Joyelle McSweeney

Here’s maybe a surprising claim: I don’t see myself as post-genre! I am very involved in genre. I love genre. I love poems, plays, short stories, performative essays. I love when music or a set of motifs becomes so compelling that it just hauls the reader through a structural forest which the reader gradually begins to recognize is a story, a poem, a play, an argument. I love lagoony lacunae. I love mood and weather, I love mise-en-scene, I love events. I love lyric, and everything I write is lyric. I love to sing, and almost everything I write can be sung or involve singing. I love masks. I love doubles. I love lying. I love epithets. I love exciting events. I love when the trap is laid. I love the snare, and I love the bait. I love affects: longing, disgust, self- disgust, shame, antipathy. Those make the world go round! I love listing. I love bad motives. I love when a structure is badly wired and it shorts out and sends up dazzling sparks and all kinds of fatal events.

So I guess the category I belong in is ‘lyric.’

Why am I not post-genre? Well, as I say, I love genre! When I find myself out of ideas, reading even a very pedantic historical account of any genre (Greek satyr plays—WTF! Michiyuki, a Japanese opera song marking a journey by the protagonists to a suicide spot! Right on!). I had a dream last night in which a current graduate student of mine was writing a haibun-escrache. It shall be you! I love to feel the golden grip of genre like a kind of skull-shaped golden byzantiumy dome and I like to taste the weather that creates and I also like to feel the dome crack and some amazing cranial fluid leak down from the blue sky above. A panther is also staring down from the tromp-l’eoil ceiling like it has something on you.

You should read Hiromi Ito’s Wild Grass on the River Bank, trans. Jeffrey Angles—it’s a landmark long narrative poem which tells the story of some Japanese migrant kids in the desert in California who might also be in Japan, or dead, or Wild Grass on the Riverbank. You should spend a ton of time on Mac Wellman’s website. Everything Dennis Cooper writes is hilariously amazing in the way it performs-while-desecrating what a novel is supposed to even do, and the contrast between the last two books, Marbled Swarm and the gif-novel Zac’s Haunted House, confirms his virtuosic range. We’ve recently published a pamphlet-length selection of essays through Action Books by Argentinian critic and poet Maria Negroni called Dark Museum which is about the Gothic and is so uncompromisingly lyric that you will not have any idea what the hell you are reading and therefore you’ll know it’s vatic poetry.

Learn more about Joyelle McSweeney and Action Books.