Our Kaleidoscopic Poetics



 Amaranth Borsuk and Kate Durbin                                               v.4  Kaleidoscopic Point  
Excess Exhibit grows out of our mutual fascination with visual art, literature, and constructions of the self that culture at large deems excessive. This includes forms of femininity that border on camp and the grotesque, medical and scientific anomalies, language-oriented poetics, high fashion, and decadent food. Intense pleasure is also a central focus as well as effect of the project, as it collapses boundaries between the writer(s) and the reader and overwhelms both the senses and the intellect. The effect might feel like sitting in a glorious baroque cathedral and eating too many pastries while tripping on acid.

In the tradition of both the side-show and the gallery show, the exhibit confronts the reader with not only an abnormal excess of language, but an excess of gorgeous imagery both in the content of the poems and the accompanying drawings by Zach Kleyn, which were made in response to an early draft of the book. The illustration, which appears on facing pages with text, grows and changes, stretching across the gutter as the reader turns the pages, much like a flipbook. Ultimately, the drawings and poems merge, collapsing yet another boundary.

To push our mutation further, we used a poetic structure in which the poems are in flux, merging and dispersing from one page to the next in an ecstatic helix of language. All of the poems in this selection come from those in-between pages where one poem is receding and making room for the next, so that they coexist on the page in conjoined form (the gray text remains from the previous poem, while the black text represents the newly emerging one). The voice is that of an ecstatic crossbreed prophet, a posthumanimal hybrid who gleefully violates boundaries of gender and culture and language, seducing the reader to open his or her own mouth wide and lean in to the page.

This speaker takes shape in the series of author photographs we’ve taken to accompany publications of the poems. In celebration of spring, and in keeping with the content of the selection published in SPECS, this portrait depicts her as born from the primordial cake batter and swaddled in maypole ribbons.

The book in effect is a kind of orgasmic death and rebirth. As such, fusion and beautifully monstrous multiplication come into being, and what we once believed were the limits of art and collaboration itself are collapsed and ecstatically surpassed in limitless recombinant potentiality.