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manifest press

i have these two sort of major posts in my drafts and i think i’ve been not posting because i feel pressure (from myself) to finish those big deal posts even though i’m not really ready to. i realized today that’s dumb and i should just write about something else, like the pain in my left arm.

which of course is connected to my work. my workings. not because i’m left handed (i’m not), but because i have to hold the composing stick in my left hand and piece by piece with my right i pile on the lead, line it up in a row and it bears down.

for my queer poetics class i had to create for myself a daily poetic practice that i will engage in every day for a month (jan. 28-feb. 28), not with the purpose of having an end product, but with the relation between practice and theory in mind, ie. the end product will be an analysis of the praxis that leads to a theory about my work or the way that i work, my poetics, as opposed to a poem or cycle of poems…although that will also be a result.

every day (in theory) i go to the studio and i write a 3 line poem “in the stick” (the composing stick, the tool used for setting type into forms). the work is focusing on what happens when one uses the body to manifest the workings of the mind. how is the body burdened with this manifestation. originally my plan was to write poems as opposed to stanzas of a larger poem, but as i’ve engaged in this practice i haven’t been able to withhold the impulse to be writing a larger piece. i’m ok with that because i think part of the goal here is to allow the actual engagement with the constraints that i’ve set for myself to inform the work itself. to shape it.

i enter the studio, open my dictionary to a random page and count down the words to the word corresponding with the date and center my lines around that word. on the 3rd, today, i would use the third word down. the lines are also constrained by my decided line length (15 pica, approx. 2.5″), not to mention whatever has already been written. my mood. how my body is responding to its stress.

so much of what i do puts so much strain on my body: my spine is compressed while i sit and type or write which contributes to chronic lower back pain and a recurring sciatica, my wrists are shot from typing/writing/setting type, my shoulders and neck are tense from all of those things and being hunched over a press or drawer of type or cutting out tiny pieces of paper with an xacto knife for hours on end. it is so painful. it compounds so quickly. i feel my body degrading so sharply.

and yet i cannot stop. i am compelled. it seems like the more i hurt the more my mind pushes back with ideas for creation.

but what are the things that sometimes prevent me from entering the studio? physical pain. the lure of a sunny day on the mills lawn. the desire for interpersonal connection i cannot have alone in the studio. the effort required to make the trek from my house in uptown to mills in far east. on a sunday.

it’s always a conflict, though, i can never easily say “no, i won’t go there today,” because regardless of whatever external others may be trying to keep me away my degrading body compels me toward the thing that degrades it.


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