Peach Picks: Words and Pictures
It’s No Good Everything’s Bad
“sometimes I think what can I possibly say about anxiety and having a body / that my friends haven’t already,” Stephanie Young admits halfway through a whirlwind chapbook about illness, class anxiety, and the gendered indignities of both. And yet, It’s No Good Everything’s Bad (DoubleCross Press, 2018), a winkingly unfaithful “translation” of and meditation on Kirill Medvedev’s It’s No Good (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016), is singular in its specificity, from the abjection of the ER waiting room to the perverse pleasure of revealing the cost of one’s Forever21 dress to wealthy donors at a gala. Despite Young’s affinity for long, prose-like lines and citations, her sharp reflections on neoliberal institutions’ co-optation and negation of personal experience never feel overly academic or essayistic; when she writes, “I’m tired of speeches about storytelling’s special value in this moment,” you’ll nod, grateful to be reading poetry. When the poem builds to a manifesto pitch, imagining disenfranchised patients taking back the hospital in a reverie of stealth and survival, you’ll be even more grateful. This book hurts, but it is also a balm for those of us who have ever been too sick to make it to the protest.
Twitter bots and Darth Maul, apocalyptic Bible b-sides and a sex robot named Roxxxy, language becoming programming and the body becoming machine—this is the world of Philadelphia-based poet Faye Chevalier’s first book, FUTUR.TXT. Driven by the feeling of the body in pain (“what is a body / when the she-machine / resists?” asks the poet in “fr|g|d”), the characters present here flirt with transforming into technology and back again. The poems mix the form and language of a friend’s text message, an academic’s dissertation, and a programmer’s hacking side-hustle to describe a universe of “heart-valves // socially-implanted / in th palms of consumer-hands.” As Chevalier points out, where T. S. Eliot tried to end the world, the poet Juliana Leslie “lives out the fact / tht it is already / over.” If the world is over, the poems in FUTUR.TXT show us how to live in what remains: like Roxxxy the sex robot, in “states of / pre-recorded // robot / bliss.”
Alex Prager’s Silver Lake Drive
When I first opened Prager’s latest photo book, my first thought was that it was filled with images taken during the 1970s. Her style is very related to her being based in LA, and her photos have a cinematic look that seems to pay respect to old Hollywood. Prager creates uncanny scenes through blank stares, uncomfortable crowd shots, and period specific clothing and hairstyles. Using the time period to her advantage, she blurs the line between the real and the surreal. Her photos are perfectly staged and styled to feel as if they could have been grabbed directly from old Hollywood films, and her continued use of direct eye contact and strange angles give all of the photos the same eerie feeling. The women in the photos often look unnervingly fake, as if they had just stepped out of vintage fashion advertisements. Prager’s book captures an incredible collection of photos taken over the past ten years and makes the viewer question the nature of reality in the world that she creates.
“Peach Picks” is a column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo, New York. For inquiries, contact the editors at email@example.com.