Amy:  hi Cecilia!
Cecilia: hello!
   oh it
   is still the same
   what can they do
   to us really though
   it’s an honest mistake
Amy:  we’ll survive this
Cecilia:  i kind of feel like i’m in a cyber    
   chat room for anonymous sex or    
   i never did that but it feels like, i should    
   tell you what i am wearing
   dont worry it’s not nothing!
   its a black dress and socks
   ii’m also listening to the scariest music 
   i’ve ever heard
Amy:  don’t tell me any more, or the 
   claudius app will also find out! Email me 
   about it instead? So our ‘topic’ is gender 
   politics and poetry and/or poetry ‘scenes’, 
   and I was thinking we might start by 
   talking about how it’s not easy for two 
   young women who don’t know each 
   other that well to to have a public and 
   recorded g-chat about gender politics 
   and “the (Anglo-US-UK) poetry world”?
Cecilia:  yes yes
   well, it feels very intimate to me to talk    
   about gender politics because it doesn’t    
   feel like “Politics”
   because i think the importance of that 
   topic as a category is about an 
   experience, for me at least, of feeling a lot 
   of ugly feelings
   powerlessness, complicity, hopelessness,    
   ya know
   how about u?
Amy:  yes, and from the little conversation    
   we’ve previously had, I know we both    
   feel frustrated/enraged by a tendency in    
   “radical poetry” circles to ignore feminist 
   issues. What could be more anti-   
   revolutionary than that.
Cecilia:  right, or i mean, i wouldn’t 
   necessarily say “ignore”
   just kind of, defer those issues in favor of 
   anything else
   any other “issue” with radical flavor
   that can be argued from a position of 
   i notice that people also tend to get    
   muddled around the differences between    
   identity and political desires/demands    
   when it comes to gender equality
Amy:  A couple of problems come to mind: 
   first, these kinds of criticisms, based on    
   outmoded (essentializing) identity politics, 
   can so easily be dismissed; so how are 
   we supposed to critique the obvious    
   disparities along gender/race/sexuality/   
   class in the Anglo-American poetry scene 
   we’re familiar with. And then I was    
   thinking about the difficulty of “calling 
   people out” -- i.e. what does it mean to 
   call someone out? What politics and 
   privileges come into play when you 
   situate yourself as one who can “call out”    
   sexism, misogyny, racism...
Cecilia:  yeah, that’s the rub. i mean, i think 
   the best way to have these conversations 
   would be if eve
   everyone** was able to kind of, give it up 
   in terms of their own contingencies and    
   acknowledge that their critique was    
   coming from an unstable position
   i just don’t think that hard-line identity    
   politics are that productive in this kind of    
   conversation: because after all what can    
   one really “demand” in terms of change?    
   i don’t think the people i know in poetry       
   have very much power, except the 
   invisible homogenizing kind that makes 
   everyone adhere to norms which are 
   *just* seemingly radical enough that 
   people can feel legit... but i’d like to talk 
   more about what you mean when you 
   say “situate.” where does situating 
   oneself happen? is it internal, or 
Amy:  Good question. I think for me, it’s 
   both. Let’s take how I situate myself in 
   relation to the claudius app, for example. 
   One of my “problems” (which I don’t 
   believe is only *my* problem) is that 
   while, ostensibly, “people of colour” are 
   included in the claudius app, it still seems 
   to me to privilege a certain strand of work 
   by white male marxist poets. For 
   example, the convo between Keston and 
   JClo has become a kind of centrepiece. 
   Eg. there’s the way that Eric refers to 
   “*that* video of Keston Sutherland 
   speaking at the militant poetics 
   conference”, as if everyone already 
   knows *that* video and if you don’t then 
   you’re outside of the circle... and then, I 
   notice a marked lack of older women 
   writers? And a lack of black women? 
   Where does the claudius app, a US-
   based “radical” poetry journal, engage 
   indigenous issues and politics? Why are 
   so many young attractive women 
   featured in the claudius app? Why are 
   you and I featured? Are these too easy 
   criticisms? What does it mean that these 
   criticisms, based on identity politics, can 
   be easily dismissed? I don’t aim all of 
   these questions at the claudius app 
   alone, of course.
