by Ron Larson, Laurie Boswell, Timothy D. Kanold and Lee Stiff (McDougal Littell, a division of Houghton Mifflin, Evanston, IL, 2008)
The wind chill factor measures the cold based on temperature and wind speed. The wind chill factor was 18 degrees Fahrenheit at 8:00 a.m. but dropped to a negative 14 degrees Fahrenheit by 1:00 p.m.  What was the change in the wind chill factor?  Should the change have been affected by the tremble of your hand when you remembered how you failed to grow the most infinitesimal portion of an inch during three years of orphanage existence?  What if I told you the original human was born as an adult from a split bamboo—would that diminish the nightmares ever-clawing at your mind’s eye like the windblown branches during a recent storm? Did you hear me when I tried to soothe, “No, mi hija—they are not reaching through the glass to trade their limbs for yours…”?  How many years will collapse before you turn to me one day during some unforetold moment of radical happiness—perhaps your wedding day replete with white light, white roses, white silk, white lace, all the white pearls I possess and lucid champagne?—and whisper with an unhidden note of chastisement: “Mama, glass is easily broken…”?

From
EPHEMERAL ALLELES MORE THAN      ALLEGED
            OR      INVENTED ORGANS AS ALLIES
THAT CAUSTIC CAUSEWAYS DO OR DO NOT KILL CONSCIOUSNESS: Pigment resulting from a feat or a series of feats. Patina does relate to positing. Scratches secrets into the undersides of blocks or blocs. That stone did hold that child’s expression. Like blood holds the body from within it. There is a new lineage that we are trying to make more apparent. Not by blood but by rocking the restlessness until it is out. Their appendages are exposed yet probing. If only to offer you some of this surplus or succor. Chitinous cusp. A carapace then its splitting. Upheaved’s relation to grief or grief’s eventual replacement. What replacements for bereaved or abandoned allegiances? “Promise me.” A warm body. A bolt of linen. A levitating brevity.

Speaking with Eileen Tabios: Bloodjet Writing Hour
Early Praise: Eileen Tabios
Review: S Schultz at Jacket 2
Review: The New Mystics
Review: Boston Area Small Press
Review: G Harp on Amazon
Review: The Tributary
Review: Galatea Resurrects
Poem at Okir



j/j hastain, Female Versions of Christ, zimZalla, 2012.

Female Versions of Christ is a set of nine texts accompanied by eight illuminations. The texts, printed on high quality textured card, are discrete but kindred blocks, obliquely referenced and counterpointed by the illuminations, which are full color collages, printed on transparencies. The texts and illuminations are in labelled envelopes, with these envelopes in turn housed inside a full color outer envelope.

Communication has always been as much about the means as the message. Think of the Gutenberg Bible, that particular font used. It is not only that heavy black font emphasising the gravitas of the content, but also the binding, the end boards, and further the size, thickness, weight, that is, the sheer heft of the artefact: all are part and parcel of the message.
Think of illuminated manuscripts, of how image and text embody one another in those capitals. In the margins we have all the possibilities of reading the cultural history of their period, as well as the presumed eternal un-period that the text was thought to encompass. This window into a period, and how all successive periods have continued to value the text both for the message and as an artefact in itself, tell us much about humanity.
And so if we were presented with artefacts relating to female versions of Christ, we instantly read here: belief as artefact; artefact as gendered; text as image of belief; image as dependent on, and independent of belief, text, and message.
The work consists a packet of two envelopes, each labelled in elaborate, heavy black script Texts, and Illuminations.
The Texts envelope consists of nine cards of text, of between six to eight lines each. All are in engineered text, that is, text that has undergone electronic reproduction. This, in turn, gives a sense of the impersonal, of a distanced text, that has presentation and deliberate structuring techniques written into it.
The texts combine many genres of material, call upon varied fields of knowledge; the fields are blended, juxtaposed, ‘sewn’. There are therefore cryptic, gnomic structures. And yet there is a through-line as well. The reader dips in and out of acquiescence with the through-line as he/she reads. We therefore sew together, as we interact, another take on the whole; we produce, in effect, an extra-dimensioned artefact.
The Illuminations envelope consists of eight acetates. Each contains collided images in beautifully rendered colours. These collided images consist in turn of contemporary footage of, say, architectural structures, and anatomical images; some of these are treated, others not. We have images from a wide variety of sources. There are many ways these collisions are structured, from seemingly straightforward juxtaposing of disparate images, through to overlaying. Each acetate is highly suggestive of interpretive reading, and yet at the same time resistant to such.
When we combine the more deliberative textual elements with the acetates we can arrange and rearrange as we will. Readings multiply, over-ride, undermine; they fire-up the creative aspect.
So what are the female versions of Christ? Why Christ? Why female? Why?
Our gendered concepts of Christ are first-world, Western, European, with origins in Middle-eastern  tribal mores, and archaic institutionalised religions. In effect to focus on the figure of Christ is to zero-in on the very centre of Western mental attitudes, their horrible blunders, blindnesses, as well as the acme of human striving.
It could be said, therefore, that what this work is doing is suggesting ways of casting the fired-up creative aspect, in place of a corrupted ideal. - michael9murray.wordpress.com/
gutturalsilkmakenewgongcoverthumb
j/j hastain, guttural silk make new gong, Unlikely Stories Press, 2012.

guttural silk make new gong is a new chapbook of poems and photographic “poem-cells”  by author j/j hastain. It includes seventeen intricate textual poems and four visual pieces on the subject of sex and love, approached transcendentally and transformationally. It includes an Afterword by Jonathan Penton.
The e-book is completely free!

product_thumbnail

j/j hastain, The Yet to be Pronounced Pronouns, On-Line Version of the Book at LRL e-editions, 2012.

