|Dimensions||5 × 1 × 7.8 in|
Part two of an autobiographical trance trilogy: intimate experiments in queer documentary and improvisatory poetics
|Dimensions||5 × 1 × 7.8 in|
Camp Marmalade takes the freedoms of trance utterance—unfettered verbal association, explicit auto-ethnography, erotic bricolage—and applies a more stringent sense of time-as-emergency to this liberation-oriented poetic method. Part diary, part collage, part textbook for a new School of Impulse, Camp Marmalade assembles a perverse and giddy cultural archive, a Ferris wheel of aphorisms, depicting a queer body amidst a dizzying flow of sensations, dreams, and sex-and-death distillations—whether sugary, fruity, bitter, expired, or freshly jarred.
Near Camp Cataract, down the way from Port Salut, whether cheese or navvy zone, Wayne Koestenbaum’s Camp Marmalade sits, lemony, curiously positioned, between epic alps and salty, notebook sound, i.e., tidbit commedia. Open to all comers, the camp is helmed by counselors (Duncan Smith, Friederike Mayröcker, and Lionel Hampton among them) who lead adventurers in a smorgasbord of activities, from “incest stardom fantasy” to “semantic depilation,” from “dung oeuvre[s]” to directing “sunlight on slut emporia.” After lewd s’mores, instead of “Taps” the assembled sing “La Juive ‘Boléro’” and call it a night—it’s that kind of place. The “sieve of I am” has never produced a tenderer flower.
Prolific cross-genre author Koestenbaum attempts to “assemble an/ entire life from found/ scraps” in this sequel to 2015’s The Pink Trance Notebooks. The stream-of-consciousness form, composed of many very short poems, continues here, congealing into a lengthy work of obsessions and candid ponderings. These fragments and assorted bits of condensed verse reveal a mind wandering from snapshots in a family scrapbook to Sharpie markings at a local glory hole to classical composers. Koestenbaum writes of the erotic, the highbrow, personal defects, Proustian memories, and more, effortlessly sliding between deep cuts and film stills: “brothers, together in tub/ when father leaves,/ experiment with rubber ducks.” Such omniscient contortions and synaptic musings constantly refresh the text and hold the reader’s rapt attention. The collection is propelled by Koestenbaum’s ability to navigate hairpin turns between existential crisis and deliciously naughty sex joke in a single line break. The work is split into 40 sections, but these borders often feel artificial and unnecessary, as this text acts as one fluid unit with the end of one poem never feeling more weighted than any of the fragments that come before or after. Whether referencing La Bohème, Donald Winnicott, bondage gear, Brooke Shields, or a haunting dream of massaging a baby, Koestenbaum’s work entices in all its sui generis, subconscious musing.