from EXAQUA [Oh, that's what I was]
Oh, that’s what I was originally thinking of with the notion of swimming or orbiting that you mentioned: a giant essay that interrupts (or cleaves?) into the book. To cleave is to separate and to bring together. To yoke. To it: I’m thinking of this essay I want to write as… Essay as Ocean. Not necessarily in a geographic, landscapey way but weirder, queer, dense, full of strange currents with different temperatures, something immersive, at times panicky, the feeling of losing oxygen but delighted by the sight of strange objects that litter the ocean floor. An oasis of sight. Geography textbooks and all of that richly descriptive language. How can anyone read about the unseen formation of volcanoes or the glacial creation of lakes and not feel connected to the Earth—capital E? Essay as a vast, limitless, edgeless, impossible-to-keep-in-one’s-head-all-at-once phenomenon. Essay as a way of breaking up the rest of the poems that surround it. I wanted to offer a break, a reprieve. Freedom from forms.
From Documents. Copyright © 2019 by Jan-Henry Gray. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions.
Jan-Henry Gray was born in the Philippines, and grew up in California. He is the author of Documents (BOA Editions, 2019), chosen by D. A. Powell as the winner of 2018 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Gray co-hosts Meanwhile, a zine-making and storytelling show, and lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Date Published: 2019-04-16
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/exaqua-oh-thats-what-i-was