If Georges Bataille were a queer living in San Francisco in 2012, this could be xem, building and dismantling gender, that is, building and dismantling form itself. j/j hastain is writing a no-holds-barred break-neck love song that conflates the meaty and the sacramental. Here is love’s avid desire for detail, and love’s sacred, impossible overflow.—Robert Gluck

Whether it’s he or xe…of the yet to be pronounced pronouns, there’s one thing I’m sure of: while the pronouns might not yet be, what is certainly, forcefully here already is a sense of the atomic forces that lie buried within our wider programming. Of gender; of social form, of virility caught in its code. Hastain breaks these apart, not as categories, but as strings of language itself, as pure image. I see this as a bit more than a book–kind of a larger action whereby hastain releases charged, energies into the frame, turning their blurry fury as gently in the hand as a baby bird’s feather. And damn the science. Companionable but aching, explosive and tenderly hilarious, this is a catastrophic, new bravery.
Brandon Downing
 
Co-Interview between j/j hastain and Jared Hayes

ridingthelace
j/j hastain, riding the lace barometer, ISMs Press, 2012.

Prepare for an in-deep partaking of strange yet powerful “folds as they enshrine a gorgeous hysteria”, because that is part of what hastain’s poetic encounters will be placing upon you. Juliet Cook

Reading riding the lace barometer, by j/j hastain, is a romp, moist with nuance; a sexual communion with self. This debut, forested in what was once termed ‘the secrets’, is a feast of exploration, throwing open all doors. Think a dirty weekend down the rabbit hole, a tea party with e.e.cummings, Kim Addonizio and Anais Nin, trading memoirs of tender raunch, then RSVP!Adele C. Geraghty

aboveground
j/j hastain, we / cum ::: come / in the yield fields / amongst statues with interior arms, above/ground press, 2012.

in this chapbook j/j hastain offers us prose poems that treat abstract concepts as tangible objects: “Liquid light or herds of manic.” Much of the work deals with gender as fluid, as a non binary construct: “Gender here, our interactive contour.” The text is full of unique & dream-like imagery, poignant observations, provocative paradoxes: “Extracting blossoms from a slaughter house.” “A single ant carries the large body of a splayed moth.” The poems are chock full of sensuality, poems formed of sentences of varying lengths & styles that careen drunkenly & wildly along. The work is visually strong. I can easily imagine some of these poems being illustrated with paintings or as surreal films” Like the rust colored sunflower that (while soft on its exterior) when cut turns the water it depends on bright pink.” The author is a skilled soundsmith, each sentence deliberately muted or cacophonous, depending on hastain’s intent.Amanda Earl

The yellow cover, as you can see, is thinner than the interior pages, beginning with that pale lavender page. It’s as if the cover cannot contain what is inside. It’s a perfect visual metaphor for how so many of hastain’s poems — including this chap-length one — work: the poems reach out for engagement and often succeed. I love this highly-effective cover design!Eileen Tabios
Review by Eileen Tabios
Review by Edric Mesmer

j/j hastain, performing Chod until post-natural indigenes, Grey Book Press, 2012.

hastain deviate[s] and diverge[s] away from standard sexual scriptures, standard genital behavior, and other standard expectations in that realm and create[s] a whole new portal or devotional force field – for those who diverge from the norm, choose to create their own bodies, and desire to continually focus upon and experiment with those bodies. -Juliet Cook

 
j/j hastain, our bodies are beauty inducers, Queer Mojo (A Rebel Satori Imprint), 2011.

our bodies are beauty inducers is a fantastic and fantastical exploration of gender and the physical ground upon which it plays. hastain's words explode the amorphous domain where bodies and beauty meet. Electrifying and kinetic, hastain s work shatters and reassembles the physical into intersecting recombinant zones of meaning: the physical induces beauty in the eyes of the other and true beauty received by the other removes otherness...

 Study and ceremony: a voyage through the inner and outer rings of eros as way into the depth and intensity of what is called love. First, the orgasmic lift to primordial who-we-are-ness floor by floor, department-by-department, permeable border- by-border, then the reflective intelligence-absorption of that expansiveness reached. j/j has discovered Walt Whitman s secret inner-body elevator and transcribes and elucidates for us its ride. --Reed Bye

What completes a body? What is the furious, stripped site from which all newness is generated ? This book, formatted to soak up all the color, asks its sticky and indelible reader to consider/eat the relationship between fragmentation and bliss. Are you hungry? Do you want to read so hard you have bite marks afterwards? I suspected as much. I m a little hungry too. --Bhanu Kapil

j/j hastain s our bodies are beauty inducers offers entrance into brutal anatomies, the subtle panic that comes with revealing form, intimacy and the elimation of space between confession and lovers. While offering much precision and introspection into retracted distances hastain allows the page itself to breathe, become breathless, for readers to gasp at the exposure of their own fantasies pinned beneath weight and rocked against headboards, identities gushing with texture. This text has stained my body; the nurturing inertia of hands has seduced me, has exposed the fluidly episodic sensuality in body language. --Joe Cooper

The amazingly prolific j/j hastain has a new collection out from Rebel Sotori Press called our bodies are beauty inducers. The book can be purchased here.
Reed Bye says: “Study and ceremony: a voyage through the inner and outer rings of eros as way into the depth and intensity of what is called love. First, the orgasmic lift to primordial who-we-are-ness floor by floor, department-by-department, permeable border- by-border, then the reflective intelligence-absorption of that expansiveness reached. j/j has discovered Walt Whitman’s secret inner-body elevator and transcribes and elucidates for us its ride.”
Bhanu Kapil says: “What ‘completes’ a body?  What is the furious, stripped site ‘from which all newness is generated’?  This book, formatted to soak up all the color, asks its ‘sticky’ and ‘indelible’ reader to consider/eat the relationship between fragmentation and bliss.  Are you hungry?  Do you want to read so hard you have ‘bite marks’ afterwards?  I suspected as much.  I’m a little hungry too.”
Travis Macdonald says: “j/j’s work is the new shamanism. Each intoxicating incantation, each ritualized variation of syntax, each disparate element stitched…amounts to a dangerous spell set to stir in the readers gut. Whether for minutes, days or weeks it boils its way to the head. Beware.”
Joe Cooper says: “j/j hastain’s our bodies are beauty inducers offers entrance into ‘brutal anatomies,’ the ‘subtle panic’ that comes with revealing form, intimacy and the elimation of space between confession and lovers.  While offering much precision and introspection into retracted distances hastain allows the page itself to breathe, become breathless, for readers to gasp at the exposure of their own fantasies ‘pinned beneath weight’ and rocked against headboards, identities gushing with texture.  This text has stained my body; the nurturing inertia of hands has seduced me, has exposed the ‘fluidly episodic’ sensuality in body language.”
Aimee Herman says: “j/j hastain’s body is like paper…like this book…an isbn’ed version of texture and constantly shifting translation. It folds and can be turned in several directions. It can be read upside down and may splinter off if pulled too hard. It begs to be pulled apart. In our bodies are beauty inducers, j/j places speakers throughout the flesh-clothed skeleton, in crevices that often get ignored, allowing a tongue and teeth to be placed sporadically in constructed mouth in order to create sound. This book is as intimate as breathing in one’s morning or fondling unhealed scars. It is a sensual and emotional portrayal of love, shifting gender and relationship of what turns one on. The space and gaps j/j constructs on each page creates a dialogue with digestion. It is a chant of the found self, due to years of searching and transcribing. We may be locked up, drawers with rusted handles, too fragile to be opened. Luckily, j/j whispers WD40 into the webbed/cracked/burnt places of the hidden gender, the hidden desire, the watered down body that craves various measures of tidal waves. We are reading the hieroglyphics beneath skin, below the moans and pressed against pulled out orgasms. This is a breakdown, breakthrough, and break-in of bodies colliding, communicating and growing new cells through slow-motioned language.” - sayitwithstones

