Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cody-Rose Clevidence, Beast Feast

exuberant harmonia
a state of nature
a natural State

\ “For the animal is in relation to his circle of food, prey, and other animals of its own kind, and it is so in a way essentially different from the way the stone is related to the earth upon which it lies.  In the circle of the living things characterized as plant or animal we find the peculiar stirring of a motility by which the living being is “stimulated,” i.e., excited to an emerging into a circle of excitability on the basis of which it includes other things in the circle of its stirring.”

/ in the depths of the forest you can hear the low moans & grunts & quickened panting of numbers propagating in the dark. (“A state of nature / a natural State”)

Perhaps a little late to catch what others might already know, I’m fascinated by the concordance of sound, space, language and punctuation in Cody-Rose Clevidence’s seemingly first full-length poetry collection, Beast Feast (Ahsahta Press, 2014). Very much constructed as a book-length engagement with nature, beasts, decay, language and etymology, Beast Feast is moss-thick and lively, animalistic and articulate, filled with a vibrancy and an expansiveness that runs and rushes the length and breath of the entire work. As Clevidence writes in the poem “{THEFT}”: “I is a single decomposure in the intermittent language.” Beast Feast is explosive in form, incredibly playful and serious in heft, displaying both an incredible precision and wild openness in a poetry book that, on first glance, appears to be structurally wild, and even unformed. The author even attempts to prepare the reader through the opening poem, a preface piece, set just before the table of contents, titled “BE PREPARED FOR MANY FORMS.”

Beast for loneliness beast of distance.   coppiced beast is a garden in the forest.   beast of occasional grimace beast of multiplicity beast claims a exigent thrust in all directions.   unlawful beast is the utterance by which a necessary flower groans. (“[BEAST IN SUNLIGHT BEAST OF RELINQUISH”)

There is something reminiscent of California poet Michelle Detorie’s After-Cave (Boise ID: Ahsahta Press, 2014) [see my review of such here], with both titles paired in their ecological concerns, writing critically on the human occupation of the planet, and their adherence to complex, engaged and playful poetic structure. Being that I’m so late finally getting to this book, have I already missed out on what Clevidence has already done next? As part of the online press release at the Ahsahta website, Clevidence’s statement for the book reads:

The project for this book involved tearing apart an idea of “the natural” in favor of the unnatural real weirdness of the “natural” (including artificial and imaginary) world, which is I think a necessary project of queerness and of others to whom the existing structures don’t make any sense bodily (that’s all of us). It’s also a project of phenomenology in general and a preoccupation with the sensation of being as an unnatural beast in this place. Also just the project of delight in language, and delight in language as a creatural-thing we humans do.  I’m mostly interested in the turning of phrase, in prosody, in the inbuilt structure that conveys the structure, the “instress, stress,” and also ideas, the created ideas of what it is to be in the world, and how those are structures we are also building with our ideas in the world, which is a real world full of real history and knowledge and sensations and real things like rocks and commodities and trees and real imaginary things like laws and genders and selves.  To embody a language in awe of nature and fervent in its frenzy is a legacy from the romantics, and to have a language that can both be the hypothesis and the experiment (and maybe complete its own answer) is a legacy from the language poets, and I’m grateful that the way is plowed, so I (we) can, now, build in (an) open field.

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