Monday, October 18, 2021

new from above/ground press: W / \ S H: INITIAL CONTACT, by Terri Witek and Amaranth Borsuk

Terri Witek and Amaranth Borsuk

For U U:

For years now I have wondered why some creatures of those who still grace our little spinners speak in more than one voice. Not like warning vs mating shout-outs. Not like the space btwn who cooks for who cooks 4 U. Some crawlers and sailors and fliers (I hesitate to name them, as I’ve been kicked out of several know-circles for proposing this) seem to keep =here’s what sticks painfully even as I spell it into the record tree= a tongue in each wing. But if one ever found these creatures and opened them up (poor things) they’d only see O / \ or another staggered and maybe unreadable trace.

While I’ve nixed weary years trying to prove the ongoingness of these odd biological code bites, a story our mothers tell, always at unpredictable moments, makes a flickering reverb. Double and unequal worlds, they say, one nearly waterless, smokey and fire-hemmed, one glittery and rain-beaten, long before the enfolding of our seeps. Women on these worlds built devices to reach each other, they say, touching our little heads from great heights. Or maybe not devices but “machines.” As our eyelids flutter, the story =start again= tells how 2 women of far and former worlds tried to touch by channeling fire/rain or maybe breath/spit into……into…… this point our nonas trail off, vanish into other tasks. And if, as our small dreams kindle, we try to find these 2 ancestral message trails, we’ll only get more lost. We know this even as children.

Unsure why I am recounting this now, or + - exactly where it will find U U. I comb my own bicode for trails they may have left: the hurt and whistle that marks generations after an event. Their infiltration runs deep, and each of their tears tears a rivulet in my fold-organ. I feel more than I can say, but each day am surer we’re all marked this way by a period of distance and enclosure, burn and berm. These are all I have turned up, though certainly more will arise and spill over in time. Look in U U, too, and see what ripples dripdrp across your double opals, your split tongue. I’ll keep sinking on it and & what comes.


published in Ottawa by above/ground press
October 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy


This poem was written during fire and storm over many years. The first seeds were dropped at Atlantic Center for the Arts during a residency led by Brenda Hillman, whose help and wisdom always encourage us toward the world's strangeness. This chapbook is dedicated to Brenda, who pointed us to birdsong, who showed us other, more possible worlds.

The poems that appear here as “Dear Citizen of No Rain” and “Dear Denizen of Skyshot” first appeared in Snail Trail issue 3 (2021). We are grateful to Woogee Bae, Aya Bram, and Katelyn Oppegard.

Deep thanks to rob mclennan for his tireless support and creation of poetic community.

Terri Witek
is the author of 7 books of poetry: her newest collection is The Rattle Egg (2021). Recent work has been featured in two new international anthologies: JUDITH: Women Making Visual Poetry (2021), and in the WAAVe Global Anthology of women’s asemic writing and visual poetry (forthcoming). Her many collaborations with artists and writers have been featured in performances, museum shows, and gallery exhibitions. Witek teaches Poetry in the Expanded Field in Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas with Brazilian visual artist Cyriaco Lopes, and their work together is represented by The Liminal in Valencia, Spain.  

Amaranth Borsuk is a poet, scholar, and book artist working at the intersection of print and digital media. Her latest volume, The Book (MIT Press, 2018), is a concise introduction to the book’s changing technologies that bridges book history, artists’ books, and electronic literature. She has collaborated on installations, art bookmarklets, interactive works, and poems, and is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection Pomegranate Eater (Kore Press, 2016). Borsuk is Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell, where she also serves as Associate Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics.

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