Review: Tom Becker at Galatea Resurrects
Review: Aimee Herman at Rebel Satori Press



j/j hastain, a womb-shaped wormhole, BlazeVOX, 2011.

Humans and cyborgs alike! Authorize yourselves reading the demand for desire in j/j hastain’s a womb-shaped wormhole. Participate in the co-construction of a new mythos. Graft various inertias of the unicorn. Irrupt while you re-symbolize experience. Find the void; hold it. Engage the if of the pre in the body. Traverse fantasy with libido. Enter a unicorn boudoir. Simultaneously employ polysemous proprioception and negative capability. Become poly-multi-gendered. Manifest sculptural concrete erotic relief. Become the real of body: the coagulation of earth. Permeate the trans imagination. Trace performances of the unicorn. It is so necessary. You can do it! Read it! Read it now! —Jared Hayes j/j hastain is a seer. Writing from the liminal space between the ethereal and the corporeal, filled with bestiaries of the soul and spine-broken books, hastain has composed "an activist-narrative of place", where the body is but "a fretted tangle" to be worried apart, and then knotted again. Stitched in the language of sinew and fiber, a womb-shaped wormhole is transcendent, stretching past our mere genders, our temporal selves. —Benjamin Winkler In a womb-shaped wormhole j/j is incubating psychic/ biologic language between black and white holes. This book is a tantric system of genders’ sockets. Yearning + its ally= a co. I cannot help but think that I could talk a month on the title alone--here in j/j’s book we get to feel how it feels when walls and woods are pulled away (“though not abandoned”)--we get to skim the tree tips on a bald bed. —Andy Peterson j/j hastain’s book a womb-shaped wormhole is one beginning for a world attempting to make itself in advance of its articulation. But it can be articulated by scents, which is to say, “traces”--like musk, patchouli, mustard, "split truffles," or even attar of long-dead altars and imagined memories. In this beginning lie the orgasms of fractals, revealing how fractions require flesh as condition precedent to existence--for who we may not at first recognize is nonetheless not that different from you and me. —Eileen R. Tabios

Over drinks the other night, I was talking to another poet who said that contemporary poets have moved away from myth. This might be true in a world of word games and carbon copies. However, a womb-shaped wormhole by j/j hastain is not lamentable in this way. “by funnel and by phallic” hastain gives over a “monotone-less monument” in which a mythological avatar, known as the unicorn, gets to know the virgin, while swimming into the virgin & becoming the virgin, thus drawing “the body of the beast to a submissive stance.” I swim in the myth of this; as reader, I enter a new virginity in which the unicorn is tamed, thrown into “positional rest.”
Of course the language here is often sexual, primordial, begging the most eloquent sex rites of ancient scenes where The Great Rite is enacted. A swell up in which “… the unicorn might tear the impending /virgin / into bloody bits.” This is not apologetic, but it is “beloved poise” through which an unseasonal ritual takes place. This is the uncovering of a sacred space that is not a line, but chora uninterrupted & thrashing.
Certainly many traditionalists will be made uncomfortable with this poetics of penetration, for the reader will be unicorn as well as virgin. There is a potency achieved, however, by taking on each of these roles, to reach into the tender regions, to swirl the “pits of papyrus” & feel the mantra.
There is a “she-alternate” which describes the you or the me or the I or the you. “… I no longer have a stopping point / there is no end to you.” This poetics of rewritten virginities, of being made pure via a letters of “utmost secretions,” truly articulates the mood of orgasm, going well beyond the Reichian tone & giving “so much / upcoming grind.” Thus, this is not just a book to be read, but a book to make out with. To feel & experience the “rhizomic resuscitations.”  - Debrah Morkun

Review: Carrie Hunter



j/j hastain, Prurient Anarchic Omnibus, Spuyten Duyvil, 2011.

"A work of rich clear sensual language, of 'thermal tremble and juice,' these poems and photos pull the weaver's threads together, bring focus to 'wherein we can be a root to the sea.' Sinewy lines are constantly 'quoting my biology back to me as vow' and display a 'multi-creative musculature' we desperately need and desire. j/j is the real deal, reclaiming a space for engendered anarchy, opening Pandora's secret treasure trove, playing with fire, sound and love"—Anne Waldman

“Here the elemental ground opens as j/j hastain creates multiple sacred sites, the body as it enlarges and contracts, the meaning as it moves in and out of absence and presence, consciousnesses and its negation: these shrines. Here the text is planted in the image, the life is planted in the book, what of life trembles and transforms as it tries again and again to open into writing. A beautiful and complex anti-memoir, dear weaver of disparates, connects the reader to a yet to be named source “wherein we were a root to the sea.”—Melissa Buzzeo

