Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gord Downie (February 6, 1964 – October 17, 2017)



As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Gordon Edgar Downie, poet, lyricist and front-man for The Tragically Hip, has died. How much can I add? What can I say that might even be relevant?

His sense of Canadian wasn’t nationalistic, but openly inclusive, passionate, critical and uniquely lyric. There was a generosity and attentiveness to him that was quite remarkable. He worked to make us better, more aware and closer to each other.

Christine and I watched that final show on the CBC last year and were transfixed, in awe of what the Hip had accomplished over their tenure, and amazed at how CBC was aware enough to capture such an important cultural moment, both live and commercial-free.

The summer after the publication of his poetry collection, Coke Machine Glow (2001), he came through Ottawa to finally launch the book at an event hosted by the ottawa international writers festival. He opened his reading to an audience of some three hundred plus to a poem of mine, from my collection bagne: or Criteria for Heaven (Broken Jaw Press, 2001). I was floored.

Apparently at the Ottawa Book Awards ceremony the other night, Sean Wilson mentioned the look on my face as this happened. I can’t even imagine, or recall. I know throughout the reading, Gord read poems by four other poets: David O’Meara, Karen Solie, Al Purdy and Elizabeth Bishop. I hope I’m remembering that correctly. The on-stage interview was conducted by Ken Babstock.

I was already aware of a recommendation he’d made, via the Chapters.ca website (a post long disappeared). He’d been asked to recommend other first poetry titles by Canadian titles, and mentioned my first collection alongside first collections by Paul Vermeersch and, I think, Babstock and Solie as well (the list is hazy now in my recollections).

Prior to the event, as Sean and I stood in the National Archives, we spotted Neil Wilson and Gord Downie walking toward us from the entranceway, Gord holding up a copy of my book as they approached. How, I asked myself, was this happening?

After the reading, we walked with Gord into the Byward Market for drinks, and some of us took turns wearing his jean jacket; like teenagers. He seemed amused by us.

The following night, he’d left tickets for a number of us for the Blues Festival show the Hip were doing. I took my daughter Kate, and we ended up in the V.I.P. section, where she was able to meet opening performer Sarah Harmer. Kate and I walked home on air, stopping for pizza on Bank Street around midnight (the first we’d walked more than half a block without my preteen child complaining I needed a car).

It was a baffling generosity by a man who clearly had an enormous amount of time, attention and energy for everyone around him. He made things better wherever he went, and as much as he could, including, even in the months following his diagnosis, giving an incredible amount of attention to helping others.

The likes of him will not be soon this way again. Godspeed, Mr. Downie. You will be missed.


Friday, October 20, 2017

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Tung-Hui Hu



Tung-Hui Hu is the author of three books of poetry, The Book of Motion (2003), Mine (2007), and Greenhouses, Lighthouses (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), a chapbook, On the Kepel Fruit (Albion Press, 2017), and a study of digital culture, A Prehistory of the Cloud (MIT Press, 2015). He has received awards from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, the NEA, and the San Francisco Foundation, and his poems have appeared in places such as Boston Review, Ploughshares, the Academy of American Poets’s Poem-a-Day, and the anthology Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of Hybrid Literary Genres. Hu teaches poetry and digital studies at the University of Michigan, where he is an assistant professor of English.

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
The year my first book came out I moved back to California and entered a graduate program in architecture. At the time, and for a few years afterwards, that book felt more like the end of something, rather than the beginning of, say, a literary career. Now that empty feeling has lessened a bit, but it wasn’t until the difficult birth of my second book that I began to feel my life had changed. My most recent work is more prosaic and less dressed up in finer language; I’m happier to say what I really mean to say.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
Besides the appeal of its brevity, I was working a summer job down the street from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, and decided to try a course. I didn’t fit in at all. The poets translated from other languages; were older; had pain, etc. – nothing I had experienced yet, being still a teenager. I was fascinated by my fellow students and instructors, flattered that I could possibly be considered one of ‘them,’ and wanted to do it, too.


3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
Usually I have an object I want to write about, but not the angle. And I always imagine everyone else has thought of the object and been struck by how poetic it is. That full eclipse that just happened in the US, for example; so many terrible poems, and probably a few good ones, will be written about it. So it takes a long time for my writing to mutate into something strange enough that I won’t be embarrassed by my starting point.

