Beast Feast (cover)
Cody-Rose Clevidence author photo
  • Series: 64
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-934103-53-1
  • ISBN-10: 1-934103-53-5
  • Pages: 112
  • Size: 6.75 x 9.25 x .25 in
  • Price: $18.00

Beast Feast

Cody-Rose Clevidence

In a deconstruction not only of the idea of “Nature” but of language as well, Cody-Rose Clevidence has created in Beast Feast a total-immersion experience of what William James called the “blooming, buzzing confusion” of being in the world. This is an attack on the Emersonian myth(ide)ologies of peaceful nature, moralism, and the state as well as a reminder of the complicated histories of cruelty and commodity that haunt the American forests. Clevidence celebrates the bodies of beasts, human and non-, and all the weirdness of the real and constructed world while wondering where a safe place might be found for them.

“Do the beasts feast? Or do we feast on the beasts? To answer either or both questions is to descend into an underworld of decaying, regenerating language, whose prophetic argument about the natural world augurs etymologies of corroded animalia and a bibliomancy of theriophagic power. When Elizabeth Sewell proposed in The Orphic Voice that grammar is ‘an essentially mythological, active field, which still awaits its due inquiry,’ could she have been anticipating Cody-Rose Clevidence’s startling Beast Feast? Here is secret Orphic power, revealed and scrambled, bedecked with joules, singing daggered hymns.” —Peter O’Leary

“With Beast Feast, Cody-Rose Clevidence joins a phalanx of 21st-century poets who are rethinking the human occupation of our Planet from that zero-point of Western lyric function: the Garden. This poetry is wild, embroidered, helical, fitful, torn, ripe, spiky. Beast Feast makes us remember that we cannot dwell in this Garden without our Arsenal, Language, even as it pushes toward some syntax which will denature human language into a nonweaponized state.” —Joyelle McSweeney

“Hegel asserts that the animal voice signals but does not signify. Wrong again, bitch. Through a process of re-wilding, Beast Feast returns us to the lingual theater of the Real Animal while nevertheless articulating ‘human’ concerns. The beast itself, unnamed and unspecified (and ALIVE), retains its vital essence, devouring Hegel and anything else dumb enough to enter its zone. Which is everywhere. Here nature surpasses itself by its own means: death, annihilation, eating, subsuming, excreting. An ode to excess that masticates the inscribed and the liminal (gender, race, capital, the idealized environment); a feral politics indeed. The new cosmophagist anthem.” —C. Violet Eaton

[hammer/tulip]

hammer, tulip, aspirate you slut you wretch you lovely.

you voiceless glottal fricative, you beauty.

.

flesh this wild thing out.  is syntactically

atrocious— I multiply to eyes a system in which

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a panorama or else.  diagram me a convulsive body

you field of trampled, you derelict amoral as a meadow.

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gimme many petals.  dire oxen pull to thrust out.

satin faggot is love so monotone anyone can hum it?

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can anyone traipse as much as us?

.

++++

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is an arsenal enough to free an orchard?  swampthing,

inebriate.  I’ll arm a garden.  we can all live there.

.

++++

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there have always been a glitch like this

you absolute & urgent aria you angel you slag.

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polychromatic multiplication along the ozone folds.

polyhedra in the interstice.  diamond.  rough cut

.

carved from a formal neoclassical marble.  you tease you tempest

you pansy-blooded plethora on whose stalk grows polymorphic fruit,

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anathema to “form”.

.

++++

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listen, dimwit.  I’m an animal

with pretty much no short term memory

& a penchant for shiny things.

.

++++

.

idyll my dandy, petunia, massacre. carniferous

polyglottal pulch. what harm is done to a body.

.

lewd slew & throng is a messy genitalia be my reductio ad infinitum

hussy of formless furrow the acreage you ugly unseeded desire spit to the wind &

.

what palace — forest— Tend.

.

.

Copyright © 2014 by Cody-Rose Clevidence

“Clevidence’s big first collection is certainly a strange beast: tough-to-read text blocks of many shapes and sizes, Cummingsesque typographical games (‘o0o0O000O))))’), lush blocks of descriptive prose, slices of language from the life sciences (‘foraged glycogen’), political economy (‘each flower represents a different global market’), phenomenology, potential sex talk, quotations from philosopher Giorgio Agamben, and propulsive pentameter monostichs (‘the hoofed red-meat stands steaming in the field’) all come together. The total impression is one of a poet who takes nothing for granted, who wants to incorporate every kind of language, every instinct, and every power that positions us—or shoves us out of position—in an all-too-complicated modern world.
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“Clevidence, an Iowa Writers Workshop graduate who now lives in a cabin in Arkansas, wants to show both how thickly the discourse around us (about bodies, about money and gender, about space and time) holds us in its deadening, deafening grip, and how strongly and strangely and beautifully the body that Clevidence imagines can try to get free. ‘[W]hat limp or bare-backed bare-boned regalia is a throwback to a whip, crown, death-church,’ the poet asks, ‘is the flash flood a call to arms against an ocean?’ Clevidence (who goes by the pronoun ‘they’) draws on recent sexually explicit eco-poetry as well as on Shakespeare and on the DC Comics character Swamp Thing, who may be the key to the whole volume.

