Notes for a Blurb on Benjamin Dugdale's The Repoetic
February 2022 – Notes for a blurb on Benjamin C. Dugdale's The Repoetic, by autogyniphiles_anonymous, Meme Collective
Phil Hall, he thought I was going somewhere. He invited me to the classes he taught that I wasn’t enrolled in. He gave me a lot of his time. I often wonder how he would treat me now, clearly trans. It is nice to see his name again in a context that isn’t in a dead past to me, but in trans poetry. Trans poetry and Phil Hall. I have a tattoo of the Killdeer he drew in my copy. The last poem I published myself still had my deadname on it. In transition I mostly gave up poetry. I haven’t heard from Phil in years. Nancy Richler is dead now. I’m sad she died before I published anything proper. She had promised she’d come to my book launch.
I like that this is brain damaged poetry. I wonder how much brain damage I have? Surely a mix of trauma and youthful drug abuse must have given me some. But mostly what stops me from “fully getting” poetry, other than the nature of poetry itself, is my dyslexia. My Romantic Literature 200 prof was always mad at me that I couldn’t read the metre of a poem well. But we don’t write romantic poems anymore do we. Hall thought I had potential. So maybe modern poetry is for the dyslexic and the brain damaged?
I think about apocalypses a lot, apocalypses and nostalgia, the feeling of afterwards, like how in Futurama the 90s went on forever. This poem, this book, feels so full of befores-recollection that it is hard not to read it as a book length afterwards for the queer world I know. In terms of its relationship to the RePoetic it is an afterwards, if you factor in the fire and the published notes, it’s an afterwards for an afterwards. This of course raises the question of what will come from it. What comes from Canadian poetry?
When I read about the firebird I at first pictured the Boomer-Nostaglia remake that came out sometime in the 00s, but as I kept reading I was forced to realize it was not the remake but the original, the cheap one that looked better. I’m amazed any are left that aren’t owned by some rich guy or sold as investments at some giant auction they televise every year from the desert.
The fire place is the fireplace. Isn’t it funny something as dangerous as fire has a place in every third home, every second home if you live in a nice place? At the same time, how weird of us to allow something as dangerous, as poem-destroying, as fire into our homes so regularly, so long after it was necessary, as to give it a place.
When I got to Grace Jones I had to pause and tell the person (the they/them variety of person) who Grace Jones was, and of course, discuss James Bond, and the Bond Villain styled after David Bowie, and of course David Bowie himself. We agreed the movies were better when they were camp—sexism and all.
My reading was interrupted by an apple crashing to the floor “its 4:20 and that means it’s time for an apple” “always fending off doctors” “just like vampires and garlic you need to invite the doctor into your home before you can slay it”. Back to it now.
Tubular Bells rings a bell, I can’t fully recall.
There was a generation or more before us who drank Coca-Cola so regularly.
“You will just have to suffer him too peaceful” from the other room while I try to focus.
The earth personified has been used so many times throughout my life to tell me I am not a woman. “Goddess” “Gaia” “Women and the earth, we share the beauty of reproduction”. Hannah Arendt never had kids. I don’t know if she wanted them. From what I know I don’t think she did. She said society relied on “natality” though, and I like that society, not earth, was natal for her. I like that the earth is a faggot (beloved) for you. G-d it feels so good for the earth not to be eternal, to know it “will wither and blink out”. I don’t think I love nature. I wonder that’s cause I resent it for being more woman than me, according to my mother.
“Social media is a redundancy here” heyyyy (do you remember that longdead image that told you what the number of Ys on hey meant…I think according to that old image I’m technically trying to fuck, but I didn’t google it to check)
“nubile nuisible anime body-pillows” everyone who owns one should get a $200 dollar compensation cheque from the government on account of their loneliness—I do not. I have stuffies and sex partners. I do not combine the two.
The prof I know, or I know the daughter of the prof, who was cited by my supervisor’s wife in a book she published and I own, who fought Peterson the most, that prof, that father, he’s the oldest guy I know of who goes to Burning Man and who hosts the sort of parties my friends ODed in attendance of. I’m not sure what that says about people who debate Peterson, but with the coke-snorting Zizek there seems to be a trend of at least 2. I don’t know what the trend is, professor Hydes who hide or who don’t actually bother to hide it much.