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
There are big, abstract questions that keep floating about my head – about how we write about empire, about the invisible, about capital. And there are also stories that I come across from reading other books, the news, etc. – for instance, about the rarest pasta on earth, or a 17th-century beached whale. The poem often comes out of trying to figure out how to combine those two extremes. As for your question about scale, I often begin by imagining everything as part of a “book”, even if that book is entirely fictitious. It takes the pressure off making each line perfect.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
Readings feel like the reward for writing – the part where we can all just be witty rather than dour, which is my on-page personality. People who come up to me and tell me what lines they remember or enjoy, or other books to read, are helpful to my process, too. I won’t always remember what I was thinking when I wrote a poem, but I’ll always remember the times I’ve been heckled by the audience or, occasionally, the organizer.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I’m currently working on an academic book about lethargy, so the questions on my mind are about passivity and how we negotiate political (in)action within the constraints of capitalism. Because I was asked to give a few talks on the environment, I’m also thinking about nonhuman agency, and as a result, I have some new poems written from the time and perspective of mushrooms and mayflies.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Most of my colleagues and friends are (correctly and necessarily) outspoken about the political role of writing and about writing’s ability to intervene in culture. For me, though, I’m a reticent writer; that’s my personality. Writing shouldn’t need to do anything; it shouldn’t have to justify itself. The doesn’t-do-anything part of writing is, for me, an antidote to a neoliberal world that’s hellbent on making everything productive.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I’ve worked most closely with an outside editor on my nonfiction book A Prehistory of the Cloud, and found it absolutely essential. Ben called bullshit on a lot of my rhetorical flourishes—those tricks to disguise the moments I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was saying. And he helped me think about the architecture of my story, rather than jump from idea to idea.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Never ever bad mouth your colleagues.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical/academic prose)? What do you see as the appeal?
It’s gone a bit better than I expected; it was made easier by discovering how many other poets have made that transition, such as Lewis Hyde. The appeal of critical prose for me has been that it’s a chance to provoke, to change how people think about a subject by wrenching the steering wheel away from the previous ways of doing things. The tough part has been keeping a consistent tone, since, as a poet, I obviously like experimenting with the craft of writing. Nobody will ever notice, but there’s a really deft jump-cut between two ideas in A Prehistory of the Cloud. That’s the stuff I’m secretly proudest of.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I only get to write poetry for about a month, maybe a month and a half, each year. So most of that time is spent trying to figure out what I was trying to do the previous year—what I was doing with line; what experiments or ideas had stalled. A typical day begins with a bagel and cream cheese, reading over my drafts from the previous day and whatever book is on my desk, and writing down what ideas I want to try working on for the day.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
I guess I go for a walk? That, and returning to an Asian American sense of shame that I’m wasting someone’s time/money by not writing?

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Salt water and laundry exhaust, and if I’m really being honest, a bit of urine, too.

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Mostly visual art. I’m currently obsessed with Candice Breitz’s “Love Story”, a multi-channel installation with Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore performing a script based on interviews Breitz did with six refugees from Syria, Angola, India, Venezuela, Somalia, and the DR Congo. It uses Hollywood stars to expertly dismantle the Hollywood star system and the white savior myth.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
C.D. Wright, Cornelius Eady, Kimiko Hahn, off the top of my head, to name some of my “elders” that continue to influence me.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
I’d like to live on a canal boat (narrowboat).

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I had a very brief taste of working as a political consultant, and I might like to pursue that career at some point – I like the strategizing and the details (some might say minutiae) of the game, and of course the stakes feel very high right now. I also just learned about the foreign service exam; I did reasonably well on a practice test, and that seems like it would have been a better way of spending my 20s/30s.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
Perhaps that I’m a slow thinker, and appreciate the length of time that one can take between books – no editor or publisher will ever be pounding the table, demanding my next book of poetry.  Not producing on deadline seems very rare to me, and precious. (I realize this contradicts the career choices I listed above.)

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
This isn’t exactly right, but the two films that spring to mind from last summer, when I had some time to watch films for leisure, were Jane Gillooly’s Suitcase of Love and Shame and Deborah Stratman’s In Order Not To Be Here. As for the last book, Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins.

20 - What are you currently working on?
A paper about how we feel infrastructure for a few upcoming conferences and workshops. Also, learning to be less impatient.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sennah Yee, How Do I Look?




