cover image Poem Bitten by a Man

Poem Bitten by a Man

Brian Teare. Nightboat, $18.95 trade paper (108p) ISBN 978-1-64362-210-1

Teare’s exquisite latest (after Doomstead Days) defies genres as it engages with queer artistic legacy and process. Moving fluidly from prose to verse, the collection takes formal inspiration from collage, assembling itself from the history of queer artists like Jasper Johns and Agnes Martin, an illness journal, and ruminations on writing and visual art. In one of a series of poems that take up an entire page in widely spaced lines suggesting Johns’s well-known collages of flags, Teare writes: “every object of study/ a fantasy object/ that survives/ the inevitable/ reader who says hello/ dear other/ i destroyed you/ i love you.” Drawing on journal entries written during a period of chronic illness, Teare juxtaposes art and life: “Though finished artworks try to hide it, ‘finish’ is often predicated upon denying the interdependence of the object & the artist’s body, how easily numbers slip into alphabets & into body parts & colors. For a long time I lie in pain on the doctor’s examination table’s awkward paper, afraid to rip it.” Ultimately, it is “not perfection/ but the inevitable/ form of the idea” that Teare seeks. This dazzling consideration of queer art and life will challenge and enlighten its readers. (Sept.)