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Catherine Chen

(c) Aslan Chalom

Productivity by another name is the automation of authenticity: will you trust her to respond with accuracy? I’m digressing. A drowning. Begrudged by linear circuitry, misplaced modifiers. The unnecessary flash of an ellipse. Ampersand as personality: the rise & fall of Georges Bataille’s neurotic cat // anti-colonial praxis: Hussein Chalayan two-in-one looks. Asked for the weather, she replies in earnest, “I don’t know that song.” The magnitude of an answer, reduced to figures lost in translation. Natural language processes what could be undermined and yet still remain actionable. Much like much, actionable is one of those words that doesn’t seem real when I consider its etymology. Tasting every sumptuous word in our mouth. Spitting out: textures. Swishing around, capturing hints of mint, lemon, and ricotta. Notes of a deranged maniac or a hysterical woman. In this way I am working on the world’s first English-to-Machine Dictionary. When I told you what I intended to accomplish over the course of our stay in Amsterdam, you laughed. I may have joined in. I was reading essays about the loss of archival memory in the cloud and the places where art can belong and the uses of poetry and I had deeply fanciful ideas about the role of technology in art. Isn’t that still true: I’m processing the blow of having lost myself in the vision of someone else’s ideal woman. I’m processing my body for a crimson cage, Kate Upton’s winsome body, a Caravaggio print, sestina, Homeric epics, two goats and a head of cabbage, fluorescent streetlights, sport, seven minutes of underwater breathing, old times’ sake, pleasure, blood, loud nasal breathing, wholesome modes of play, for the world against the world in spite of the world towards the world with the world.

(First published by Glittermob)

Catherine Chen is a poet and performer. They are the author of the chapbook Manifesto, or: Hysteria (Big Lucks) and art book Other Monsters of Love (Container), both forthcoming in 2019. Their writing has appeared in Slate, The Rumpus, Apogee, Hobart, and Nat. Brut, among others. A 2019 Poets House Fellow, their work has been supported by Lambda Literary, Sundress Academy for the Arts, Millay Colony, and Art Farm.

See full list of 2019 Emerging Poets Fellows