“Dude, he's asking me, and for no good reason” ain’t that a mood, not referring to you, it’s just, well, y’know, a whole thing.
They’re playing The Last of Us in the other room now, so your poetry book which I’m reading allowed (aloud before autocorrect decided I didn’t mean aloud) is being penetrated by zombie death noises. Do you kill zombies? Like they’re already dead right? So it’s not so much a killing as a destroying.
“I too could be that imaginary Albertan cowgirl girlfriend, Alberta” Isn’t that the dream. I have a hat with a Lou Reed quote on it from “Caroline Says II”, “all her friends call her Alaska” but pretty much everyone who comments on it presumes inexplicably that I’m a John Green fan. I’m trying to say something emo and poetic on my hat–since you’re not allowed to post lyrics to facebook anymore—but everyone thinks its about Mr. “Cock is one of my favourite tastes” Green. Whoever wrote that post deserves a poetry book.
Aside note: you signed the email Bonny, but I misread it first as Boney and I thought that was charming. Now that it’s Bonny, not Boney, it makes me want to listen to “I See A Darkness”
Isn’t it funny how everywhere and nowhere Judy Garland is now? There’s a new-old album “Songs for Judy” by Young and in a presumably coked out introduction he insists he saw her. It’s all BS and I don’t really care about Judy, but imagine seeing Judy Garland–the feeling of world peace—even though I don’t care.
What is it about modern queer identity, about tranny identity, that makes it so, that or maybe its the internet’s fault, or “clout” why is everyone so scary or boring, why are these the options. Poets seem like they’d be scary, they’re so intense, but everyone I know has seemed shy and quiet. Maybe I’d be happier among them. I’m so scared of strangers’ emotions these days. I should be among people who put them in books not screams.
I think I like tinder-poem as a person
I used to work construction with my father, when I wasn’t in school, and since I was a little kid, I’ve been warned about fiberglass splinters. My boyfriend doesn’t think anything that isn’t wood can be a splinter. It can only be metaphorically a splinter. I don’t know if its cause he was a girl, or because he was upper-middle class, or because he’s a linguist, but I’ve been debating asking him to hold a piece of insulation for me, all cute and pink like a girl, so that he knows about them. He’d complain in the faggiest way possible if he got them. It would be cute, I’d tease him and remind him how his girlfriend is more manly than him—am I still a butch–probably not–too much soft pink all black frills and themetaic dildo interests.
Cumbath healing bottom emoji—will text to GF later
Never trust a young poet, they’re there for the clout aka cruelty asserting itself to others—mattering by having the meanest opinion “a mediocre competitiveness and”
“We know it’s a malfunction But we’re thinking of adopting it permanently” Is there anything that can be loved more or less than a broken robot/cyborg/android– me as them?
“weekend babysitting certification seminar” fuck smartserve fuck any certificate that eats up a weekend and cost money and the government may or may not demand you take from a company that they’ve given a monopoly too, because the government refuses to do it themselves, so that you can get a low pay job. That weekend was worth more than the jobs.
The word nonce makes me feel like a prune (nee. Plum) hiding in the prune jar really hoping a hand doesn’t reach in to eat it. So British, so scary. So scary how the British. So scary how trans women all, all? yes all, get accused of being one. The account gets these accusations, a trans celebrity unfollowed us after one of her friends called us one (unclear why such an accusation was made, there was no context to suggest anything... except that the account is run by us, that is trans women???). I still can't fathom why that trans celebrity unfollowed, she's had the same accusations against her, all trans women have. Perhaps because we were rude to her friend after they randomly used that word against us? I still don't understand what how people expect us--micro-celebrities in a dusty corner of the internet, to behave. someone accused us once of not letting our hired help moderate our comments section for us, as if we make money, as if we have hired help. People think anyone with over 25k followers have the financial resources and social reclusion of Brad Pitt. I guess that's why they feel safe attacking us. And its cause we don't have that that any suggestion of immorality sends us each into a dead fish cold sweat. My mother ate a lot of prunes. I guess they’re healthy? It’s weird to feel like you got called a prune and notice your heart racing, a prune’s heart.
