Poetry / Virginia Konchan
:: Nativity Scene ::
after Gauguin Loosened upon a canary divan, within a thatched hut in a village beside the sea, I have a foothold in consciousness, yet am possessed by the idea of none. Thus, ocean breezes. Thus, the molten purr of a kitten at my knee. My wet nurse is near, with my infant in arms. Search not, art critic, for the apotheosis —famine, fire, flood—in this frame. Painting restorationist, the broken object in this painting is not my body, it is me.
:: My Body, a Wunderkammer ::
I am at peace with factoids and the finite world of objects. Cradling the third law of thermodynamics to my cheek, forehead, breast, I sleep like a babe on crack, purged by the fires of truth: love lives on in the Andromeda Galaxy, supernova of neon desire meeting its operational double on the Cartesian Plane, liquidated referents sheltered by the downy fluff of the imaginary, no more.
From the writer
:: Account ::
“Nativity Scene” and “My Body, a Wunderkammer” openly acknowledge the interferential reality in which we have consciousness and write the other. These poems are excerpted from a larger work featuring women artists who have been written or overwritten by male figures. The female speaker of “Nativity Scene,” for example, speaks to an art critic, then a painting restorationist, advising how the depicted scene and its reconstitution, as an image, should be viewed. These poems oppose Western binaries for effect (subject/object, mind/body, scientific discourse/art) and take place at the intersection of the virtual and actual worlds, logos and image, amid tropes of singularity and doubling. I am interested in deliberately constructed and performative interiors, in the legacy of Ashbery, but also in experimental women’s writing, wherein language, subjectivity, and gender are forms of staging and play. Lastly, I’m drawn to the dilemma of representation and self-alienation. To write is to represent; to represent is to lose the immediacy of self-presence; to publish is to risk entering into an economy of unequal exchange. How can the capaciousness of mind and, for that matter, the body, under these conditions, be portrayed? This question can only be answered by each specific painting, poem, and objective correlative to an immaterial idea whose content (or self) is created as it materializes, in form.
Author of the poetry chapbook Vox Populi (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, forthcoming), Virginia Konchan’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets, The Believer, Boston Review, and The New Republic. Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, she lives in Montreal.