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  • Maria Sledmere

(ESSAY) ‘I must love my nothingness’: ecologies of wounding in Mai Ivfjäll's Weep Hole

Dwelling in the weeping rosarium of Mai Ivfjäll’s Weep Hole (Sad Press, 2020), Maria Sledmere explores a poetics of feminine wounding, ecological intimacy, chronic illness, desire and post-internet melancholia, drawing upon thinkers from Jacques Derrida to Deborah Bird Rose and Simone Weil. Ivfjäll’s work is of shimmer, alchemy, bleed and nothingness; an exquisite corpus of the spectral dreamlife, its anthropocenic residues, its pain and boredom.

‘I was once called a wound-dweller.’ - Leslie Jamison, ‘Grand Unified Theory of Pain’

Weep hole: a small opening that allows water to drain from an assembly, necessary to prevent ‘Leaky Building Syndrome’ and let excess water escape. Weep holes might occasion the unintended consequence of inviting rodents, insects, sparks and embers into a structure. They can be an intentional or inevitable wound in one’s dwelling place: a site of both overflow and containment. Mai Ivfjäll’s Weep Hole (Sad Press, 2020) sojourns in many wounds, including chronic illness, ecological intimacy, feminine suffering and climate crisis. Its lyric architecture is a trembling filigree of textspeak and micro-sonnet, sought transcendence and post-internet melancholia, flesh and spectrality. Between soft touch laminate, the butterfly stamp on its back, the hot pink goth font that announces its title, Weep Hole hovers between stasis and flight. Ivfjäll’s poetics make space for a weeping of boundaries, texts, affects and bodies.

Aside from architectural ones, what kinds of weeping holes exist? Punning on the word ‘period’, the blurb which pulls from the title poem reads:

but this isn’t a period poem it’s a poem period or maybe it’s a weep hole — I’m just a weep hole helping lessen the spiritstatic load on the masonry of whatever

Can you have period poems the way you have period dramas or period novels? Imagine writing in eighteenth-century drag, with all the requisite aleatory of capitalisation. I’m sure it’s been done. What Ivfjäll is more likely referencing is menstruation. There are some great period poems out there: Alice Notley’s ‘Beginning with a Stain’, in part an elegy for her stepdaughter Kate Berrigan (I’m / afraid to speak, not of being indiscreet, but of / touching myself too near, too near to / my heart bed’), Ariana Reines’ ‘You Know What Comes Next’ (‘I thought I’d stopped bleeding / But I was wrong. A fine confetti / Of late blood dusted all three / Rest stop toilets’, M. NourbeSe Philip’s ‘Cyclamen Girl’ (‘Images blur-bleed into each other / as if the fixer didn’t quite work, / or maybe it was the heat that caused the leak’) and Bernadette Mayer’s ‘Ode on Periods’ (‘so much for confessionalism / I won’t call on the moon like in a real poem / or anthropology or the bible or talk about being untouchable / or power etc. I’ve nothing at all to say but to exercise / my freedom to speak about everything’). Touching on blood is a way of letting the poem say a lot; announce things are leaking, fertile, in excess. And yet periods are so banal; they come all the time. Period poems might raise the question of what is a gendered poetics of the everyday that doesn’t reduce the act of speaking from a body to the essentialised confessional, but keeps open the speaker’s leaky potential in language. ‘it’s a poem period’ Ivfjäll’s speaker insists, before elaborating, ‘maybe it’s a weep hole’. In the initial telegraphic clipping or refusal — it’s a poem PERIOD, it’s a poem FULL STOP — Ivfjäll like Mayer is speaking a kind of negative dialectics of ‘nothing at all to say but to exercise / my freedom to speak about everything’. So the poem performs in its utterance that speech from an abject place: the weep hole of feminised pain, where language is sometimes inadequate and swallowed. And the I too becoming a weep hole, ‘helping lessen / the spiritstatic load on the masonry of whatever’. I’ve been trying to figure out this masonry, the stonework of the book which is otherwise so butterfly light in my hands. The masonry which holds the poem’s many bees, their humming absence, spiritstatic — which I take to be something like the rasping pink noise of pain and loss that weighs on lyric air. A gesture towards the apian obsessions of Sylvia Plath, perhaps. An architecture, a place is needed to house that hum of absence (as Karen Barad reminds us, the void in its indeterminacy is never quite nothing, never quite empty).