Prunes are sort of translucent, could you see their heart? Can't people just call me a dirty tranny instead? I'm used to being a tranny it's something I actually am. But instead the world is broken enough that neo-nazis and LA style "progressives" who wield their self righteousness like the cleaver of a butcher with missing fingers, trying to claw and bounce through some platinum door (a Frasier reference), use the same wild accusations Magnus Hirschfeld’s patients once heard.
“They’re comparing scars?”— from the other room.
I scrolled back up to the THWAP page. It’s oddly calming.
I was obsessed with Bright Eyes’ cover of Devil Town when I was a teen
Someone next door to me had a jimmy in my last city. What a friendly name I always thought. It was more friendly than anyone I ever lived next to.
John Darneille—vampires as drug addicts—drug addicts as vampires—my friend who studies the philosophy of addiction says addict isn’t the right word anymore
How many queers like blood play? Will that be the next big sex meme?
“we practically perfected trauma”. Queers? Trans? We whom? Trauma as experience, trauama as phenomenon, trauma as methodology, trauma as excuse, trauma as proof, g-d we love it don’t we. Thank g-d I’m traumatised otherwise how could I speak among us?
I got my nipple pierced out of misplaced gender envy for my abusive ex-girlfriend when I still thought of myself primarily as a dude. I got near-blackout drunk after. The booze made the nipple bleed but I thought it was just sweat in the hot bar, until I went to the coke-dusted bathroom to piss and noted my shirt soaked through with blood running down to my beltline. I shrugged it off and went back to drinking. A vampire would have found me so sexy.
March 2022, Benjamin C. Dugdale to autogyniphiles_anonymous
heyyyy AA, here’s some beat for beat (though not comprehensive) replies I have to your very thoughtful para-blurb notes:
Phil Hall killdeer tattoo: I've never met Phil in person, though I've been to a reading of his once. I kind of got annoyed by Killdeer because it almost read like it needed the subtitle "I met Al Purdy at a party once, + others," especially because it feels like Phil has a very vital and awesome "fuck you academy, fuck you precious snobs" current coursing through his work; I guess at a certain point I can't blame him for not distinguishing himself from establishment/established writers, a man’s gotta eat / network / these social spaces are not discrete proofs of anything as soon as you scrutinize them. Killdeer is on my mind often because it is so so so very frank and personal, no voice-throwing here, which maybe is something idpol doesn’t let us do—always gotta torque the marginal, make it impressive and not simply minor (barf). I wonder what he'd be like as a direct teacher. I hope if you find a way back into poetry that you can give him a wave, and that he waves back with enthusiasm.
It's frustrating as well because when folks like…stand as the ‘great innovators’ and ‘outposts of experimentation,’ because when they all inevitably turn out to be moral failures, moralizers (the good and the bad alike) use that toppling to write off the strategies and tactics altogether;* I'm not a great didactic writer, I'm not sure quite how to churn out a poem that is somehow inherently "enby," and I don't think I'd want to read that poem even if I could. But I'm a very bad appraiser of my own work, so maybe I'm not that out there in the first place lmao.
I like the thought of contemporary poetry being accessible (for brain damaged folks or whoever) by abandoning metre and other structural conceits. My worst course of my undergrad was 2901/2902 early english survey, a mandatory course that no one in the department was willing to teach, except…who primarily researched medieval lit and was reviled by everyone in our class except one or two suck-ups. & she reallllly really hated me ahaha, in the way that someone can wish u dead and tell u to drop out unsolicited, but then forget who you even are two years later when you are polite and thank them (for what? idek, damn polite muscle memory) at the cap and gown ceremony. When the department started attempting to groom me for grad school and the like I was brought in as the "honour's stream" rep for the curriculum selection committee, and I've never spent so much concentrated time with petty, insecure adults fighting over nothing in my entire life ahaha. Everyone furious that the mandatory early english lit course was ejecting 80 percent of the english undergrad enrolment (this might be an apocryphal figure by this point, but oh well), but all unwilling to rework the course or step up to teach it another way; there were great people in there too, but how can they lift the weight of the academy and the cowardly when they are so few.
