Category: The Believer

historical bed sores

Holly Pester in The Believer
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One of three new poems by Holly Pester, selected by Sophie Robinson for The Believer:

some women cup their breasts and women without breasts chirp at the thought

women hold their babies up to the light and the women without babies weep at the thought

women with tears in their eyes with gas in their mouth can pose with tigers in the bath

tigerless women check the number of breasts their childless heads their breastless chests 

their sore bone rectangular, triangular 

armless kids climbed inside a clock 

the women with no breasts with red gruesome hair are kin 

prepare bowls of hot gum

in our bellies

we have clowns and bugs 

we have mock breasts and bellies like bowls of hot gum

frig the dried blue men 

a soup for my sister a new earhole where her wound is a light 

the women without babies sing into cat bellies

we hunt for sliced up income 

for mamma’s dark red underwear 

strong girls breathing in rivers 

drinking out of each other   speaking out of each other’s backs 

sing for our empty friend 

some river bellies some ocean some singular bump

health custard 

bomb shoes 

who killed our cave? who let out our weal?

a cave for my baby 

a rubber ball full of honey

without babies we chirp into caves into everybody’s cave

drinking a pool of tomato pips and the last strings of egg

delicious forever 

find a cave for my injured friend

Chris Kraus on Kathy Acker

In The Believer
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If anyone has the credentials to write (well) about Kathy Acker, it’s Chris Kraus, taking the publication of I’m Very Into You as a starting point for a wider discussion of Acker’s life and work:

I’m Very Into You is a collection that includes 103 pages of emails that Acker and Ken Wark exchanged over seventeen days at the dawn of the internet era. Acker met Wark in Sydney during the summer of 1995, and the two had a brief but intense affair before she returned home to San Francisco. Wark, now a professor at the New School for Social Research and a renowned media theorist, was thirty-four when he met Acker (she was forty-eight). At the time, Wark was part of a Melbourne-based post-Marxist anarchist group that produced the political and cultural journal Arena. He had just published his first book, Virtual Geography, about the emergence of global media space and the transmission of world events as media spectacles. He was enjoying a precocious career as a national media commentator in Australia and advising government ministers on media access, while still living a kind of post-student life among artists and activists. He had boyfriends and girlfriends, often concurrently, and wondered about his identity, queerness and straightness, performance, butch/femme-ness, masculinity. Of course he’d read Acker. He’d been following her work since the ’80s.

The search for connection through sex is at the forefront of all of Acker’s writing. She was single for most of her life (and writing always from within her life, and around and beyond it). As passages from her novels show, on-tour flirtations and hookups and romances weren’t uncommon. While touring in the summer of 1995, something more compelling than a mere fling developed between her and Wark. His first email begins as a gracious note sent to a casual lover. He’d driven to work the next day in a daze; he’d enjoyed spending time with her and was starting to read the William S. Burroughs novel she’d talked about. But as he continues, he opens the door to something more complicated: “There are no words,” he writes. “I just want to say there are no words.… Bear with me. I’ll have something to say for myself sometime soon. When I remember who I thought I was in the first place. Even if I’ve been displaced a little from wherever that was.” She responds, delighted: through the exhaustion and jet lag of travel, “your message is changing the day… all the time there (in Sydney) that I didn’t know what was going on… what becomes/became present was how easy it is to be with you. Like: you are the one I want/wanted to talk to.”

In London, at the height of her fame, Acker had been involved in an increasingly maddening long-distance BDSM romance with a married journalist referred to as “the German” and “the reporter” in her 1990 novel, In Memoriam to Identity. “Being with him made me remember that I’ve always looked for my childhood,” she’d write to Wark. Still, his control of her, which began as sexual play, became increasingly total as he suspended contact for weeks and cut short their meetings. What began as a fulfilling and sexy relationship between her “bratty sub” and his “strict Dominant” evolved into a draining, old-fashioned affair between a distant and married straight man and his long-suffering mistress. As she’d write at the height of her correspondence with Wark, fearing their friendship might take a turn in that direction: “So. Regarding het shit. These games. To me, top/bottom is just stuff that happens in bed. Who fistfucks whom. Outside the bed, I do my work and you do yours. I fucking hate power games outside the bed and have no interest in playing them.”

 

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