What’s the oldest piece in your chapbook? Or can you name one poem that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?
I am unsure how to qualify old, other than a traditional buy-in to linear time (to which I won’t buy in) so, instead, I would like to speak to what pieces feel like they come from below ground or from some dark inspiration come into form just recently after having been buried for eras.
The piece “A Totem You Can Wear” is a strange little drama, an opera mid-pronunciation, an opera in which the she in the shape, is the shape and the he in the shape is hitched onto her. She lets him stay there. He lives off of her. The notion of feral synthesis is the drive which accompanies the content that exists in all of the pieces within this work, but so, where such synthesis meets sound, there at the bottom of the sea, where the earrings are inter-tangling, getting lost in the dust of the disappearing reef. Something ancient and magical is happening. Maybe it is because such earrings, entangled on reef bodies, will catch the eyes of folks above the surface of the water as they are throwing things into the sea that damage the reef. Maybe it is all to slow down the process of humans throwing things into the sea. Maybe the glints will encourage people to swim in the sea with as much awe and awareness as is possible for them to do in their own bodies should they focus enough.
The “Bear Medicine” pieces (1 and 2) emphasize the emotional aspects of Osha. That sacred herb, the darling. As shamanic humans and bears share a passion for rocking the Osha root out of the ground, we learn things from each other. The shaman is part human part bear.
What’s your chapbook about? How is it similar to or different from your earlier work?
I see this project as very unique from other projects I have worked. It is a solid tree in the middle of culture and there are all types of growths that emerge on that tree, rather than the project being the planting and harvesting of seeds only on the furthest reaches of the brink and perimeter of space.
I feel that lately, I have been drawn to the place where a lyrical lens meets lyrical phrasing. There is a kind of meat to it for me: the turning of sound into flesh as content. In the past, I would say that I have worked to turn sound into flesh by many other trans-maneuvers (including torque) but during that time I had not-yet allowed the currently extant convergence to result in content. To allow this result, in me, was a risk.
After working so diligently on my memoir (prior to the writing of this book) and curving toward sentence-based forms of tell (doing this was totally new to me, as I have been adamantly against being abused by anything even approximating grammar police for years), I feel quite easeful and experience authentic joy in telling these tells in this way.
These tells are gooey and they touch the disturbers, who wait for ignition, for synthesis, even for eros.
Is there a question you wish you would have been asked about your chapbook? How would you answer it?
The question I wish to be asked: “What can the maneuvers which take place within your sketches, make more readily available to me in my own life?”
When, in the feeling of being held into a psychic impasse, the content herein is proof that there is always more to find, even if the body seems to be telling you to just ‘go to sleep’ or ‘give up.’ You can have opened access to mystical proficiencies and possible portals. From here you can keep such portals within your own body, lubed, for future use.
Or: “Wow. I feel very puzzled, intrigued, and troubled by your book. Why do I feel this way?”
Does it remind you of the times in which you did things that could be named by others as shameful, and knowingly done so out of your own will? Does it call you to a sensory comprehension that, when felt in your body put you in a too-close-for-comfort proximity to your own unmet needs? Do you want things you never thought that you were allowed to want? What if your needs could actually be met? What if you demanded, from the very level of the cells in your form, that something with the capacity to give you cosmic stretch marks, appear to you right now out of these very pages on your behalf?
What are you working on now?
I am working on a book of girl musks—a somatic place (genre?) I recently invented. This place has really helped me heal some ducts of energy which have been running in me for years as unavoidable dysphoria. The healing feels like a previously impacted node that is knotting itself into a new node.
Does the materiality ever change? No: the formulation changes. The knot is unknotting and re-knotting itself.
Something that clarifies like mist.
What is your writing practice or process?
My writing practice is an ecstatic practice. Gory pages being cared for. Care coming from care. I work, intentionally, with various figures and entities (from the span of guides to ephemeral lovers to challengers) as a way of initializing, and then initialing and then nourishing the trans song.
Do you have a favorite prompt or revision technique? What is it?
I most trust the revisions that come to me already completed within a dream. In response to them, I simply open my heart and put my hands to work, and make the changes that need be made. Is this a form of obedience? Sure, but a queer one that has nothing to do with a god who misperceives themselves to be some form of the “Big Cheese.”
It is not possible to rape yourself. Therefore proceed dear seeker proceed.
What question would you like to ask the next chapbook author featured at Speaking of Marvels?
To what degree is your work with writing about binding to form? To what degree is it about freeing ________from form? Is there writing, for you, without the work of writing being a form-married requirement? If so, what does (or could) that look like?
Which poem in your chapbook has the most meaningful backstory to you? What’s the backstory?
In “Metaphysical Butter,” the character who is doing possibly-threatening things (with her own menstrual blood) to the police officer who thinks that they are presiding over the scene, really is me. This story is not a metaphor. It is literal: blood falling slowly down the glass, like rain.
Have you found in your writing of poems that they are separate from you—that they have their own lives and desires—or that they are extensions of you without “selves” apart from your own notion of “self” and your imagination?
I don’t know that what I write are poems, but I am positive that the entities created have desires of their own. Their livelihoods depend on my refinement, my capacity to listen. The unforeseen offspring which come as a result of amping myself up and into a flow, are selves: future guides as demanding as any of my other guides or totems are. The key word here is many.
j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j, simply, hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.
j/j hastain is the inventor of The Mystical Sentence Projects and is author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press), The Non-Novels (forthcoming, Spuyten Duyvil) and The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance of Experimental Realisms. j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin, Aufgabe and Tarpaulin Sky.
from “A Totem You Can Wear”
Single earrings fall, penetrate the surface of the sea: cut through froth before falling lower and lower, leaving typical light behind. As they fall the singles brush up against other singles, knocking off paint flecks or small jewels to be absorbed into the abyss. Earrings falling through the sea hope to find their matches. When they become entangled by interlocking designs or by earring hooks getting caught in other earring hooks, they understand that a beloved match is not entanglement with the same earring but with a shameless and shapely, often unexpected, contour.
It is possible to protrude together and it is difference that brings on an equal profusion.