BY CAConrad in Books , Opinion | 21 JUL 23
Featured in
Issue 236

CAConrad’s Poems Breathe Wild Creatures

Works from the poet’s forthcoming book Listen to the Golden Boomerang Return take on a life of their own

BY CAConrad in Books , Opinion | 21 JUL 23

This article appears in the columns section of frieze 236, based on the theme 'After Dark'

My newest book of (Soma)tic poetry rituals and resulting poems is titled Listen to the Golden Boomerang Return and is forthcoming from Wave Books in spring 2024. There are 72 poems in total, a number I like very much. There were 73, but I cannibalized one of them, tearing it to pieces to feed to its brothers and sisters. Mummy has a quota! That is how serious I am about 72. If there are 73 poems, someone has to die and live inside the others.

The following dream happened after I turned the poems over to my publisher: that night, I dreamt of coming home with bags of groceries to find six of the new poems having sex on my bed. They were really going at it, piling on top of one another. When they saw me, they started throwing letters at me. Their angry voices were growls, yips and snarls, as though they could not say the words they were made of, and I remember thinking: ‘Can I teach them to talk?’ They were too angry at me for any conversation about learning new things. One of them galloped to the edge of the bed to better aim the letters at my face. I felt the sting again and again.

Three flowing poems.
Extracts from Listen to the Golden Boomerang Return, 2024. Courtesy: Wave Books

The next day, when I woke, I realized those six poems all contained the cannibalized lines from the poem I’d removed from the manuscript. Were the cannibalized lines forcing the poems to have an orgy to feel reconnected to the whole poem it used to be? Was it a sodomitic magic spell I had interrupted? Also, I was coming home with groceries, meaning I was preparing new meals to have the energy to write new poems now that I had finished the book. What if they were trying to keep themselves alive and were angry at me for abandoning them? These days, the poems have more control over me than I do over them – an arrangement I am happy with; I am their devoted servant and would breastfeed them if I could. We take a few years carving these things out of us; then, we give them away just like that. Is it okay if our poems have orgies in our dreams so they can feel alive? I will say yes, it’s fine; it is glorious! Let them figure it out their way.

My poems are breathing wild creatures. They stand on the bottom of the page, vibrating in the centre of their bodies. If they were to come off the page to live with me, I would work hard to buy a house with many rooms. We would share a large bed; if they learned to jump back on the page when needed, I could take them wherever I went! When my poems become books, I have no control over how other humans feel or think about them, and I’m okay with that so long as I can have my private way of being together with them. If possible, I would like a witness to ensure that there are copies of all my books with me when they put me in the oven to cremate my body. Our ashes need to mix.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 236 with the headline ‘Breathing Wild Creatures’

CAConrad will be at Poetry International festival at the Southbank Centre, London, from 21–23 July

CAConrad is a poet, professor and writer.