Prurient anarchic omnibus is a gorgeously ambitious and generous book of experimental ecstatic love poetry; as its very title suggests, it is verbally complex, and it is surely a refreshing and vigorous addition to the contemporary scene. Hastain writes--according to an introductory note--" as a modern Rumi scribing and etching non-linear musics." This important three-paragraph note, which follows the book's acknowledgements and precedes the copyright, not only establishes prurient anarchic omnibus within the tradition of Rumi's mystical writings but it signals to the reader a set of its most salient concerns: newness, modernity, and contemporaneity. Prurient anarchic omnibus is "a book as neoteric lace " that aims to provide "new worlds and/ or new sensations." Indeed, the word "new" occurs three more times within just the book's first four pages: "new places to trust" (1), "a new bio-mimicry " (3), and "a new indigenous / wherein cyborgs can become earth" (4). In addition, one of the book's epigraphs is a significant contextualizing quote from John Cage: " you have to distinguish between the old music which was a music of concept and of the presentation of that concept to us and the new music which is precept and arousal of perception in us." We live in an age, to be sure, that fetishizes technological and aesthetic innovation and novelty; the new--whether actual or rhetorical--is always at risk of being commodified and exploited for hegemonic interests. But hastain's insistence on the new, on the neo-, is grounded in an ethical commitment to registering and perceiving "previously undetermined structures" (24) and " things that have yet to be named" (25); this commitment is in the name of everything that fails to fit within, to quote again from hastain's introductory note, "the dominant culture's required structures." Newness, according to hastain's poetics, is not a newfangled luxury but a socio-political necessity, and prurient anarchic omnibus is a persuasive call, a kind of manifesto even, for "new classifications of loom " (17). We can read " loom" here in at least two ways: 1) as a technology for weaving, a machine for the creation of textiles (and, by extension, texts) and 2) as a nominalization of the intransitive verb meaning "[t]o appear indistinctly; to come into view in an enlarged and indefinite form" (OED). If we take this second, more unexpected meaning seriously, we apprehend that hastain's innovative language is a determined effort at making the indistinct distinct, a way of arousing within us the perception of the indefinite and undetermined.
The book is punctuated periodically with the reoccurring invocation/address (which, isolated on a page to itself, also acts as a repeating section title) "dear weaver of disparates," --a gesture which frames the poems (or poetic sections) as epistolary offerings regarding the irradiating intricacies and intensities of existence. Ultimately, prurient anarchic omnibus proposes a new and radical religiosity, a lyrical reverence to " a spans of god that I can understand. " " I am trying to express an additive Sanskri t// a new type of holy book," says hastain (38). And just a few pages later, we get another statement of religious ambition: " I am constructing a transfigured bible " (44). In an interview with Gabriel Ricard in the electronic journal Unlikely 2.0, hastain calls prurient anarchic omnibus "a book of psalms within the prurient." This is, in short, a new kind of religious poetry for the twenty-first century. By some accounts, the word "religion " derives from the Latin verb ligāre (to bind, to connect); religion, then, is at root a reconnection. Following this logic, we can read prurient anarchic omnibus as an insistent attempt to reconnect and yoke what seems unconnected. This connective impulse is evident not only thematically--as in the luxurious, multisyllabic phrase " accentuated coadunation " (92)--but in the many compound words that thicken the texture of hastain's text: "corpuscle-scripture" (77), "ever-future-primordial " (98), "an ongoing // legato-devotion" (124), " a sought-crest " (126), "an accordion-lung in the chimera, " " vigorous panegyric-cosmologies" (127). "Legato" -- interestingly--a musical term meaning " smooth and connected, with no breaks between the successive notes," also derives from the Latin word ligāre; it is a perfectly chosen and precise term that indicates both hastain's poetic musicality and fluency as well as larger religio-philosophical thought.
In the 1924 essay "Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality," Andre Breton wrote of a dream in which he imagined "a rather curious book" that had a spine " formed by a wooden gnome with an Assyrian-style white beard" and pages "made of thick black wool." Near the end of prurient anarchic omnibus we get a similar oneiric vision, which is nicely accentuated due to the fact that the passage is presented in a larger font than the rest of the book:
      I dreamt of a red handle coming out of the book itself
      like a combo-emotional net appearing as a solid protrusion

      always part sacrosanct part lunacy
      (116)
This dream-object, which acts as an idealized metaphor for the book itself, makes it clear that prurient anarchic omnibus requires a prehensile perception, a haptic grasping of its linguistic and imagistic sensuousness. The " red handle " as "solid protrusion" comes out at us as an invitation, as what hastain calls in the book's beginning " a truly / non-linear // offer" (2). As readers of challenging and rewarding poetry, it is in our best interest to take it. - Michael Leong

Review: Gabriel Ricard at Unlikely Stories
Review: Tom Becker at Galatea Resurrects
Review: Michael Leong at Word for Word
Review forthcoming: Rob Mclennan at Turntablebluelight
Review: Aimee Herman at The Lit Pub



j/j hastain, long past the presence of common, Interbirth Books / Say It with Stones, 2011.

"In words that reflect the dynamic complexities of language and human relationships, in lines cascading across pages, challenging the limitations of thinking in terms of duality and revealing an understanding beyond linguistic polarity, j/j hastain wants 'to show / the way that these languages are inherently / slanted / uncountable / yet worth lifetimes of attempt' and does just that. Like tongues coming together in the primal quest for contact, hastain's poetry is the experience of connecting, of breaking fabricated boundaries and going to the source--an essential voice for humanity in an increasingly isolating world." --Ed Go

long past the presence of common is a revolutionary document — a collection of poetry, collage, and scripts that challenges a political stability premised on always already repressive and hypocritical social norms and practices. This work takes strategies of categorization, simplification, and reduction to task for their failure to acknowledge the fundamental instability and unpredictability of organic energy and, in the process, it unleashes a radical assault on psycho/sexual conservatism, cultural conventionality, and spiritual stasis. Like a hot wire, long past the presence of common hisses and snaps an electric pulse violent and mesmerizing; yet there’s something soft here — a skin-like porousness (subtle, erotic, and inviting) that saturates the energy, thus exposing the multidimensionality of the bodily experience: a constant inter-bodily contact and merger and mutual becoming always dynamic and fluid in its unending cosmological escalations. An urgent and necessary anarchism — at once dangerous and revitalizing — sings from these pages & the message is clear: there are ways to live, but the lives therein requires a radical re-imagining of what it means to be forever in relation to an emergent fusion. j/j hastain writes the future in its inexhaustible queerness, its variability, pulsation, and immaculate unraveling, and the vision pleth presents in this book is one of limitless luminescence and difference that cuts through established models — both micro and macro — of fixity and closure. long past the presence of common offers essential possibilities within an age of darkness.”—Micah Robbins