Enter the sonnet. Some of the poems in Weep Hole emerge from an earlier project, Sick Sonnets, some of which were published last year by Burning House Press. In a recent interview with Paul Cunningham, Ivfjäll says:

I’m not sure if these sonnets can be called utopian but they are a kind of love letter to the obliteration of self (and attunement to the present moment) that happens in the throes of chronic sickness. I haven’t figured out how to verbalise it, yet, but I think that those kinds of experiences might be catalysts for new ways of relating to nature.

‘I haven’t figured out how to verbalise it’ is also the speaker’s condition of (im)possibility in these sonnets. Their ecology is the very fact of speaking from a position that acknowledges its inherent wounding: Ivfjäll writes through chronic illness/autoimmune disease in a way that heightens states of encounter with the more-than-human and the intimacies of ecological enmeshment. The wound that haunts these poems is an ecological tracing, a constant (re)mark on the speaker’s presence in a disseminated, cellular and leaky sense. As Timothy Morton argues in Dark Ecology (2016), ‘We have been hurt by the things that happened to us. But, in a way, to be a thing at all is to have been hurt. To coexist is to have been wounded’. Human beings are not bounded creatures, but coexistent with other species all the way down. This constitutes a kind of originary wound in identity, a mark of enmeshment and biological opening. The wound of the poems and the poems’ wounding allows for a certain experience of ecological hospitality. In her book Strangers (2020), Rebecca Tamás begins the chapter ‘On Hospitality’ with a quote from Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. (1964): ‘Never leave that country of rats and tarantulas and cockroaches, my darling, where delight drops in thick drops of blood’. There is a kind of ‘terrible intimacy’ (Tamás) in the way Lispector addresses us: the possessive ‘my darling’; the imploring never to leave that country of the abject — that khoratic space, where delight and disgust coexist.

Weep Hole dwells in an alchemical poetics where substances are the pharmakon of both poison and cure, where images morph into each other, where words are spells that don’t always work, but glitch and refrain. Spells sewn through the poem from the context of their original speech acts. Slogans from a former utopia, an erotics beyond the productive drives of capitalist desire; an erotics that thirsts for its own waste also, that does not clarify through lyric exclamation but stays in strangeness:

desire no longer recognised i want to eat every daisy & dandelion i see i want to swallow the rain as if it were your come or drink the rain like piss if pee tasted like memaw’s sweet tea which i pretend it does women’s bane, wolf’s bane, queen of all poisons so many ways of saying flower power

This is the sound of someone sexting nature in the hot rain of a more-or-less present season, lightning emitting from her fingertips (Justine in Melancholia style) with each soft press of the button. It’s fourteen lines, a sonnet, and so only natural that we think about love. One of the joys of Ivfjäll’s poetics is a wordplay that unspools from itself between inside and outside, between meaning and force: ‘i wish / i could give birth to an orchid as my body moves / in one language & thinks in another — another landscape / another tongue’ (‘Glossolalia’). Place and speech are entangled in writing. More wordplay: the repeated ‘rain’, the internal rhymes of ‘pee’, ‘memaw’, ‘tea’ and ‘sweet’; the way she associates women’s bane (presumably menstruation – what a pain!) with wolf’s bane (a wolf-killing poison), flirting with the lunar association of wolf and woman and toasting ‘queen of all poisons’ as a kind of solvent for gendered production, where the body fluids of desire and waste are interchangeable. Sex and excess; hunger expelling itself. The speaker elicits nothing less than a longing to imbibe Nature, ‘every daisy & dandelion’, exposing the absurdity of any conception that Nature was somehow apart from her. And that distinction between a weathering intimacy and sexual motion, ‘swallow the rain as if it were your come’ is held in the tensile allure of the ‘as if’.

