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(SPAM Cuts) ‘Blue #1′ by Imogen Cassels


This week’s SPAM Cut features Maria Sledmere on ‘Blue #1′ by Imogen Cassels. You can read ‘Blue #1′ for free here, in Blackbox Manifold. 

> During the more fragile periods of my life my nails would turn blue, sometimes my lips. These blueish insignia perhaps signified a brush with death, something cool and eternal that dwelled in possible form beneath the surface. Traces of blue as flickered return. I looked a little alien, aquatic; my spine had the visible undulations of a waterborne creature. There was no need for excess flesh. I think of blue and I think of desire and elegy, the life we lead when we excoriate ourselves of the present tense, its thickness of nowness.

> Blue is sublime, primary, desirable: blue jeans and blue movies. ‘Blue #1′ is the first of twin poems by Imogen Cassels, mourning songs for something lost. To number your poem that way, to assign it a colour, is perhaps to attempt to classify, to order and gradate your feelings. There is a cool withdrawal, a refusal to decorate. The speaker finds herself flaking away, ‘I am so far somewhere else’; the ashes she scatters spread love to ‘the far and fainting sea’. There is violence down the lines, a sort of razoring ‘mutation’, a cleaving to the ‘cutout stars’ and need for the clarity of aquamarine. By the sea we bubble with things we suppress. They come out of us in the salty air, sparkling. What stings and hardens to ‘crystal’; yet the wetness remains, it spills over, it glistens as a ‘maritime chandelier’. Its sorrow resplendent somehow, ‘the first baptism’, a ‘vital translucency’. Never quite solidly one thing, nor completely nothing either.

> Reading this poem, I think of the melancholy, chromatic erotica of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, I think of the soft, sliding opacity of Lisa Robertson’s weather poetics. There is a shirking of present materials for new ones, ‘resolving / to resolve myself only into water’. There is a charge, a vibrant cascade of affect and energy. The speaker’s need for metamorphosis comes as a sequin diffusion of glitter and scales and spray. In weakness and sadness we are other than human; we are as a hue, we are tinted. We notice the change on our bodies: ‘This time the bruises are silver’. I think of the blues, blue chord, blue cords. Lana Del Rey, ‘Blue Jeans’: I will love you till the end of time. What is it about blue, the way we apply it to naturalised canvases, the way we push it to infinitude?

> Lemon juice does for invisible ink. You heat the paper to read it again. There is a date in this poem, hidden, there is an event, a love or a death, that dissolves in the chromaphilia of lossy compression, the way colours just come in their cool pixelation. New blues and greys and mackerel metallica, the bounce of light off skyscrapers. I slip too easily off this poem’s surfaces, its enjambment slick as ‘fish oil & streaming water’.

> Emily Berry: ‘The mood of the sea is catching’. The elemental dialogue of elegy.

> Here the speaker is looking for the sea, for substance; for the ‘old moon’ cute like a fairy tale’s ‘blanched pea’. Maybe the layers of herself will soften within one of several shells: ‘my feet turn to lobsters and myself / to every single possible shell of scared blue’. The desire to be contained in multitudes. To be that present and everywhere attuned as potential. One time I read a book by a chef, who obnoxiously compared his first oyster to losing his virginity. Maybe there’s a truth in that: in paring something yourself, loosening the awkward shell of your pain to let out the softness beneath, cold and delicious, there’s a similar release. Finding yourself outside of yourself, then having the strength to touch the world again, pearlescent, to let it stream through you: ‘The body is aqueduct’.

Text: Maria Sledmere

Image: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Nintendo Gamecube)


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