Peach Picks: What to Read This Week
Yesterday at Peach we published four video poems by Ryann Slauson, an interdisciplinary artist living in Brooklyn. These pieces are delightful and beguiling, with a cool voice and startling imagery that won’t let you off easy. “That kid’s shirt / is on backwards,” Slauson writes. “Do his parents / even look at him?” There is, however, something grounding about Slauson’s glittery words, especially when they’re superimposed onto the video’s chaotic repurposed clips of anime cartoons and accompanied by an avant-garde post-rock score. The effect is lasting at the very least.
Last week we published two poems by Akirah Williams, a very talented teenage writer from Northern California. One of the poems, entitled “idle,” is a heavy verse imbued with a playful musicality that stands in stark contrast to the poem’s raw emotional spirit. An atmosphere of unease and struggle dominates Williams’s lines, culminating at the final lines: “empty and useless like my mother’s forehead kisses that ghosted over my skin or that puppet pull of the lips / when i would tell myself / let the m see you genuine.”
In case you missed it, in late February groups of witches known as the Yerbamala Collective gathered nationwide to cast spells cursing Donald Trump and fascism at large. If you, like many at first, aren’t sure whether chants and spells have any power in affecting political change, consider not only the longstanding relationship between witchcraft and the oppressed — in feudal times, peasants wrote and performed hexes to quietly protest their tyrannical lords — but also consider the force of a good poem: to transfix, and later, to transform. Inherent in art is magic, and inherent in witchcraft is reclamation and resistance.
Enter RE Katz, a local writer and visual artist, and current Artist-in-Residence at local arts collective Dreamland, where they recently showed BOYWITCH CODEX: Hypertexts by RE Katz. The installation was accompanied by an opening night of musical performances and spells, but here’s the thing: Katz wasn’t the only one chanting them. The hypertexts were installed as interactive stations and art objects throughout the many corners of the venue. To give you an idea of just one, my favorite was the station in the bathroom, where you were instructed to read a poem sharpied onto toilet seat liner, and to afterward flush it while chanting “When I am dead I just want to be popular” for the entire length of the flush. Each station commanded the participation of the viewer on its own unique terms, and as a result, Katz managed to enchant not only the attention of the participant, but a little bit of soul too. In their own words, Katz is saddened “by how language is used to manipulate people,” and the ease with which manipulative language can now circulate due to the digital age. A beautiful response, then, to offer and celebrate their own cast of magic.
Katz has forthcoming work at Peach, and will be one of the featured readers at our upcoming Spring EPISODE on April 2 at Sugar City.
“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 Rachelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.