PROM

I bought us pearl earrings for $5 from an elderly vendor in Chinatown. I told him how neither of us had ever owned anything pearl before. He knew they were fake, and so did I, and so did you, but it didn’t matter. Later, you spilled Smirnoff all over the gown you borrowed from your sister. I tried not to stare at the lace and sequins of your bra seeping through the soaked fabric. Having eyes only for you is just a glamorous way of saying that I am blind.

Following the release of two poetry chapbooks through American chapbook publisher Dancing Girl Press – THE AQUARIUM (2014) and THE GL.A.DE (2017) – Toronto poet Sennah Yee’s first full-length collection is How Do I Look? (Montreal QC: Metatron Press, 2017). How Do I Look? is a collection of short, self-contained, observational prose-poems, a number of which reference a variety of degrees of sexual and racial violence, from microagressions and offhanded comments to far, far worse, and the ways in which women are required to constantly be on guard. The short poem “MEDUSA,” for example, that opens the collection, reads:

Beauty, power, and confidence without gaze. Then, a man holds up a mirror and kills her. There is nothing mythical about that.

Utilizing a series of pop culture references, including an array of film titles as poem titles, the poems in Yee’s How Do I Look? are smart, wonderfully playful, precise and straightforward, all the while shining a spotlight on some rather dark corners of how people insist on treating each other. “I want to cry when locals ask me where I’m from,” she writes, in the poem “SIEM REAP,” composing out a short tourist scene from Angkor Wat, “because I know they are trying to bring me closer, not push me away.” In a 2016 interview over at Speaking of Marvels, she writes:

My writing’s evolved closer to creative non-fiction, focusing on racism and sexism. I used to be too shy to write about myself. Now I see value in narrativizing life events, even and perhaps especially the ones that make me feel weak and/ or ugly. Being openly vulnerable can feel very brave and strong. I feel like my writing’s become a more accurate reflection of my identity. I was terrified at first to share my short piece for Poor Claudia’s 10 Sources series about micro-aggressions and anxieties as a Chinese-Canadian woman, but the response was touching and validating. It made me want to write pieces that are more powerful and political in their honesty and anger. I want my writing to wake people up.

The poems in this collection feel intensely personal, and exist as a combination of lyric essay, observational moment and condenced scene-study, and her writing very much has the potential to do something absolutely incredible. I want to see where else she goes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Charles Rafferty

Charles Rafferty's twelfth collection of poems is The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. His stories have appeared in The Southern Review and Per Contra, and his story collection is called Saturday Night at Magellan's. He has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

My earliest work favored rhymed and metered poetry, and my current work is all prose poetry. I used to take great pleasure in resolving a formal constraint placed on the poem. It's the problem of finding a rhyme for "bazooka" and making it seem natural and inevitable. I'm enjoying the comparative freedoms of the prose poem. I feel like they've given me permission to be wild.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I came to poetry in high school. The Milton and Keats we were reading left me cold, but when I was 15 I got interested in the Doors' music, which led me to read Morrison's biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, which name-dropped all the poets I would have an early interest in (Rimbaud, Ginsberg, etc.), which led me to Ginsberg's poem "Howl," which I found in my older brother's Intro to Literature textbook when he went back to college. The hook was set at that moment.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
Everything depends. Some poems are done in 2 weeks; others take 10 years. If I had to guess, I'd say I average about 20 drafts to finish a poem.

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
I confess I don't put a lot of effort into the organization of my poetry books. Yes, I want all the poems to be strong, and I generally pick poems that have a similarity of subject matter, narrator, tone, etc. However, I don't care all that much. When I read a book of poetry, I never read it from start to finish. I open it up at random and start there. Usually the poem I start with is short. Or I'll read the first and last poems of the collection, reasoning that this is where the good stuff would naturally reside. There is only a small percentage of poetry books where the order of the poems is actually important. In most cases, you could order them randomly, and I'd be just as happy.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

I enjoy doing readings, but it's time away from family and routines. And of course, if I'm giving a reading, I'm not working on my writing projects, so I'm wary. As long as the readings don't disturb the Jenga tower that is my life, I'm happy to give them.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I've never even thought about this. I'm certainly not partial to any flavor of poetry as a reader. The only reason I'm writing prose poetry exclusively right now is that I haven't exhausted my interest yet. As soon as I start to get bored with them, I'll move on to something else.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Poets have no role in the larger culture. Poets in America are fourth magnitude stars, and everybody's night vision has been ruined by cop shows and football.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I find it gratifying when it happens. Too often, the editor merely accepts the work for publication, rather than helping to shape it.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Read everything. Write every day – even if it's just a half-hour. Keep everything in the mail.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to short fiction)? What do you see as the appeal?