All of which is to say, ‘so many ways of saying flower power’ – the trite, tired slogan of hippies is regurgitated as this semi-ironic gesture of a speech act at the edge of the almost octave, whose eight line doesn’t connect: ‘i am attempting telekinetic connections to clouds / but i just end up in THE CLOUD adblock’. That wandering cloud of lyric musing (cloud figures the shape of thought) is here a mind of its own – unlike some poets, Ivfjäll is respectful enough to suggest at the very least telekinesis is necessary – but any attempt to reach it folds back into the reified ‘CLOUD’ of iCloud, The Cloud, the massively distributed hyperobject that is our archival second body, to use Daisy Hildyard’s term. This ‘i’ is a little buzzing lyric thing that won’t connect, that glitches in the algorithmic stoppage of ‘adblock’, that resists the interference of both capitalist desire (ubiquitous advertisement and reified conceptions of Nature) and ‘all the art bros of the anthropocene / that are having emotional responses / to the end of nature’. This eye-roll gesture at recent cultural responses to ecological discourse is delicious, recalling the tumblr shorthand and hashtag rhizomes of Caspar Heinemann’s Novelty Theory (2019). Being consciousness-raised to ‘the end of nature’ means grappling with the affect trends of all kinds of hyperstition: ‘if i scrawl on myself EARTHLING will i live long enough / that that becomes a weird planetary-nationalist / identity Will?’ (Heinemann, ‘nihilist mattress purchase november’).[1] Is the result a kind of wired, emotional entropy, or the collapsed temporality of melancholia?

A duotone image where a group of men stand around a young girl with her back turned to the camera; some of the men's arms are raised

One manifestation of left melancholia, as Mark Fisher argues in his final lectures, recently published in Postcapitalist Desire (2020), is the orientation towards apocalypse. Another is a kind of ‘Detached political nostalgia for […] older forms of masculine labour’, a ‘reactive model’ to capital that hones in on retroactive imaginaries of mining and other physical, male-dominated conceptions of work (Fisher 2020). After some digging, I discovered Weep Hole’s cyan-filtered cover image is from a series of Russell Lee photographs associated with the Farm Security Administration work of the 1930s and the American Mining Communities project in the 1940s. Its context, then, is archival documentation of mining communities in rural America. The image depicts an apparently young girl in a dress, standing in a room of mostly men, some of them with their hands on her shoulders and head in a raptured or focused, attentive state. Someone is holding an unplayed guitar. While difficult to extrapolate the social situation or actual goings-on of the image, the balance between feminine stasis and masculine agency forms an interesting tension. It’s almost as if the girl has a kind of ritual power the men are touching. She bears the load of spiritstatic. She is almost ghostly.

In Camera Lucida (1980), Roland Barthes writes of a photographic ‘punctum’, coming from the Latin meaning ‘a wound, a mark left by a pointed instrument’. These ‘stings’, ‘specks’ or occasional details, strange textures or objects can pierce or ‘prick’ the viewer — although what constitutes a punctum is contingent on who is looking. A crucial element of the punctum is a quality of mystery: ‘What I can name cannot really prick me’, Barthes elaborates. The strange or ghostly essence of punctum in the Russell Lee photograph here might be the priestly raising of hands, the clutched white cloth (fuzzy around the edges presumably from the image’s lossy compression), the open mouth of a cry, the man who looks directly at the camera with this fixed, almost knowing expression. It might be the way the ‘flattening’ of the photograph allows its whites to leak into the white of Ivfjäll’s book cover. It might be the way the girl is turned away.

This evocation of the prick and the wound leads us to another crucial motif of Weep Hole: William Blake’s sick rose. As Leopold Bloom muses darkly in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), ‘No roses without thorns’. He’s fondling the flower from a pinhold sent by his erotic pen pal, Martha, reflecting, ‘Language of flowers. They like it because no-one can hear. Or a poison bouquet to strike him down’. Pharmakon again: poison and cure. Ivfjäll’s speaker becomes the named ‘hyacinth girl’ of Weep Hole’s epigram, taken from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) – hyacinths being anti-inflammatory, a treatment for snake bites, an apparent symbol of constancy and sincerity. These semantic resonances are teased at throughout Weep Hole. In his essay ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’, Jacques Derrida writes: ‘Operating through seduction, the pharmakon makes one stray from one’s general, natural, habitual paths and laws’, ‘The leaves of writing act as a pharmakon to push or attract out of the city the one who never wanted to get out, even at the end, to escape the hemlock’. Punning on the notion of ‘lock’ as enclosure (or hemming in) and the highly poisonous plant of the parsley family (not to mention the verbal gesture of exit in ‘leaves’ at play with the plant-related noun), Derrida suggests how writing is this pharmakon sense of being lured away from all fixtures and foundations of metaphysical premise. The city or masonry hold the text. Weep Hole plays into the pharmakon with its more-than-decorative, multisensory tracery of foliage (‘i want to trace / the edges / of every leaf’ – ‘Mind Touch’), slime and looping image (‘slime gifs / are prayer psalms of goo / asmr’ – ‘Keening’) and the ‘echoing / body of language’ which is a ‘ghost embrace’ (‘Not as Moths’). These images are by nature weepy, leaking, overgrown, excessive, furled. Ivfjäll’s use of the pharmakon is a kind of productive ‘adblock’ against the pop-up, easythink ‘emotional responses to the end of nature’ which travel memetically through contemporary apocalypse discourse, often serving to amplify the homogenising concept of ‘humanity’ held within the Anthropocene, with no recourse to historical critique. As Heinemann reminds us on ‘Theses on Land Masses (After Ian Hamilton Finlay)’, ‘adblock / is land struggle’ — the so-called commons of the internet is a contested space of corporate currency and financialised algorithms. Rather than metaphorically invoke the body as a microcosmic site for understanding the grand drama of ecocide, the leaky body of Weep Hole is more a khoratic space, a weeping receptacle for encountering the weird affects, dream-times, lyric slippages, morphologies, dehiscence and existential suspensions of deep coexistence: ‘i start to feel like i might become a rain drop’ (‘Glossolalia’), ‘i’m a weird pony / smearing my face in rose / petals’ (‘The Rose’), ‘my care is erratic’ (‘Pteridomania’ – a word which refers to the Victorian mania for ferns).

