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Even the grass was coming up positive
Soles beading little match tips of blood
A reticular glitch made me saccade like crazy
Clouds like anemones, electric fortresses
A fungal spore might colonize your mouth
As you ate a hamburger, the last hamburger
That was the year the hurricanes began
I hardly swelled but felt her features forming
There were airs, waters, places, daughters
I pressed my eyes dry like flowers-in-book
A tree couldn’t move without tearing its roots
There was no other world to bring a child into
Hi! I'm Annelyse. I built this website! Femme brutalism forever!
When I was 16, I went to a concert where a procession of teenage musicians performed Erik Satie's composition Vexations over and over, for 24 hours straight. They used a single piano and switched off when their fingers tired out. This exhausting, invigorating, boring, psychedelic experience was one of my earliest initiations into the attitudes undergirding my work: play, frustration, patience, a fondness for acknowledging and then discarding methodology; research by way of obsession; poetry as a force for guiding, modulating, amplifying, dispersing, and otherwise forming a relationship with the reader's attention. Art can be sublime and confusing and hilarious and fascinating and heartbreaking and many infinite other things; what makes good art good, to me, is that it helps us keep our attention in the right place, a worthwhile place. You've read the news, right?
Our attention is what forms the gist, the gestalt, the this-ness of experience. The built world, for many of us, privileges recollection and imagination far above perception, drawing us away from the present tense. There's a place for mentally occupying the past and future, of course, but there's a danger: "recollection" can mean operating on autopilot or dwelling on trivialities, and "imagination" can easily mean exposure to advertising designed to make you feel a sense of lack, falling into the tar pit of social media, and so on. There are many painful things to reckon with in the present tense, so naturally, my work is often painful. But what I am trying to do is to be present—to see, in the wise words of Ashitaka, with eyes unclouded by hate. To remember that I am going to die, and that I should try not to waste my life.
I am interested in art as a means of reclaiming our attention (particularly in the context in which I live; a lot of people are paying a lot of money for a slice of our attention, our lives), and expanding our capacities for perception; I am interested in domesticated, everyday technologies; I am interested in the edges of poetry, in using poetry as an artist, in working with language as a medium, recognizing the inherently rich poly-modal, multi-sensory potential of poetry, especially where it intersects with other media (especially music and film). I am interested in collaboration and cross-pollination and collectivity. I am interested, above all, in relationships. I am interested in forms of connection and disconnect — belonging, intimacy, loneliness, love, vulnerability, violence — and how they relate to broader systems (ecological, social, legal, economic, etc).
Thank you, whoever you are, for your attention. I hope my work rewards it. If you would like to find out when I make something new, my newsletter is your best bet!
Forthcoming in Spring 2023 from the University of Chicago Press: Vexations is a book-length poem—a surreal, glitchy meditation on social and economic collapse, nonhuman intelligence, and the limits of empathy.
Phoenix Poets consulting editor Douglas Kearney writes: “With this stunning shapeshifter of a manuscript, Gelman manages to create a remarkable hybrid: a book-length poetic narrative of speculative fiction, an urgent account of a mother/daughter relationship, and a coruscating view of our ecological future. . . . This is twenty-first-century literature in action.”
Annelyse Gelman's POOL, a collaboration between NECK Press and Midst, offers an exploded view of the process of writing a single poem about a man who has drowned in a municipal swimming pool. Each page features a single moment from the poem's creation (in lieu of page numbers, the book uses timestamps). As the poem completes itself, POOL's blue pages become darker and more saturated, mimicking the fading of light as one dives into a body of water.
awards, exhibitions, etc.