“Full saturation ‘inverse –embedded wishes’ surface and recede in long past the presence of common, a momentous document which activates a commons for future feeling. This book radicalizes conceptions of the body multiple. Erotic subjects in the form of psycho-somatic wishes surge, intensify, electrify, vacillate, flicker, morph, fume, commingle and melt. This is emancipatory writing. Note too the ecstasy of the viscous embryonic circuitry arc bubble collages which are interspersed throughout. I feel an incredible kinship with this book.”—Brenda Iijima

"Full saturation "inverse -embedded wishes" surface and recede in long pas the presence of common, a momentous document which activates a commons for future feeling. This book radicalizes conceptions of the body multiple. Erotic subjects in the form of psycho-somatic wishes surge, intensify, electrify, vacillate, flicker, morph, fume, commingle and melt. This is emancipatory writing. Note too the ecstasy of the viscous embryonic circuitry arc bubble collages which are interspersed throughout. I feel an incredible kinship with this book." --Brenda Iijima
"Our bodies render us travelers, or prisoners, and on this truth is born j/j hastain's fascinating new book long past the presence of common. Naming and triangulating are important passions in this work, which often surprises with its multiple vocabularies, even as it refreshes age old debates about the systems of logic and gender that have made a nightmare of the political experience. If you are looking for a book of avant-garde poetry with a revolutionary dimension, you will do well to take this book to heart." --Kevin Killian

In long past the present of common, j/j hastain explores a liminal space without boundaries in an attempt to establish what it means to be a “cyborgian gender.” hastain, self-identified as a trans-genre writer, here brings together fragments of lyric poetry, theoretical prose, and visual art focused on the body and moving past the limitations of the common. It’s an ambitious project, but one that hastain is certainly up for.
The various pieces collected here work together as an exploration of, or investigation into, constructions of the self. The book’s goals are laid out in a prelude and through various straightforward declarations of intent throughout the collection, frequently with the refrain I am trying to, as in “I am trying to portray a similar type of startle,” “I am trying to say that my origin is not based in or appropriately gauged by physiological history or genealogy,” and:
I am trying to show
the way that these languages are inherently

slanted
uncountable
yet worth lifetimes of attempt
These declarations work as grounding points that help orient the reader in the sometimes dense and wide-ranging writing. The emphasis on the attempt also hints at the ambitiousness of the project, as the author seems to acknowledge that there could be a disparity between what is actually communicated and what is desired to be communicated.
Ultimately, what is communicated throughout the collection is possibility. hastain creates a poetics of possibility, both through what is said and how it is said. We see an investigation into the self and the myriad possibilities of the self:
to be in love with the opened box
revealing reams of             possible
Further, the language cascades across the page and constantly builds and riffs on itself, generating more and more possibilities. It’s an inclusive and loquacious poetry.
The idea of motion and movement is also central to this collection. hastain writes:
as bodies        we are a poetics of movement
The body is in motion and so is the author’s sense of self. Because this is a project about possibilities and exploration, it is impossible for it to arrive at a clear conclusion. Instead, the author is more interested in yearning, shifting, and refusing to settle. There is a sense that this is a poetics and a philosophy still in development—that it’s still taking form, shape-shifting, like the body itself, which is, as hastain quotes Tatsumi Hijikata, “tranform[ing] itself endlessly.” Perhaps this is what hastain means by “a poetics of movement”–a poetics that refuses to be pinned down, a poetics that is transforming itself endlessly.
This is a challenging collection, and some readers are likely to be turned off by the dense, theoretical language. However, for those who stick with the collection, the reward is great. The overall sense is that it wasn’t an easy process for hastain to reach this new place or new sense of self, but that it was necessary and liberatory—”worth lifetimes of attempt.” And so it shouldn’t be easy for the reader either, who finds his or herself following hastain and experiencing the journey vicariously.
- Gina Myers

Review: JA Tyler at The Red Fez
Review: Jonathan Pleucker at Html Giant
Review: Jai Arun Ravine
Review: Rob Mclennan
Review: Andy Peterson at The Barnyard


ulterior_eden
 
  
j/j hastain, ulterior eden, Otoliths, 2011.

“the ulterior eden” presents us with a contemporary Song of Songs in which allegory is subverted by eros into a more explicit and boldly unconventional passion. Large with life and ecstatic with the “names and innumerable sensations” of adoration, this communion joins beloved and beloved in the erotic chaos of a “newest pronoun.” j/j hastain makes this pact of bounty both politically and spiritually charged, shaping poetry’s intimacies as a means through which we can “mature all historical/grief/ into luminosity.Elizabeth Robinson

Review: Eileen Tabios
Review: Tom Becker at Galatea Resurrects

autobiography

j/j hastain, autobiography of my gender, Moria Books, 2011.

Review: Tom Becker at Galatea Resurrects

extant shamanisms

j/j hastain, Extant Shamanisms, Pavement Saw Press, 2011.

verges

j/j hastain, Verges & Vivisections, Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2011.     