—> I also didn't realize at that time that not everyone else was struggling with the program the same way I was. Between mental health and illness and debility and everything all at once I was having a tough go. I eventually learned what to parrot, and how to select profs that were understanding. But it took longer than I wish it would have. I have no fucking clue how I made it through my Master's degree, and I'm glad I didn't listen to everyone telling me to do a PhD. Maybe I will be bribed one day, given my narrow skillset, but jeezly fuck I hope not.
“if you factor in the fire and the published notes, it’s an afterwards for an afterwards. This of course raises the question of what will come from it. What comes from Canadian poetry?”
There's something really interesting here w.r.t. the popular expression of “CanLit Dumpster Fire.” Sometimes I wonder about how there was the “CanLit Janitors” and the “CanLit Dumpster Fire” and that specific choice of branding. It calls to mind at least in part the Milton Acorn (a now-known ‘difficult man’) prose poem, “The Garbage Man is Drunk.” I guess there feels like an angry middle-class protest thing going on, thinking about “how yucky a job it is to do custodial work,” or to be associated with “waste,” and how difficult and problematic (and yes, some outright evil) people in the writing community are 1:1 “garbage on fire.”
I remember going to work at the local grain elevators with my mother and sisters as a very young child, helping to chip the dried and smeared shit off the walls, shit sometimes spelling out "CUNT" and the like. My mom was making minimum wage for this. Eventually she started leaving the shit there to bake all weekend in the poorly ventilated washroom, and the men corrected their own behaviour quickly not being cleaned up after, after being given no more attention. I guess I wonder as well, about how “Janny” is an online-insult too, usually I see it at least re: unpaid moderators (always over concerns of ‘busybodyism,’ ‘pearl-clutching,’ ‘pussy-having,’ etcetera) trying to keep pages remotely civil or even just lightly related to the theme of the page. It’s strange, that “CLDF” feels like a historical bullet point now, like it was from another life altogether. Maybe the climate is simply not there anymore to run callouts this way (I mean, the defamation suits alone are terrifying).
Probably a waste of energy to think about imperfect conceptual optics in anonymous callout movements that are, for better or worse, completely off of almost everyone else’s minds by this point; did they put a dent in something? I hope so. But I am socially hopeless / clueless, not immersed in these communities at all really, so, I don’t know if all this still crackles with life or if the flames are guttered down to the bottom of the dumpster by now.
—>in my time in New Brunswick, the local FERO garbage bins all had ‘inspirational’ phrases on them. My favourite was one that read DRUGS ARE TRASH bin, where the D had been scraped off. Just sheer shock and giggles every time I saw it. A visual poem to give all those that came before it a run for their $$$.**
I really do miss camp angles to things.*** And cinema code in general. I don't love setting up an unnecessary obfuscation as a barrier to viewership, readership, what have you, but layers often enrich meaning, augment and distort it and do all sorts of things to it that (here's the word again) didactic writing simply can't in its shallow forthrightness.
Coca Cola is a big mythic touchstone for me. Mountain Dew, too, though with some of my health stuff there's no way I'd drink a daily soda (I don't touch coffee either, but Matcha is on the table for sure). I begin a new story I'm working on with a quote I dreamt up after falling asleep to a v-tubers twitch stream,
no, theres a meme about pepsi+milk=pilk, and now theres milk (mountain dew+milk)
—> milk to pilk to milk(modified) is satisfying to me. Baudrillard-ian? maybe?? It’s in this story I’m working on**** where a person (no pronouns, 3rd-person illeism but exaggerated) named Yhorm delivers groceries and has a made-up wife named Promise, who Yhormade by uploading a stick figure to an AI portrait generator; Promise is 'vaguely ethnic' and thus beloved in the way Canada's whole 'cultural mosaic' wants ‘diversity,’ not sticky enough to velcro people together into belonging, but visually popping enough to claim on the tokenism level without actually striving toward understanding. It's the first story I've written in a long time that I'm really excited to be writing. There's also that O'Hara famous thing, sharing a coke with you or whatever, so very quotable, though it never quite landed with me. Maybe I wasn't in the right place to give him attention at the time.
