LAUREL UZIELL – T
T is a long poem in multiple parts and its author's second book. “The two genders are YES and NO, so you stutter or else shut up forever”. From the Afterword:
Between 2017-2018 I was involved in a trial with a group of TERFs after a scuffle emerged during a counter protest against a ‘debate’ about sex-based rights in light of proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act which would have made trans people’s lives marginally easier. Luckily I wasn’t actually in the dock, but I appeared to give evidence, and for everyone involved it was a humiliating ordeal as we were doxxed, harrassed online and in real life, while the relentless media campaign which ensued took a toll on the entire trans community. The caricaturesque reduction of a complex interrelation of political positions, epistemologies, traumas and personal grievances into two ‘sides’ ultimately worked to further the persecution of trans people, but nevertheless highlighted a social logic on whose terms the so called debate was forced to appear: sex was pitted against gender (or more revealingly ‘gender identity’), objective biology against subjective ‘self-identification’, nature against culture, or perhaps, first nature against second nature.
What does a poet say (what does anyone say), when placed on the stand, how answer the binary logics forced like a cage in the legally-grounded violence which splittingly interrogates solidarity, the splitting invocation of law? In answer, T spreads across the page as if desperately finding a form for speech acts forced into a garrotted tick-box, a witness stand, video evidence, Nature’s originary disguise as history or vice versa, wrapped inside ‘common sense’ as a pronominal shroud, in the policing of body, speech, and every fungible fibre of being. The author writes: “I want the whole text to be a kind of horrific inorganic body with awkward parts, both to replay at the level of form some of the critiques of organicist thinking with reference to nature that the poem tries to articulate, and also, more glibly, to be somewhat like a trans body, awkwardly fitting together with some parts undercutting others”. An extended enquiry into Materialism and its material (fleshed) stakes, driven through the heart and to the heart of things, T sees lyric poem shudder to line-broken essay to fragment of play to citational drop; in tight compression sprawling, a poem whose argument is necessary and necessarily incomplete, poetry can do thinking, this thinking we do outside and within it, sprung trap, open and closing door.
A5, 56pp, saddle-stitch.