For a minute or two in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I played Myst and its first sequel, Riven. I loved the way the games allowed me to closely explore the world on the screen, down to what was then an unheard-of degree of detail. To be honest, I spent more time putting my virtual nose against the pixel-shine of various digital game gewgaws than I did in actually trying to solve the puzzles and complete the games. For me, the point of playing was to prolong the immersive experience as long as I could; completing the game would mean . . . well, it would mean it was over!
Maybe that’s why I enjoy viewing (and making) visual poetry so much. Because visual poetry operates on more than one sensory level, it too can provide an experience of total immersion, in a way that video cannot. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not anti-video (I make video poems myself). But video perpetuates a sort of techno-tyranny, through the device-dependency of its medium and the limited opportunities for viewers to actively influence their own experience of the poem itself. On the other hand, a visual poem lets you choose the nature of your experience with it. Open a collection of visual poems and determine your own trajectory. You can start at the third-to-last one and go backwards, gliding over the pieces to get a brief collective impression. Or you can start on the first poem and gaze at it for half an hour before proceeding to the next, and so on. Hold a poem close to your face, or view it at twenty paces. What you get is different each time.
There are hundreds of visual poets all over the world, but j/j hastain is one of the most interesting and prolific. A recent collection, Verges & Vivisections, is a great choice for anyone who loves to get caught up in other worlds. Any individual poem in this collection is a multi-sensual window onto another place, but viewed amidst its fellows, each piece vibrates with the uncanny harmonics of relationship. There are a lot of relationships in these poems; the eye meanders over and into a given poem, pondering the text, the image upon which it literally rests, and their interaction. And then the page is turned and the experience of the previous poems informs that of the ones to come. Each page in the collection contains a whole untitled poem composed of an abstract photo or photocollage by the author, with lines of text affixed to the image.
For example, one piece presents a wall made of vertical pale boards, gleaming with a satiny shine. The image is composed so that the oval mirror on the wall is just above center.  The mirror reflects more planks of the same wood — but these are horizontally aligned. This creates a pleasant, fascinating disorientation. We are drawn toward the portal of the mirror. The text at the bottom of the poem pulls us even further in:
that this is how i understood an angel
wood holding
what reflects wood
We might let ourselves become trapped in the mirror with the wood’s reflection, and the angel, and our own self-awareness. Or we can turn the page and slide along to the next world. Brave viewers can also experiment with Verges & Vivisections as a single, long poem. The immersive effect is extended across the whole volume. The whole is other than the sum of its parts. - Jen Besemer

It’s a good time for visual poetry. The genre is expanding its influence through an increase in practitioners, and innovative composition methods are constantly being discovered and adapted. Publication technologies have advanced and become mainstreamed for more poets and publishers interested in mixed-genre work. Some of the factors that used to limit the large-scale dissemination of visual work (color printing costs for image-based poetry, for example) are circumvented or minimized by the online environment and the accessibility of desktop publishing software. Not only does technology come into play in the production and publication processes, it also provides a field for complex and fertile poetic association. For visual poetry especially, the conceptual coordinates of Self, Spirit, Body, and Techne can manifest in unexpected, innovative explorations that lead audiences to new insights of their own.
A visual poem cannot be reduced to a single, standardized interpretation. The textual and pictorial elements (and the implied aural elements) are equally necessary to a full reading of the piece. Although it is possible for audiences to engage the elements of some visual poems separately, to do so would yield a very different experience from that gained by taking the piece as a whole. This is a good thing, because it exponentially increases the potential impact of any one poem. This multidimensional capacity allows visual poetry to be a particularly suitable environment for grappling with the spiritual. In a 2007 essay introducing the catalogue for an exhibition of visual poetry from the Avant Garde Poetry Collection of the Ohio State University Libraries, John M. Bennett suggests that “visual poetry is especially useful for dealing with and presenting this multivalent/multiconscious experience of the world.” If a spiritual experience is “multiconscious,” visual poetry has room for it.
Rather than discussing the emotional impact of the spiritual, or attempting to describe a spiritual experience, some visual poets are able to transmit a spiritual experience directly to the viewer through image and text. Both John Martone and j/j hastain use combinations of text (or text fragments) and image (or image fragments) to craft poems with an undeniable spiritual turn. Yet one cannot say that their work is “about” spirituality or emphasizes a subjective, “airy” spiritual experience over the daily work of living an engaged life. Spiritual ways of knowing are grounded in a physicality that works on a number of levels. Because the poems of both authors are also physical objects—autonomous creations apart from and a part of their books—there is a resonance between the “body” and the “spirit” of each piece (as there is for their authors and audiences). The inherent multivalence of the medium also provides an even greater range on which the works can interact with one another.
The pieces in j/j hastain’s Verges & Vivisections are composed of abstract photographs taken by the author, with strips of original text superimposed upon each image. Occasionally the visual elements are cut and recombined through collage, but the text remains linear. Progressing through the book is a bit like walking through a chapel or a conservatory whose walls are made of stained glass. At once luminous and grounded, ecstatic and serene, these untitled poems seem dimensionally larger than the space they occupy on the page. This format is easily able to contain and convey the complex information hastain desires to present to reader-viewers. Often, this involves the evocation of spiritual themes through earth-centric imagery/text. Some pieces are aided by the presence of a narrator specifically addressing an imagined audience. For example, the poem on page 57 places the following text upon a seductive background of light and dark vegetable whorls:
it matters that it was only
in the moments and places which had no map
that I finally felt
kindred to
earth
Although it is by no means clear who the “I” refers to, its presence in the text places the audience closer to the author than is possible for Martone’s volume, as we will see.
Verges & Vivisections is deeply involved with the process, conditions and exigencies of “becoming human.” Becoming human entails forming a relationship with the spirit. It also demands a relation to earth, cosmos, death and sex—reconciling the body to that which operates within and without it. Flesh bodies meld with planetary bodies and are mapped onto spirit bodies, text bodies, bodies of thought and knowledge. Through processes of growth and change, we develop spiritual insight. This book is a busy, energetic place, crowded with lovers, monks, angels, shamans, animals, plants, gems, and hybrids. These act upon and influence one another in setting as varied as the players themselves, through alchemical and cosmic interactions, or through earthier cycles like menstruation or rot. In an inversion of the standard poetic use of personification, hastain often presents body as spirit, or in terms of spirit, rather than the other way around.
The question of the body, voice, and hand of the author is especially immediate for Verges & Vivisections. hastain is a trans/genderqueer poet whose work makes hir specifically trans embodiment a setting for spiritual and physical evolution. In some ways this collection shares some elements with more traditional poetries in which the presence of the poet is immediately and powerfully felt—the narrator’s “I” is one example. However, the embodied self, though present, is not emphasized. This is not a book about identity. The self in hastain’s work is plural, many-throated, difficult to contain in one pronoun. If the actual body is in flux—more malleable than often assumed—what insight does it offer the spirit? To those for whom the spirit is something eternal, the tension here can be especially compelling. - Jen Besemer

new_forms

j/j hastain, new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk, Scrambler Books, 2011.