A reproduction of William Blake's 'The Sick Rose' poem with illustrations of thorned rose branches, some looking wilted

Blake’s ‘The Sick Rose’, from Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789), apostrophises the rose as sick, and Ivfjäll’s twist is to write from something like the rose’s perspective. Of Sick Sonnets, Ivfjäll writes:

The sonnets are sick in the sense that they have the body of a traditional sonnet (though there is one that leaks across several pages) but inside they are a mess. The sonnets are infected, inflamed, gorging on language, high on codeine, and totally bored. They are divided between pages because I want them to be accessible to people experiencing brain fog, fatigue, and other mental states that can make reading poetry difficult.

The sonnets are performances of pain, but the pain is still deeply felt in them — as Leslie Jamison reminds us, ‘Pain that gets performed is still pain’. This fold between the outside and inside – the architecture of the sonnet and the inside mulch, slime and ghost hardware of Ivfjäll’s wounded mothspeak – is a kind of hospitality and again recalls the wayward, potentially lethal attract and turn of the pharmakon. You can’t really ‘stay’ in the sonnet if it spreads between pages, but that refusal generates openness. In Weep Hole, this mobius technique is transferred to a refrain of images and motifs – from the ‘secret alphabet’ of a pharmakon language (between speech and writing, bodily tracery) to slime/s(ub)lime, flowers, the moon and rain – that interweave throughout the poems. Ivfjäll’s lyric instrument is a kind of butterfly lyre that plays too close to the light, highly strung yet also strung out on language, between satiation and perpetual desire, pain and its narcotic numbing, brain fog and sudden clarity. Her ecological thought dwells in the motion of shimmer, as Deborah Bird Rose explains:

For shimmer to capture the eye, there must be absence of shimmer. To understand how absence brings forth, it must be understood not as lack but as potential. This is where one grasps, afresh, the awful disaster of extinction cascades: not only life and life’s shimmer but many of its manifold potentials are eroding.

In a riff on Plath’s ‘Mirror’, Ivfjäll’s ‘Into Longing Vast Rose’ contains a shimmer of echo:

if i was exact & silver instead selves echoing across all these places that are home but not home

The mirror becomes a conditional for the impossibility of clean reproduction: what surface the speaker faces does not reflect but refract myriad ‘selves / echoing’ and the places she invokes are uncanny for being both homely and unhomely. Plath’s take on the tale of Narcissus has a post-internet spin in the mise en abyme of this echoing poem (echo as its centre), a place and placing, whose spacing dramatises the icy proximity of intimacy at a distance. Each word is a touch, a command aslant; each space a spread. ‘Into Longing Vast Rose’ makes me think of Jackie Wang’s ‘Divine Aphasia’, the opening stanza:

Have you ever half conscious sat wanting at your computer And in the space of a blank virtual page saw all that you could be That you could be free Or so undone you could call it being free