It's easy for me to shift between the genres now, but I held off even attempting to write fiction until I was 45. I was a coward.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
My goal is to write every day, no matter what. I have a family and work three jobs, so I don't have the luxury of a regular writing pattern. But I'm good at exploiting whatever time makes itself available – commuting by train, waiting in the lobby during my daughter's dance lesson, waiting at the doctor's office, waiting for the spin cycle to finish on the washing machine. I can usually fit in at least an hour of writing per day.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
Yeah, I'm very suspicious of the word "inspiration." I always have many works in progress, so it's almost unheard of to have writer's block. If the novel gets tired, I work on my poems. If the poems are going nowhere, I'll revise a story. Etc. If I'm really not interested in pushing a pen across the page, then I'll read – not to get inspiration, but to see how someone else confronted and resolved the same problems I'm working on. If even that's a dead end, I'll go for a walk in the woods. In fact, going into the woods is always helpful. I don't wait for writer's block to occur before entering.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Piles of autumn leaves in the yard.

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Sure. I would say everything. I aspire to be as promiscuous as possible when it comes to influences.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
I'm always reading. Because I teach, some of that reading is re-reading the poems and stories I teach. Beyond that, I just want to read whatever I can fit into my schedule. My favorite things to come across are works that I myself could not have imagined.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
I'd like to publish a novel. I've got one that I just finished, but I'm still in that stage where I'm not positive it's ready. I can't think of anything else to change, but it still hasn't been picked up by an agent or publisher.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
The writer part stays no matter what, but I've also been a teacher and an editor. If I thought I could swing it, I'd become a mailman (the walking around kind) or a forest ranger.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
Well, my first real aspiration was to be a bass player in a rock band. But my bass playing stopped improving at a certain point. Except for the first 6 or 7 years, my writing was always better than my bass playing.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
Amy Hempel's Collected Stories. I don't see a lot of movies, and it's been a while since I saw one that was "great." Let's say The Graduate as a safe move.

20 - What are you currently working on?

A novel called "Moscodelphia." A short story collection called "The Blue Piano." A collection of aphorisms called "Oddments." A new, as-yet-untitled collection of prose poems.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

Monday, October 16, 2017

rob mclennan reads in Kingston, October 24 : Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre 40th Anniversary

not that I've been doing a ton of readings lately, but I am reading in Kingston next week as part of the Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre 40th Anniversary.

I can't even remember the first time I read there, but most likely in the 1990s, thereabouts, and all thanks to Kingston poet and organizer extraordinaire Eric Folsom. You should totally come out! If you are able,


Poetry Evening with an Open Mic

Common Market Café
136 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L 2Y4
http://www.thecommonmarket.ca/
7-9pm on 24 October 2017

On Tuesday, October 24 we are pleased to present an evening of poetry organized by Eric Folsom.

Featured poets will include Elizabeth Greene, rob mclennan and Susan McMaster.

More information is promised soon, via their website: http://www.modernfuel.org/news/835


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trish Salah, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1




Impersonation doesn’t mean what you think. This is the introduction to this book, my introduction, my lyrical sexology. Lyric Sexology. This is one of the things you need to get straight. This is another, you there in your later age, your so-called 21st century: I am not a transsexual. Or an intersexual, or a hermaphrodite. (Hermaphrorditus can write her own damn book.) I am not any of those things you have words for now. You don’t have words for what I am. What I was was this:
I was a dude.
Then I was a chick.
Then I was a dude again.
Hah. You didn’t think we said “dude” or “chick” in what you call ancient Greece, Hellas of the Hellenes, etc. Think again.
Here is what you don’t have words for: What is a seer? What is beyond knowing? How can I write you now, a now impossibly out of joint with your own, knowing you will read this? Knowing you? Or what is a sex in time? Without?
You do not have a word for snakes or gods or sexes. You only think you do.
You do not have a word for the meeting of snake sex god in one word’s divided knowing, a knowing one divided word.

Seven years is what I was as beyond, a beyond, and inside too. So, impersonation doesn’t begin to describe it, but suppose it did. Suppose
I began to describe you. (“Tiresias, impersonated.”)

