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At the very beginning of cadences, j/j hastain announces that rather than the conventional model of opposing artifice to the body and the natural, artifice will very much interact with the body, the “pungent colony.” That is not to say that it’s a peaceful relation. In the very same first poem, hastain demands that the reader/lover burn their body when they die, except for the genitals and mouth, which we are to give to other lovers, like both works of art and art’s mediums. Violence against the body is a persistent motif in this collection; violence pierces and punctures the body, but not for the sake of damaging it, as much as to open it up to a “trans” state, a “spasming” aesthetic space where “black sand and pearls” are “being poured into one another.” The book takes us into an increasingly (wonderfully) Elizabethan idea of poetry: “I once covered you with dried rose heads and strips of words.” The spasming “tryst”, the art of these poems spasms back and forth in time as well as gender and love: “oh luminous anarchies!”
Words that have never been next to each other are next to each other now, lines that gut, a swarm of pink moths on your eyeskin. This book is a garden of “blood blooms” that will stop your breath. When hastain writes “We must create different versions of us to sound out the wounds on,” you’ll do so willingly. cadences is a dissection of love and space and sex that will teach you the new gender-language while pulling your chest open.
Sarah Rose Etter
“Making the body as the body is making”—this is the major project of cadences. Body transitivity is an ever-shifting locus in this work of thrilling prosody. Body ideation as “we eroticize our own gists”: body iterations, body play, body enthralling and body motility. The outcome is endless, there is no culmination. j/j’s work places the participant in a biome where revelatory becoming is a forever.
Cadences, j/j hastain’s mesmerizing and daring new book, sings of the struggle to be visibly indecipherable yet decidedly human, on the move, metaphorical, “in transit,” or “as transits.” Human bodies move and are moved, contra static attempts at pronunciation or assignment, contra binarisms and racializations, against these processes which might end up the only categorically binding constant that can form us into a “we” in the first place. Across, underneath, away from and through existing social constraint, groans, gurgles, and other timbres and tonalities are stuttering forth.
Does the song of acknowledging the multifoliate human form of cadences’ lovers—their embodied and nurtured variousness and multiplicity—come with them from the “new eden” that grew around their love? How do we exist in a world outside normative signs of value? Can we make such a world at all past these importantly complex pages? In opening this vulnerable, human, desiring book of sacred song we are invited to find out. Invited to do so as an act of struggle, as experiment in sound and embodiment, as a “sojourn” with the real and urgent stakes of lives that love under siege, as a ritual archeology of the residue of bodies that question, want, and need—together. With its energetic activisms and with all its refusals-as-prosodic movements towards insurrection—with that “I” “saying a bell that groans instead of rings”—here, at cadences, is where future social-economic histories have room to imply themselves. Here is where the subaltern engagements of our species, multiple loves and entanglements, multiple ((de)gendered) forms moving across the furniture of the press, multiple and usually unacknowledged or oppressed ways of being in the world turn visible as having been performed.
j/j hastain’s cadences is a cosmogony beyond biologies and historicized inheritance. Xir attention to “speech-verge” whispers of hybrid contexts, communicating new cadences of tongue and tone as a kind of kink. In the “ulterior” cellular sound there is a push for a “new eden” that opens harmonies to harmonics. It is “matriarchal-kingly,” storied by “queer saints” and a “trans eucharist” (the becoming versions of body.) There is “no eve and no adam,” only lovers in search of a consecrated crossing, committed to the somatic and the semantic. In hastain’s introduction, xe writes “a book can be an apparition’s most honest memoir.” cadences in its “slant-synthesis” documents the act of becoming visible.
j/j hastain lives in Colorado, USA with xir beloved. j/j is the author of numerous cross-genre works previously published and forthcoming (a few of which are): prurient anarchic omnibus (Spuyten Duyvil), long past the presence of common (Say it with Stones), a womb-shaped wormhole (BlazeVox), treOOA(with Eileen Tabios/ Marsh Hawk Press). j/j’s writing has appeared in numerous journals including Trickhouse, Vlak, Big Bridge, The Offending Adam, Dear Sir, Eccolinguistics, Housfire, EOAGH, Aufgabe, Queerocracy Art, Masculine Femininities, Caketrain, Plath Profiles, Bombay Gin. j/j is currently in the process of curating an Anthology of Queer Nudes (Knives Spoons and Forks Press, 2013) and has helped curate (and participated in) two major Trans anthologies. j/j is an Elective Affinities participant, a member of Dusie kollektiv, writes for Lit Pub and is a regular contributor to Sous Les Paves. j/j currently writes creative reviews for Big Other, Jacket2, Horse Less Press, PANK and Emprise Review. j/j’s work appeared in a Queer-focused show at the Leslie-Lohman Annex in New York. j/j’s books have been finalists in the Kelsey Street, Grey Book Press, Grace Notes Books, Switchback, Omnidawn, DIAGRAM and Ahsahta book and essay competitions. j/j’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Publishers Triangle. j/j’s manuscript extant shamanisms won the Pavement Saw poetry award. j/j’s manuscript dear secondary umbilical, won second place in the Mad Hatter’s Wild and Wyrd Poetry Contest. In 2011 j/j’s book we in my Trans was nominated for the Stonewall Book Award and j/j’s book prurient anarchic omnibus was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.