Cecilia:  oh boy.
   yeah, so let me take a minute to unpack 
   that...first of all i want to say that i don’t 
   know *that much about keston’s work, it 
   seems good, you know, and like, 
   definitely representative of a “trend”
   trend spotted: ie white dudes talking fast    
   and making lots of references to raymond    
   williams acolytes
   but anyway, to your point about claudius    
   i mean yeah, i would say it is 
   representative of a tendency that is 
   pervasive in the (i’m tired of calling it    
   poetry scene, but i guess poetry scene)...    
   and its definitely reflective of the eds own    
   tastes, social networks, and crushes
   though i would say i find CA’s particular    
   clustering of writers far far less    
   egregiously onanistic than many of their    
   i guess i’m not going to try to “answer” 
   all of these qs either, as i think my 
   tendency with something like, for 
   instance, the comparative lack of 50    
   something women vs. 50 something men 
   in the journal, would be to say, well, 
   yeah, and, our social sphere is deeply 
   embedded in a paternalistic and 
   misogynic stance which manifests in 
   many, many ways, the least of which    
   (arguably) is poetry... although the 
   difference with poetry and other 
   industries like the Art world and the 
   Academy is that these industries imagine 
   themselves to be part of some kind of 
   unified avant garde commentary coyly 
   critiquing the powers that be
   which is annoying, because it makes it 
   easier for the profs/curators/editors/art 
   stars to silence these questions or put 
   these kinds of concerns on the back 
   burner because they’re “not the enemy”
   what do you think? do you think the    
   claudius app is more boy-man / cute gal 
   heavy than other journals of its kind?
Amy:  Yes I do, and I think that tendency 
   accompanies a high theory/low (internet) 
   culture aesthetic, an aesthetic that has a 
   particular whiteness to it too. Not to 
   imply that the editors are not aware of 
   this already. Really agree with your point 
   about this institution of avant-garde 
   commentary that positions itself as a 
   minority when so often it’s not. It reminds 
   me of Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s 
   invocation of the “critical academic”, 
   who is the professional academic par 
   excellence; who distances her/himself 
   professionally through critique, and in 
   this way readily assents to her/his own 
   privatization. Is this becoming the 
   behaviour of poets too? What I’m taking 
   issue with here is not Keston’s work -- 
   but with a whole gestural economy that’s 
   both historical and casually social, an 
   economy that always still ensures the 
   white men are at the top of the pile, they 
   are the authority, they are the ones who 
   so often define the terms of the debate.
Cecilia:  oh that’s a really good point about 
   the high/low internet thing, damn
Amy:  I wanted to ask you (in the context 
   of your own work and performance, 
   maybe) about affect, too...
Cecilia:  i’m curious if you could define 
   more clearly what you mean by a 
   “particular” whiteness? how might we 
   describe it (i intuitively know what you 
   mean, but it’s hard to find language that 
   doesn’t just dissolve into the vertigo i feel 
   every time i try to talk about whiteness: 
   it’s boring, it’s awful, it’s omnipresent... 
   oh just got your last chat
   re: affect in my own work... haha its kind 
   of perfectly tied in, actually, to the aporia/
   vertigo i was talking about
   i guess we both asked one another 
   questions... do you mind answering mine 
Amy:  perhaps we could talk about 
   whiteness and “flat affect”
Cecilia:  ha! yeah.
   ugh, that thing.
   i mean more power to whoever has 
   access to it and/or finds it useful
   but i personally find it impossible to feign 
   and i feel that all of the professional lines    
   i’ve been/have been involved in with the 
   exception of the entertainment industry, 
   demand a flat affect to some extent
   and flat so often means male
Amy:  yeah -- how do you feel when you 
   perform your poetry?
   (you don’t have to answer that!)
