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Chapbook Q & A with Joanna Climaxus // Poor Banished Child of Eve

Read Poor Banished Child of Eve by Joanna Climaxus


What is poetry & why do you write it?

I think the definition changes with each poem/work
for this one, poetry is
The diaphanous—Synaptic—Liminal—Gauzy—Indeterminate—Apocryphal—When it hurts to look someone in the eye—A doppler effect—“Shame” as the failure to let go of a fantasy after it has abandoned you—The “…zinger of discovering that she has been trying, all her life, to seduce intermittent love into becoming a permanent and unconditional flow” (Berlant, on Sedgwick)—Pucker in the tapestry of ideas—Armoire of associations—Unconscious enactment of historical form—Quality of making light what is heavy—Excavation, the process of brushing past—A lingering cadence—Tone, or tonal shift—Residue—Rust—Saliva—Bridge, or a refrain—Parts that are not mistaken for their whole—Holes—Break into polyphony without the expense of fragmentation—(Remaining despite what threatens to atomize you)—“force of nature”—Inarticulate element—Crustacean’s soft body (relative to armor)

Right now the terms available to me to describe “why write” are inadequate—my muse doesn’t do safe words. 
I don’t see a difference between the human desire/need to speak & my desire/need to write poetry, in that I don’t know how not to: a compulsion? 
But “compulsion” feels pathological, & ^^^ isn’t. 
Maybe a drive: when desire/need is paired with survival? Could I survive without speaking/poetry?

Although we do not say a fig has a desire/need nor drive to exist, nor does it exist by compulsion or pathology. This might be an inadequacy in human understanding of plant consciousness. 

Poesis/being—being/process: poetry as a way of making space to survive the indeterminate—

What makes this a chapbook & not just a pile of poems?

It is probably neither—It doesn’t resemble a pile, anyway, & typically a chapbook is a sequence riding on a theme—Poor Banished Child of Eve is more of an epic in the thematic sense of leaving & return, although the psychic route is more of a ——👀——👀——👌——👀——🕸—— & its visual stitching is more of        //            //            //             //              with a lot of big-font texture: a tapestry or scroll. 
I’ve begun to embrace the chapbook as a poetic form—It is expansive enough to hold many ideas simultaneously, but short enough that I can catch up to my ambition in the end (my ideas tend to outrun me). The chapbook also allows for an object-flourish in the sense of making the book itself match its written content (e.g., the reason this one is digital: to allow for a “scrolling”—to hint at digital permanence—to nod to the virtual as an extension of the psychic—since the work is “about” the wear & tear of memory in time). 


I wanted to create texture/textile/tapestry, with “puckers” in the fabric—Large bolded fonts for voices that are not my own—To give the tapestry a hand-stitched feeling—Where the pucker is the object of an idea (a quote, like a little sequin-sing). I think one day I’d like to make a large tapestry-installation of it on handmade paper, perhaps handwritten. 


In the history of the tapestry, the form evolved from function—(wall hangings to keep out the damp) (Egyptians and Incas wrapped their dead in tapestry)—to something ornamental or narrative—another kind of function. In the 13th century the church used tapestry to depict bible stories for their illiterate congregation. So I suppose writing Poor Banished Child of Eve was a kind of reclamation of that. I wanted to unstitch the woven narrative (its imposition & history) with the warp & weft of affect & ambiguity (the blurring gesture of memory & presence). Not to blur the fact of history, but to repair its narrative (nerve-itive?) damage (the bible story of the immaculate conception, genetic contamination, definitions of “purity,” how that narrative gets passed on & becomes a traumatic reinscription on the social) & reclaim the psychology of the characters. The concept itself as colonizer and its expression as undoing/enacting it, depending. Alternative history/revision: the way in oral traditions, a myth changes to fit the atmosphere in which the story is told. 

Skimming through some articles on the art of tapestry weaving, I learn: The tapestry craftsman not only had to be an expert weaver but also needed to be skilled in the art of dying.   I read this wrong/it is spelled wrong—But either way it applies to writing—Stitching, dy(e)ing—a garment to protect a gainst a death drive?—Plath-style—Perhaps every poem is a kind of death dress for a co(r)pse of ideas. 

Are there any particular pronounced influences / guiding lights for this chapbook?


Formally/visually I was just having fun (see answer to question #2) but in a way the chapbook is about influence—who influences, who affects versus who is affected, who is the sewer & who is the sown etc.—these are interspersed in big bold text. Not very subtle, but since my writing tends toward the oblique, & Poor Banished deals with contamination of the gauzy or pure, I thought the “ugliness” of the domineering intellectual influence on the minuscula of the narrative made for interesting contrast.  

The pseudonym I used (which is also not-subtle in that I am not hiding in the name, more of a glasses + mustache ensemble) is a tip of my hat to Kierkegaard (Johannes Climactus) who used guises to explore doubt. So a way of ventriloquizing to explore questions or feelings—egolessness, or multiplicity. 

I started reading Alice Notley & Lauren Berlant’s work after I wrote this, but I feel like I channeled them both somehow, throughout. Always channeling Clarice Lispector and Helene Cixous, Claudia Rankine & Maggie Nelson.
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