“Holding j/j hastain’s new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk, I can feel my body push away from its disciplined and well-groomed version of itself; my pulse quickens, readying my system for a revitalizing intake. So as with certain religious reading practices, I take this book, open to any page, and know that the capsule of poetry in front of me is a gift: of luscious language, wild humor, mystery, and self-knowledge. Despite the “libertine” of its title, here is a deeply principled system of desire that seeks the beloved via language beyond binaries (text/image, penis/vagina, lyrical/philosophical, I/you, peace/violence). Here are pages of stunningly instructive “inter-mixtures/of a third life.”—Jill Magi

“Tarot reading for an apparition or phantasm,” is it possible? There is no doubt j/j hastain is making our new poetry of oracle. Poetry I want, poetry you want, poetry very much wanted. It’s not poetry about everything being all right. It’s better for you than any liar’s subterfuge. How else will we get the love? It’s beautiful in here, this book a “cosmic awe maw” of inexplicable tenderness. This is a book I will give to the ones I share the best parts of this world with.—CA Conrad

“Here hastain texturally experiments with expression where there are no words. Flirting, enmeshing and always returning us to what we are—a physically felt and unfeeling body. This body and body of work is the way of cyborgs, of hybrids and of the libertine monk. This poetics, as the title points, is paradoxical play with “both burlesque and butoh“; with libertine and monk. As vispo it sculpts space. Extrusions, protrusions, and dents are the material where wild collisions spark precedent imaginings. “burning architectures“ inhabit captions, and shapes indirectly paint. In this space we find place in our stressed times to dive into a “liquidic us” where we are tossed, lose hold, and are held influx. This is neither love poem nor not for it is one and in all.”—Kathrin Schaeppi

“Poetic-graphic collage is only a fraction of the feat j/j hastain is pursuing in new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk – rife with fearlessness and sexual desire, this book is a raison d’être for the integration of digital moments into the current publishing structure. This is it. Open your eyes.”—JA Tyler

Review: Aimee Herman at Fact-Simile
Review: Megan Burns at Horseless Press


j/j hastain, queer phylactery, Theenk Books, 2011.

we_in_my_trans

j/j hastain, we in my Trans, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010.

it matters to me that you are a woman
because you define yourself as a woman


This collection by poet j/j hastain is a personal journey through gender. Sometimes sensual, sometimes erotic, these poems resonate with love in all its forms, melding together society's preconceived notions of "straight" or "gay" or "lesbian," "male" or "female," "top" or "bottom," "masculine" or "feminine" to create a genderqueer landscape where the lines blur and the labels no longer stick. we in my Trans is at its heart a series of love poems concerning what of sensation, exists between -- whether by way of the rolling folds of desire or in overlaps with a lover. These are poems that embrace one's self as much as another.

j/j defines as Trans/genderqueer, which is different than Transgender, though not at all discounting it. j/j is interested in identity construction via active documents -- utilizing methods that are not at all related to previously determined models (with binary derived bases). j/j's work involves embodying, inhabiting, and populating the body as one would a neoteric space -- through ways and methods that are not related to formerly prescribed shapes that are based in limit.

"I had forgotten my own throat. Then I started reading the work of j/j hastain. Whatever your alliance with order, you will burn it for how you will whimper in j/j's writing. Trans as ka­leidoscope. 'how the pronoun was a lock ... a blockade.' I have read no one else whose words are so entirely without skin. Every line without shelter. Every line without line. There isn't a single deceit. Ever. j/j's work leaves me wordless. Always. j/j is the only writer who writes me into wordlessness. My bones have been searching for themselves since j/j's last line." -- Andrea Gibson 

Review: Summer D’Vine at Queer Magazine Online
Review: Benjamin Winkler at Galatea Resurrects
Review: Lark Fox at Lit Pub
Review: Good Reads

cock_burn

j/j hastain, cock-burn, Cy Gist Press, 2010.

“Sex lost its teeth when it became an abstraction, but in cock-burn, j/j hastain remembers that fucking has always been and will always be revolutionary. Teeth and all other parts. Here is a map in 1:1 scale, without gloss or euphemism. The oracle in the temple of the body speaks from the shadows, long absent. The news is good.”-Mark Lamoreaux

Review: Tom Becket at Galatea Resurrects
Review: Mark Lamoreaux at Cy Gist

newest

j/j hastain, Restitutions for a Newer Bountiful Verb, Ypolita Press, 2010.







j/j hastain, asymptotic lover // thermodynamic vents, BlazeVOX Books, 2009.




“This book, which is unlike anything that has ever been seen before, brings something with it from the under-parts of sensation. This is the definition of vibration, of a book as the only possible membrane, the only future for a body so new it’s still forming: j/j hastain gives us this.”—Bhanu Kapil

“This work is consistently imaginative and beautifully controlled. Very musical and theatrical and intimate. The work is inspiring yet it’s not easy or facile.”—Junior Burke

Review: Tom Becket at Galatea Resurrects
Review: Marthe Reed at Goodreads
Review: Eileen Tabios at Galatea Resurrects 



new_yew

j/j hastain, how nerve-yen became the new yew tree, erbacce press, 2009.

“Shifting between the sharply cut phrase and the open field of the page, between quotation and the more physical registers of language, between desire and the turns of a mind thinking, j/j’s how nerve-yen became the new yew tree creates a musical, mystical space where all these things become extensions of one another”—Joel Betteridge
Review: Danielle Vogel at Goodreads


j/j hastain, let me letters, Pudding House Publications, 2008.
compilate
j/j hastain,
compilate, Livestock Editions, 2007.