Cecilia:  awesome :)
   no but i feel a lot of different ways,    
   obviously depending on where the work 
   is, how the crowd is, etc
   but honestly, its usually when i’m most    
   comfortable with my gender, when i’m 
   performing my work
Amy:  do you feel vulnerable and/or 
   exposed? I do...
Cecilia:  yeah for sure
   i often get really shaky and insecure 
   afterwards, but never before
   i guess that, for me, doing butler’s    
   “necessary drag” is only visible then
   and afterwards i get worried that people 
   didnt’ get that
   which sometimes of course, they don’t
   maybe none of this makes sense since 
   you havent seen me read i think (nor i 
   you)... but it’s quite uhm performative
Amy:  I’ve heard about your readings!
Cecilia:  yeah?
Amy:  Yes, that they are “performative”, 
   which is, uh, vague... but it’s interesting 
   that you should be singled out as a 
   “performative poet”! (I really wanted to 
   go to that Living Labour and Performance 
   conference at NYU, btw)
Cecilia:  yeah i mean
   i find poetry readings pretty boring 
   so i try not to be boring
   and more than that... that’s sort of a glib    
   way of saying what happens
   but it involves a lot of playing with 
   i really just think things would be better if 
   people were more comfortable    
   acknowledging to themselves that they 
   want to entertain their audience
Amy:  I agree. I just started reading Jose 
   Munoz’s writing on affect and race
Cecilia:  ah. sad. he was a good one
Amy:  I want to find a quote to send you
Cecilia:  please
Amy:  “Once we look at whiteness from a 
   racialized perspective, like that of Latinos, 
   it begins to appear to be flat and 
Cecilia:  yes !
Amy:  and: “the presence of Latina/o affect 
   puts a great deal of pressure on the 
   affective base of whiteness, insofar as it 
   instructs us in a reading of the affect of 
   whiteness as underdeveloped and 
Cecilia:  hahaha
   i love it
Amy:  do you have an idea of what it is you 
   do, in your performance, that the 
   audience finds particularly entertaining?
   yeah it’s great isn’t it.
Cecilia:  have you heard they find it 
   entertaining! i hope so!
   i want people to be entertained
   well hm
Amy:  I mean, tell me your tricks? Or don’t    
   -- keep them secret
Cecilia:  that’s hard to explain really... i 
   mean to be honest i take a lot from 
   places that aren’t poetry, stand up for 
   and secretly, not secretly, i am trying to    
   move towards making talk-pieces and    
   whatever you’d call the things i’m making 
   now, faux poetry readings, that would be 
   legible outside of poetry
Amy:  is there a video online of a reading 
   of yours?
Cecilia:  i’m trying to just like, make pieces
   actually there’s a clip that just went up    
   from teh reading i did with cori in iowa
   it was so fun
   i love reading with her
Amy:  I like the idea of a faux poetry 
Cecilia:  and this other amazing lady, sara 
   deniz akant
   ok i’ll copy in the clip
   it’s just a section, the whole piece takes    
   like 25 mins:
Amy:  okay. thank you
Amy:  I’m wondering if it would be nice to 
   end here on your reading... (glad I got 
   paired with you).
Cecilia:  :) aww
   ok though i did want to tell you
Amy:  yes
Cecilia:  ending it that way, i also want to 
   say i loved the thing in capilano review
   i read it today it’s so great
Amy:  oh thank you! It’s a poem for Nancy 
   Shaw and Catriona Strang, a response to 
   their book Light Sweet Crude.
Cecilia:  i dont know that book but i should 
   check it out
   but yeah... i feel like we just got started
   “performative” vs. curation, whiteness/    
   self-identifying as a member of the avant 
   garde... i wish we had time to make a    
Amy:  do you want to pick up again 
   tomorrow? Either in private or under the 
   glaring CCTV of the claudius app...
Cecilia:  yeah lets
   let’s cheat
Amy:  fine by me
Cecilia:  this was grand i hope you feel    
Amy:  I took some Tylenol cold and flu... 
   night night, C! x
Cecilia:  good, rest well ! xxo