Thursday, January 10, 2019

Khashayar Mohammadi reviews Travis Sharp's Sinister Queer Agenda (2018) online at knife | fork | book

Khashayar Mohammadi was good enough to provide a first review of Travis Sharp's Sinister Queer Agenda (2018) over at the knife | fork | book site. Thanks so much! You can see the original review here. And of course, copies of Travis' chapbook are still very much available.
“The curve of the sentence.”

I dream so much f body
I run out of small strips of paper

In a way I feel like I’ve known Travis Sharp for years. I ingest his new chapbook Sinister Queer Agenda and I sense a deep connection to his words, the same way I feel when I read Rimbaud or Mahmoud Darwish: a cycle of self-alienation, self-discovery and self-actualization rotating in an existential yin-yang. Delving deep into his consciousness, Sharp destabilizes the ego and offers me the fragments to digest. With each passing page he offers more and more of himself.

I poke the body to feel
Body feels

Sharp’s “I” is an experiment in consciousness, a continuous redefinition of the ego; a question about the very nature of “selfness” like Rimbaud’s “’je’ est un autre”. Sharp wallows in the mind-body divide, delves deep into the futility of restrictions imposed on the body and situates this unstable “Self” within the confines of sexual politics, begging the question: Is self created ex-nihilo? Or is its creation contingent on the body?

The ambivalence I feel is a body feeling
I is a body feeling itself
I is aroused
I touches itself
I is always fucking itself into existence

The elusive nature of Sharp’s “I” is confounded on the dilemma that psycho-social politics impose on the body.

I is a sexed interior decorator queering organs
Body refuses to move on
I ask politely repeatedly but receive no answer

That’s where the chapbook begins its brilliant second half, a playful musical written to be performed as uncomfortably close to the audience as possible.

That’s where Sharp’s initial Introspection ends. Sharp stands “Uncomfortably close” to the reader and begins his extrospection:

And the road is connected to tax dollars that I don’t have to pay because I’m poor
And my poor is connected to my parents’ poor
And my parents’ poor is connected to the trailer park
And the trailer park is connected to a memory of when I was a child watching TV

Situating the self within Capitalism neatly ties the chapbook together: being queer in a heteronormative capitalist environment is guaranteed to alienate the queer from their body. Being born into a world driven by profit, their bodies have become unresponsive vessels to the drive to produce and reproduce for the sake of capital. In a way queerness in itself is the biggest rebellion towards capitalism and its ironically sinister agenda that’ll oppose queerness at any cost.

I mean capitalism is a daddy pissing contest amirite
So says the twink tank newsletter:
You can’t take the femboi out of capitalism,
But you can take capitalism’s white cock out of the femboi

From Alienation, to discovery, to actualization and manifestation, Travis Sharp’s Sinister Queer Agenda is a truly masterful work of poetry and philosophy that should not be overlooked. Lines from this book shall echo in my mind for years to come.

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