Two years ago, Jos Charles published a book of poetry titled feeld.
Here are a couple excerpts:
a tran lik all metall is a series of sirface in folde / wee call manie of thees foldes identitie
gendre is not the tran organe / gendre is yes a hemorage
The spelling deviation — as well as the work’s other components, of course — won Jos praise from the Pulitzer Prize committee: It nominated the collection for its prize in the poetry category.
Here’s what the committee had to say:
“i care so much abot the whord i cant reed.” In feeld, Charles stakes her claim on the language available to speak about trans experience, reckoning with the narratives that have come before by reclaiming the language of the past. In Charles’s electrifying transliteration of English—Chaucerian in affect, but revolutionary in effect—what is old is made new again. “gendre is not the tran organe / gendre is yes a hemorage.” “did u kno not a monthe goes bye / a tran i kno doesnt dye.” The world of feeld is our own, but off-kilter, distinctly queer—making visible what was formerly and forcefully hidden: trauma, liberation, strength, and joy.
As pointed out by The Daily Wire, Poet Fady Jouda loved the book. Fady said Jos “rearranges the alphabet to survive its ferocity against their body.”
feeld is a rare find that will be felt and studied for a long while. To reimagine a language of one’s age is perhaps poetry’s essential task … As Chaucerian English into the digital twenty-first century, feeld is in elite company, and is arguably unheralded in its lyric inventiveness. It’s an archeology of the present (‘wee wer so nashional’) and an anagram of the genetic code that is the body (‘lorde i am 1 / lorde i am 2 / lorde i am infinate’).
If one were to rewrite feeld into standard English, the poems, with their protean registers, would still captivate us. This book masters the interchangeable … Jos Charles rearranges the alphabet to survive its ferocity against their body. Where language is weaponized, feeld is a whistleblower, a reclamation of art’s domain. The solidarity engendered here reaches beyond the specific injustice to its speakers. As feeld illuminates the field on which we incorporate our physical being, it forges an ambitious liberation.
In its review of feeld, PBS announced, “To describe the trans experience, this poet created a new dialect.”
The New Yorker chose feeld as one of the best poetry books of 2018.
And this is how Queery characterized it:
Why we’re proud: Charles combines a deep understanding of poetic traditions with her own personal experience to create works that address gender and identity issues in a unique and moving way. Her second volume of poetry, feeld, creates a language resembling middle English to challenge our limited vocabulary to describe the trans experience.
Jos explained to The American Poetry Review:
I believe in hope. Not as in ‘I hope things get better,’ but in a very basic sense: if things indeed occurred as they occurred, then there was a moment before it, when possibilities existed, latent, before the worst, the unspeakable. That things could be other than they are. By looking at that moment, we can not only see the possible undoing, the seams, but direct ourselves towards the directions before us now.
As a fan of writing, I offer a big congratulations to Jos for such great success. I imagine it’s difficult to get recognized in the world of poetry.
Putting Jos’s work wholly aside, as for the mere misspelling of words, here are a few Facebook poets I’d like to share with you, courtesy of BuzzFeed:Maybe they were aiming for artistic heights. But I don’t think they did it right.
You wanna really scramble the alphabet? Vowels are Bush League.
BEST IN SHOW:
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) December 10, 2018
See 3 more pieces from me:
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