I’ve long been curious about the work of Kingston poet, fiction writer and critic Trish Salah, a name I first heard during those early 1990s Montreal days of Corey Frost and Colin Christie’s ga press. Salah’s latest release is Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 (Montreal QC: Metonymy Press, 2017), the first Canadian edition of a title originally published in 2014 by New York publisher Roof Books. The author of a previous title – Wanting in Arabic (TSAR, 2002; 2013) – Salah’s Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 suggests the opening salvo of what will continue, at least to a second volume, if not further. There are elements here that read as memoir, something she plays with as she writes through the legendary Greek character Tiresias, and one can make a rather obvious comparison to Anne Carson writing the Ancient Greek figure Griffin in her Autobiography of Red (Knopf, 1998). In Lyric Sexology Vol. 1, Salah composes her own blend of book-length lyric essay and long poem on metamorphosis, gender and expectation, and one that includes references to Ovid, Glee, Ed Wood, Atlantis, high heels, mythologies, National Geographic, Gail Scott’s Heroine and the October Crisis.

Salah’s essay-poem Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 is an ambitious work that combines the lyric with the narrative, writing out poems that wind their individual ways around and through each other; writing out, even beyond gender, the potential elusiveness of identity itself. Through the voice and character of Tiresias, “a blind prophet of Apollo in Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years.” (Wikipedia), a character mentioned in numerous works by Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, and Ovid, Salah is able to explore and articulate an identity that was never fixed, but one that evolved as Tiresias did, and as his/her own situations required. As Salah writes in the poem “Godtears”: “Her break with form was primarily intelligible as wanting the impropriety of your hand / in me, sous la table, the exquisite corpse giving way to hewn simply exercises / (spoonerisms) in French or Greek.” In an interview conducted for CWILA: Canadian Women in the Literary Arts by Morgan M Page/Odofemi, Salah writes:

Viviane Namaste talks about the autobiographical imperative, arguing that when non-trans folks approach trans people, not only are they only interested in hearing our autobiographies, but they feel free to discount everything we might have to say that isn’t about autobiography. And on CBC this morning, Janet Mock remarked that the media’s treatment of trans people hasn’t changed significantly since the early 1950s press coverage of Christine Jorgenson. Mock framed her own memoir and media interventions as attempts to push back against the narrowness and othering that has come of treating trans people as if we are solely defined by our transness (as opposed to other aspects of our identities, histories, experience, expertise and interests), and also as if we are curiosities to be known about as opposed to being people one might engage with.  This relates to a point Julia Serano and Talia Bettcher make, that cis folks feel entitled to especially scrutinize and doubt trans folks’ self representations, positioning us paradigmatically as imposters or deceivers. In autobiography we appear as singular beings, at best as exceptional individuals who have triumphed over adversity to actualize ourselves, but more often as curiosities, outliers among humankind, who confirm the normalcy of the non-trans reader.

All that said, yes, it is a problem that there has not been either a critical apparatus or a broader public for our creative work, and that is tied in some ways to Viviane’s critique of the idea that the only or primary reason we might possibly have for writing is to satisfy the curiosity of, and/or educate, a non-trans public.

In a review of the prior edition at Tripwire, Zoe Tuck opens: “Trans women poets: raise your hands if you have written poems about or in the voice of Tiresias? Although I’m not sure if there are enough trans poets AND trans poets who have written Tiresias poems to call them a commonplace, I will cop to having written a few. The figure of Tiresias looms over the search for precedent.” Tuck continues:

The wit masks a real concern that has dogged transgender history and queer history before it: who can we claim, either in the past, or across cultural boundaries, as being  one of us? Put another way: is there a universal category of gender?

Through writing a whole volume through and around Tiresias, Salah is able to write out beyond the purely physical, and beyond the initial, and somewhat expected, poems that Tuck suggests have already been composed; by composing nearly two hundred pages of this first volume of Lyric Sexology, Salah manages to write through Tiresias, as well as utilize the legendary Greek figure, as a way to explore the very nature of fluidity, concerning gender, sexuality and the core root of self, bringing in all the cultural expectation, uncertainty and complications that come along with such shifting.

The simplest equations are subtraction.
A “dog never loses its savour.” Arab slavers.

Fawn smear from the mouth, eye sockets
Tell me about your history, the one to come. (“Tiresias as Cuir (on the run)”)