There is a void we confront when we stare into the refractive, shimmering howl of the internet. In the face of endless possibility, we go into drift. What is called ‘being free’ is structured beyond us. We need shimmering, haunted architectures that modify thought from these short-circuited, ever-present neoliberal modes of being free (click what you like). There is a paring of presence/absence, withhold and expression, in Ivfjäll’s writing that works towards this. To grasp something terrible from absence, becoming undone; Plath’s ‘terrible fish’, ‘terrible intimacy’ (Tamás), shimmering beneath the virtual surface – on the etymological knife-edge of awe and terror. I want to suggest that maybe the shimmer is a form of spacing, a hospitable gesture that allows for slower and more fragmentary, more charged and affective modes of reading, as per Ivfjäll’s statement above. But it is also a structural sense of betweenness that is ecological by way of a gesture to the dissolve (see Stacy Alaimo, ‘Your Shell on Acid: Posthuman Vulnerability, Anthropocene Dissolves’) of life, of abundance, the possibility of speech:

we try to become languageless but there is frost on the grass & i keep thinking words fuck how it sparkles ensnaring my tongue (‘Ambient Embodiment’)

Who is this intimate ‘we’? You and I in the poem, we want to reach towards this perfect state of ecological harmony: presumably this is ‘languageless’, this is sublimity; but the very texture of Nature itself is language. The ‘frost / on the grass’ makes words think themselves in the speaker’s head. There is no seamless embrace of Nature without mediation. The consonance of ‘sparkles’ and ‘fuck’ is that shimmer of accident, lyric surprise, the frost getting into the poem – the soft little clicks of it. Cold fractals of words ‘ensnaring my tongue’. Even the sick rose cannot have a pure, ‘animal’ experience of Nature. The ‘it’ here, hanging on the end of the line, does so much work. It is all the frost and other coverings. The ‘secret ministry’ of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s frost, in ‘Frost at Midnight’: a poetic labour, a mode of attendance.

On Mai Ivfjäll’s twitter recently I saw a quote from Simone Weil: ‘I must love being nothing. How horrible it would be if I were something. I must love my nothingness, love being a nothingness’. Perhaps this ‘being a nothingness’ is Ivfjäll’s ‘ambient embodiment’: a sense of bearing the unbearable and being the weep hole and the weeping. ‘your body is / nothing my body is / nothing / our bodies are nothing’ (‘With the Cuties or I Will Atone’). A receptacle yet musically clinks as it empties. There are psalm-like qualities to these poems: they are songs (sonnets are literally little songs), there is a sacredness to their minimalism. A sharing of pain. A search for a language beyond kitsch, soundbite or memetic capture that would express whatever ennui and suffering the speaker is experiencing: ‘what is a word for chronic pain that doesn’t sound mallcore? / the bees are dying the bees are dying’ (‘Poembody’). If so much of our attempts at expression are swept into a post-internet language (‘mallcore’) of popular lyric, controlled by corporations, often intentionally nostalgic, overproduced, Weep Hole effects a negative capability that stays with the doubt and uncertainty of being a body (a girl body, a rose body, a rat body, a thrum of bees) in the twenty-first century (a problematic dialectic between ‘health’ and ‘living’, as suggested in ‘Suspended Not Suspended’). The bees are dying, repeated so, becomes estranged: a kind of slogan. Yet the refrain is not emptied of its meaning in semantic satiation; rather, insistence intensifies the violence of this fact: the bees are dying. And this was Weep Hole’s opening statement, a speech act drawing the reader to acts of noticing, echo: ‘the bees are dying — can you feel it?’ (‘Glossolalia’). A drama playing out in the hum and silence of Ivfjäll’s language. ‘my sick sick rose’, what do you have but words for the bees? There is a kind of Romantic suspension – the chosen languor of Wordsworth’s ‘for oft when on my couch I lie’ – set against the forced suspensions of chronic illness. But Ivfjäll doesn’t go in for easy binaries between an active and passive life: there is so much work, ‘unraveling’ and happening in language. Dreaming from bed. Her reference to the Surrealist game ‘exquisite corpse’ in ‘Naissance Diary’ highlights that play between the seen and unseen, the work of interpretation and production as exchange, the written and illustrated. The text and body; the text as body. In its secret folds of white space, Weep Hole is playing this game with you: teasing the reader to be unwritten as she herself ‘unwrite[s] [her] body’ and leaves us with elliptical, thorn-like cyphers ‘x / x’. Should we stay cool and look to the moon for answers?