Have you had any repeating dreams in your life? What were they? 
I think a better term than were is are. What are the repeating/reoccurring dreams that cause me convulsion, that make me part of their animate convolutions deep into the night? There are many. They are all intimate. They cause deluge in the debonair lair.  
Just last night one of the usuals came in to take me over again. In it, I was having to prove myself by grinding piles and piles (infinitesimal piles as tall and as queer as Hart Crane’s cathartic, white-capped urban buildings) of powder from materials that, before my interaction with them, were solid forms. The sense (in the dream) was of sweat and exertion, of the dust being retained in my eyes as valuable strain.  
I am not always sure whether or not to qualify repeats (reoccurring dreams) as haunts or not, since haunt connotes the regularity of multiple visitations but also culturally points to the presence of some terrifying ghost. My dreams come to me by way of (and create new) nano-paths that are already my areas. In other words, if there is any ghost in here, it is me, and though I continually cull myself, I suppose I can’t technically haunt myself. 
Do you have a favorite love poem? Do you love it as much as your favorite lust poem? 
Senses (of which love and lust are) for me are best insinuated by way of sound and image combinations (more than poem-this or poem-that).  
Love: Something in the wrinkles held by the gaze of the person who is making love to the other person (their bodies both dark against the apricot-toned light coming in in cones (from the open-curtained window)). Something in how the wrinkles held make the onlooker feel that the person making love to the other person is doing so more like meditation than like the frump-ness of drunken desires’ short-lived articulation. 
(I also really enjoy the Navajo Indian Prayer of the Second Day of the Night (which is definitely a love lyric)):
In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again.
Beautifully birds …
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.) 
Lust: Up-close view of dirty rainwater falling (like an epicene epistle) in thick droplets onto hay that (by the looks of it) has long been soaked, already.  
If you were locked in a cell, do you think you’d write of the cell and your jail mates, or would you write something outside of that world? 
I would definitely not write of the cell or my jail mates (unless they needed that from me (I am always up for offering myself and what resources I might have (of which I recognize as my privileges) in assistance to others)). It is my proclivity to compose enabling elses. So, by my nature, I bargain that while in a locked, concrete cell I would be composing nascent, nautilus-shaped nests or atria as imaginative paths out of the nefarious voids.  
When you venture outside of your community of friends and family, and people don’t know you as Xe, how do you navigate those situations? When do you let it slide and when do you make a point of clarifying who you are? 
Grayson! I want to say that these questions have been so lovely and luscious. For having the opportunity to interact with them, I offer gratitude to you! What this particular question enables me to speak about is a very important to me. Here is the part where I talk about how the privilege of passing (Cis (or appearing to be)) is actually more dysphoric and anxiety producing for me than not passing ever was. There have been eras in my identity (morphology) that have been more and less troubling of the social norms (preferences in regard to bodies) than other eras of me are. It remains true that my embodiments (aesthetics of identity) have never depended on social modeling for their articulations (they are not relegated to anything but my accuracies): their calculations have always been from the inside out.
I guess that I am saying that I prefer the social struggle of standing out, the active frictions apparent in the moment when I walk into the men’s restroom at the Opera (inches from getting my ass kicked by a machismo straight male) over an easeful waltz into the women’s restroom. I prefer the honks blaring from the Western Disposal trucks, their drivers fists raised as they call me a freak, over them honking at me and winking because they see in me (by way of their projections) something which they can fuck. This statement is not an anti-men statement nor is it an anti-fuck statement; its sentiment is tended much more toward the fact that I identify as a tender monster, and would prefer to be (socially) understood and synthesized in that way over any other. It is possible to be a tender monster that endlessly needs the ways in which it is referenced, to include mystery and regard (rather than weed either out or frame either with too much constriction). 
It is also true that though my current, physical aesthetic (monstrous, queer, femme?) and my chosen, public pronoun (xe) might seem at odds to some, they do not feel at all at odds to me: they are a combination which compliments my ongoing accuracy. My dysphorias need aspects to graze on. What better for a dysphoria to graze on than self-enforced accuracies? 
Is there any art you envy in particular, one you might wish to be capable of instead? 
There is no instead. I am not trying to run from myself toward something else. I am not trying to be(come) anything in which I am not. Why would I? There is no instead but there is is. My writing is. My body is. My identity is. Accuracy is a priority of the is. Respect is a juicy methodology by which accuracy can be pursued (in together/communal settings).  
Recently I have been feeling more and more enabled and touched by particularly human things (my Beloved’s breath filling the space around me as we sleep, the slight buzz coming off of the cable box that is covered by a dark handkerchief to keep those little numbers from harassing the closed eyes awake, the hair gathered in creases of the walls, the delicious ease in pouring tea for one another, or the simplicity of human kindness, for example). I recall a time when these more human resonances still felt far-off or out of reach for me. I would say though this materialization of myself in more human resonance is something that I am inducing it is also a deep art that is happening to me (that I am being gifted with), and that art is the wish coming true. -argospoetry.tumblr.com/ 
j/j hastain
j/j hastain was manumit from the human womb by way of caesarean birth (a violent release only after extreme pressure); raised Mormon. Later, j/j picked all of the lemons that j/j could reach from where j/j hid on the inside of the lemon tree as a child (learning then about decay due to placing the lemons so close together that over time they began to mold from touching). j/j left home and Mormonism to move into the bush in Australia (with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory). Following a slant of light (which presented itself particled as well as dense) to the Rocky Mountains, j/j found the physical form of xir, most beloved.
Identifiying as Trans/ post-binary genderqueer (which is different than Transgender, though not discounting it, at all) j/j is interested in differentiated usages with regard to the prefix Trans (not related to a previously determined model with binary derived bases). Merriam Webster defines transoceanic as crossing or extending across the ocean and translucent as transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly. Both definitions are akin to j/j s Trans/ genderqueer identity. To develop and nourish compositional methods which increase empowerment in what a diminutive and polarizing world, j/j creates spaces/ forms inherently non-linear, inherently a-historical spaces that have never been patriarchally controlled, whichcannot be patriarchally controlled. Singing is an embodiment site of enablement for j/j, who, currently, torches tunes with the jazz/ blues bandthunderhoney (based in Denver, Colorado.

j/j hastain is a queer, mystic, seer, singer, photographer, lover, priest/ess, gender shaman and writer.  As artist and activist of the audible, j/j is the author of several cross-genre books and enjoys ceremonial performances in an ongoing project regarding gender, shamanism, eros and embodiments

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

across & beyond - a transmediale Reader on Post-digital Practices, Concepts, and Institutions

Daïchi Saito proposes a personal reflection on language and the image, a meditation that does not strive to theorize practice, but to recount it.

Thor Garcia - By turns defiant, paranoid, brooding, absurd and knock-down funny. Like Hunter S. Thompson meets Russ Meyer’s Under the Valley of the Supervixens meets Daft Punk – wearing a press pass and a smiley badge to a San Francisco gangbang