“Clevidence’s strangest pages have no obvious precedent: they are columns of almost unreadable manifesto, arranged like characters on ancient scrolls, without word breaks, so that we have to slow waaaay down, and to disregard non-alphanumeric detritus, in order to even begin to read them. Only this kind of weird self-conscious process, Clevidence suggests, can help us question our deepest bourgeois assumptions and short-circuit our inner censoriousness. One of the columnar poems depicts ‘thef/ ORESTickT/ Hick::WOLF/ Fhunt{edF/ OX{}’ among ‘swalL/OW.asPs.’ We have to work to visualize such things, and that’s part of the point. Some pages look like screen captures, or like server errors—the language of computer programming (‘VERB/ ATIM PURL... & BUILT’) zaps and muscles its way amid the language of poems. ‘Queerne/ssnecessi/ tatesarad/ icalizedl/ anguage,’ Clevidence also declares, and for most of their volume, that radical language arrives. Readers who like a challenge should be ready to dig in.” Stephen Burt in Publishers Weekly (feature review)

 

BEAST FEAST is the ecopoetics book I've been pining for but have sought in vain until now. Many other postmodern pastorals have a politics, a critique of gender, a critique of "nature" and the "natural," use Language-poetics-inspired ecological mimesis, or depart from an anthropocentric phenomenology, but rarely all five of these elements. Beast Feast is sensuously immersed in "nature," but this nature is deeply self-aware, political, queered, and rhizomically ecological in subject matter. Cody-Rose Clevidence warns the reader to "BE PREAPRED FOR MANY FORMS," and the book at large pushes language into new forms using a vast toolkit of Language poetics in order to alter-naturalize human phenomenological experience, to reconceive and re-sensualize what a human in "nature" might look like through an intervention of radical poetics. The incredible success of BEAST FEAST is in its use of Language poetics for mimesis: mimesis not only of sounds in nature for example, but of ecological processes, even of genetic processes. Rife with neologisms and words pulled apart into their basic lexical elements in order to maximize their potential connectivity, Clevidence understands that a new conception of "nature" will require fundamental transformations to the language through which we conceptualize that nature.” —from the review by Garin Hay in SPD's Best of 2015 Staff Picks (scroll down for the full review)

Cody-Rose Clevidence author photoMy first week of the Iowa Writers Workshop, Roman White, who I didn’t know at all, told me to read Ronald Johnson. I have no idea how I ended up there without having read ARK already—like, why didn’t I study geology, or linguistics, or physics, or neuroscience, or philosophy, or boat building, or mycology, or any kind of biology, or any ology at all, or blacksmithing, all of which I have always been a whole lot more interested in than poetry, until I read ARK. I can’t name one poet I actually liked before then except Ginsberg, Whitman, and Rilke as a dismal queer teen. I didn’t know how or where to look. In succession I have since fallen in love with the language and structures of some other poets, among them Kamau Brathwaite, Hopkins, Hopkins, Hopkins, Dickinson and H.D. (and some my-age poets but that would make me blush to say, my starstruck eyes). I owe fealty and legacy to the romantics, to the language poets, to the world, to radical queer and feminist and anarchist thought and action that has constructed in part the interstitial world of ideas I live in. Now I mostly live in a cabin that I built with some friends in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas with my dog, Pearl.

The project for this book involved tearing apart an idea of “the natural” in favor of the unnatural real weirdness of the “natural” (including artificial and imaginary) world, which is I think a necessary project of queerness and of others to whom the existing structures don’t make any sense bodily (that’s all of us). It's also a project of phenomenology in general and a preoccupation with the sensation of being as an unnatural beast in this place. Also just the project of delight in language, and delight in language as a creatural-thing we humans do.  I’m mostly interested in the turning of phrase, in prosody, in the inbuilt structure that conveys the structure, the “instress, stress,” and also ideas, the created ideas of what it is to be in the world, and how those are structures we are also building with our ideas in the world, which is a real world full of real history and knowledge and sensations and real things like rocks and commodities and trees and real imaginary things like laws and genders and selves.  To embody a language in awe of nature and fervent in its frenzy is a legacy from the romantics, and to have a language that can both be the hypothesis and the experiment (and maybe complete its own answer) is a legacy from the language poets, and I’m grateful that the way is plowed, so I (we) can, now, build in (an) open field.