As Mayer’s period poem goes ‘I won’t call on the moon like in a real poem’, Weep Hole has a totally refreshing approach to lunar imaginaries and their relationship to the body, its cycles and wounds. Perhaps for obvious and narcissistic reasons, my favourite poem of the book is ‘Mariology’, which hovers over the marias (large, basalt plains, formerly thought to be seas) of the moon, beginning ‘i wear modesty like a kink’. This Chelsey Minnis post-internet drag is so charming, I’m charmed - ‘i find a list on wikipedia maria of the moon’ - I think of this kink as a textual fold (an exquisite corpse fold!), the outside-inside, a little syncope caused by the pharmakon language we imbibe in the book. Also, kink as in ‘unusual’ sexual preferences: the ecosexuality of lusting after the ghost-seas of the moon, being entwined in thorns, a vore fetish for flowers and the water sports of the rain, the rain. I can’t help but think of the midi erotics of echo and psalm in Grimes’ early lofi recordings, notably Halfaxa (2010 - her ‘medieval’ and efflorescent album) in poems like ‘“Girls Own the Void” Outro’ (which surely riffs on Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World (Girls)’) – and there’s a definite sci-fi strain to this pamphlet, including references to ‘leelo’ from The Fifth Element – as well as the hypnagogic bedroom pop of Katie Dey. Dey’s vocals often strain against sonic distortions or find themselves in loops and whooshes. Dey, who also experiences chronic pain, explains the feedback loops between ‘my body causing pain to my brain and my brain causing pain to my body’. As Dey’s music often relays a more oceanic feeling, working with waves, suspension and dissolve instead of the usual climactic structures of pop, Ivfjäll’s work is always in process, resisting easy distinctions between presence/absence or definitions of wellness. She writes of ‘googling a new vocabulary’ where ‘healing is an endless emptying’.

What is a real poem and how does it call on the moon? I want to suggest the traditional lyric apostrophes that reify Nature, often as the symbolic backdrop for human desire, are swapped here for a more anthropocenic poetics drawn from both imagism and materialism, along with shimmers of confessionalism. Weep Hole explores what it means to be a wound dweller: to be a hyacinth girl in her bundles of rain, ‘neither / Living nor dead’, knowing ‘nothing, /Looking into the heart of light, the silence’ (Eliot). The penultimate untitled poem is a list of flowers, from ‘Wisteria’ to ‘Sweet pea’. It feels like the poet is offering you the garden of her glossary, the glossary of her garden, the glossolalia of pleasure in naming, a flower power more occult than hippie. What Joyce’s Bloom (and of course Georges Bataille!) evokes as the feminine ‘Language of flowers’. But would she tell you what these flowers symbolise? No, she’d dash away into spiritstatic, the butterfly at the back of the book, the sibilance of a final unrhymed couplet, ‘of sweet sap seep / as I melt in the sun’. Notice the ‘I’ here is capitalised, perhaps for the first time in the collection. It feels nourishing, earned, implying Ivfjäll’s language of flowers is more than sexual displacement — or is it the erect stem of a gestural phallogocentricism melting ‘in the sun’, returning to the inexpressible? Writing on ‘The Impossible’, Simone Weil argues: ‘The beautiful poem is the one which is composed while the attention is kept directed towards inexpressible inspiration, in so far as it is inexpressible’. This is a really great way to describe a Cocteau Twins song, but also a Mai Ivjfäll lyric. The sick rose, the speaker, has one eye on the transcendence and abstraction of the ‘cosmic’ while attending to the shimmering fallout of this attention — its ‘secret alphabet’ of ‘love’, ‘sparkles’, ‘strange fire’. Essentialist conceptions of the feminine or maternal, aligned with essentialist, objectifying ideas of Nature’s fertility and abundance, are dashed in favour of a weird, hauntological feminine: ‘the womb’s impulse / my tomblike interior’. ‘Wound’, Jamison claims, ‘implies en medias res: the cause of injury is past but the healing isn’t done’. Ivfjäll’s ecopoetics are dark, uncanny, laced with chamomile, strawberries and spectres. The last drops of blood, honey and echolocation; for more than the body, the rose, is sick. What is reproduced in these poems is a sense of being immersed, enmeshed; not of crisis, nostalgia or apocalypse but the dreamscapes and intimate nourishments of the everyday itself: ‘i birth / banality feeding you / the placenta of my boredom’.

Weep Hole is out now and available to order from Sad Press.


[1] See ‘Who’s Afraid of (Left) Hyperstitions?’ chapter by Armen Avanessian and Anke Hennig in a recent Sternberg Press publication, The Wild Book of Inventions (2020) for more on ‘hyperstition’ as a conceptual modality.


Text: Maria Sledmere

Published: 8/12/20


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