"Stuffies and sex partners" lmaoooooooo. Okay I've been very hermit-monk-anchoress since moving back to my parent’s…
I don't know how to wrangle the phenomenological question of if we kill zombies or destroy them, but I do have severe intense flashbacks to sitting in cold garages in a row of chairs four-wide, playing HALO and Cod Zombies and the like, big puffy jackets brushing against other big puffy jackets, so much cheesy bread from dominoes, each of us drinking our own 2L jug of soda. MM. What a cultured life I led in my teens. No wonder I’m so thoughtful and socially adroit, so very well-adjusted.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s "I see a darkness" is one of those albums I indulge when I'm already in the terrible headspace it might otherwise drag me down into, and I'm grateful for the association ahah…
PLEASE do neg your bf into getting a fiberglass splinter, and report back your findings. Maybe there's some hyper-specific medical term for something alien lodged in your body that fits better than splinter, and maybe splinter should just be wood, but it's such a wild thing to dig heels in over when it conveys exactly what the thing is.
The whole trauma discourse is so loaded and I can't even approach it because:trauma, but the vampires of the repoetic certainly have their opinions on it, on its social capital, on how to use it whether or not they've experienced it. I know a lot of academic acquaintances who grew up in really nice homes and didn't have much trouble doing PhD's on trauma representation in whatever…and I always wonder what it'd be like to write from a place where trauma is just a big abstract thing floating there for a dissertation, and not this weird omnipresent sieve through which everything else is related.
I gulped + gasped aloud just now at your nipple piercing tale, probably because I’m a vampire. a very long time ago i drove a new friend from my residence at Uni downtown to get her ears pierced, and I fell asleep on the bench while she had her consult, and I woke up to her groan and saw she was one nipple in to getting both her nipples pierced, and I barely knew her at the time, and I dissociated for a little over 2 weeks, during which I guess I went downtown to the same piercer and got my nape pierced, because that same friend had told me I had such a pretty neck when my hair was up in a big pony and we were walking to the gym together. I still have my nape piercing so many years later, though it's been grouchy since I got back to AB (too arid? idk); I still have that friend, too, though distance imports that usual static into her thought-form now.*****
with love, bonny CD
April 2023, Editorial additions from Benjamin C. Dugdale
*I quote this way too often, but Nora Collen Fulton talks about how this in an interview in PANK: “I feel that in the wake of the well-deserved death of Conceptual Writing there has been a reaction that has uncritically swung poetics back into the realm of naturalism and lyricism. Rather than looking ahead, poets are now looking and identifying backwards, as if searching for a way forward through older aesthetic formations and oppositions. This is not a bad thing, but it has its risks.” It’s worth reading that whole write-up, honestly.
**now I’m a pretty prolific rug-maker, and the repoetic has a lot of rug stuff in it that i don’t think I was conscious of writing at the time.
***Oh there’s this really deranged delicious story collection that I wanna mention here, Tim Jones-Yelvington’s “Don’t Make Me Do Something We’ll Both Regret.” There’s a 1D fan-fic piece in it where they impregnate one another and then eat the child. There’s a real freedom to J-Y’s work that is just, like, queer menace par excellence.
****since the time of this original correspondence I actually got a CCA grant to work on a novel born from this early little node of play. Thank you, CCA, for helping me write my book about post-pronoun goblins and women grown in vats. It has quite literally changed my life in a lot of ways.
*****I actually took the nape-piercing out a few months ago, rather a trans pal of mine here who is a nurse did, and we found out that piercer hadn’t even used body-safe jewelry, and it was the wrong kind of bar altogether, etcetera. A miracle it lasted over a decade without turning my neck into one thick tube of scar tissue. I do miss how pretty it made me feel, though, a gap I’ve been addressing by wearing pearls any time I’m social, and as many rings as my frail little poet noise-musician hands can bear at a time.
April 2023, autogyniphiles_anonymous to Benjamin C. Dugdale
[I] wanted to reply to your above email and I've been meaning to for ages, so I am so very sorry for the delay. In my defense, things have been hellish. I hope you'll accept the below as a reply, and perhaps the publisher will like it. I didn't want to leave the discussion un-replied to:
I find your critique of Killdeer funny because it reminds me of Phil's own gripes about Atwood that are in Killdeer. I don't know exactly why I have the tattoo. I suppose because it reminds me that someone "important" really seemed to believe in me once. In my experience it was a lot easier to convince people you were and up and coming person of talent when you were a 21 year old boy, and not as an ageing transsexual. But maybe that's changing. I've been thinking about how to address name dropping lately. I know enough transsexuals who've "made it" in some way, and indeed, although with zero monetary comeupance I've sorta "made it" in some weird cultural way. So when cis people talk to me about Abigail Thorn or Torrey Peters, Hunter Schafer, or Carta Monir or whatever trans academic, pornstar, or microcelebrity they're talking to me as if I might have heard of them, I'm really not sure how to respond. Do I let on that we're acquaintances? That we dated? Sexted? Chat sometimes? Lately, I've fallen back on saying "oh yeah, they're nice". It's vague enough that I'm not really denying that I know the person, but also not really saying that I do. That might come off as bragging. It can be weird feeling the need to semi-censor your life so you don't come off as bragging.
My medievalist partner just texted me fresh out of therapy "he keeps talking about how excited he is for my transition ‘journey’ and it makes me a bit uncomfortable. like he ends every session by mentioning this. I'm headed to your area now <3". Maybe they'd like it if there was more meter in poetry again. I don't think so though. They may love the Green Knight but they've never ranted about its meter to me. Maybe a lack meter is what is keeping you or them from churning out a poem that is inherently enby. Maybe that's why meter must die. Or. Maybe meter is the gender of the future. I'm sure someone has written about the gender of meters in the past.
Ins't it funny how departments refuse to remove outdated and devastating requirements from their programs? They're all afraid of looking soft. I guess when everyone thinks STEM is hard and not-STEM is easy they get afraid of making it easier, so they decide needlessly hard and frankly often gatekeepingly ableist--presuming a good mind is a mind that is good any everything. Well I am proud to be a women in PHLEGM (Philosophy, History, English Lit, Geography, Music). I'm stealing that open from @eleanordotcomm on twitter, who is also probably stealing it from instagram or tumblr, but I've done my citation job.
Garbage is garbage is garbage is on fire is garbage on fire is fuel for society if your society burns garbage for fuel I'm not sure how clean that is.
Garbage is inherently something unwanted. If it is burned for fuel is it still unwanted?
Or, since it is being burned and thus inherently, it is unwanted insofar as it is wanted to be destroyed, and thus un- substanced, is anything that is burned for fuel garbage?
Oil and gas are garbage.
Now The Last of Us is a tv show. I just finished it. I wonder if zombies can be fuel, de-animated zombies as garbage, as fuel. A horrifying fact of history. Egypt lacks coal and the British colonial railways often ended up burning mummies instead of coal as fuel. At least a professor told me that. Like most knowledge I have never verified it.
Is there anything that celebrates the joys and the rotting of american imperialism like a can of coke? Of being so sure you're right to export.
I think we might all be vampires in a way. I always think about how Andy Warhol got accused of being a vampire. I think he probably was in several of the ways I'm talking about. Because there is the cool way to be a vampire, the creepy way to be a vampire, the parasitic way to be a vampire, and the romantic way to be a vampire. There's also the way to be a not-vampire, those vampires who refuse their nature. I had a good talk about this with Torrey Petters once, about the 2005 movie Let The Right One In which turns out to be favourite of both of us. But anyways, I'm not sure how I feel about choosing what you are versus what has been done to you--that's essentially what those type of narratives are about. And in Let The Right One In I think part of what it is about is how if you refuse the evil side of your nature you still end up doing harm sometimes, because you might need other people to meet the requirements of that part of your nature for you. It would be a lot easier if we could all be "vegetarian" like the Twilight vampires. It's sort of funny, I keep trying to type vampire but I type zombie instead. Then I have to fix it. Even though if you think about it a vampire should probably be a subcategory of zombie, or at least they are both categories of the undead. In The Last of Us the zombies are infected with parasitic fungus (gross!!!), in many vampire narratives the vampires are implicitly parasitic--their survival is dependent on the survival of the human species to which they are parasites. I wonder if vampires would team up with humans in a zombie apocalypse to maintain their own host civilization, their own food source which is also their source of reproduction. I guess we all should do our best to be a good type of vampires—whatever that is.
I hope this has been interesting and makes for a decent reply, lol (lots of love), Auto Anon