An autohistoriography of felt time that arises from subversive hearing practices and the emotional prosody of a mother tongue one does not understand but activates in another poetic language.
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Comprised of three long poems, Teeter knows experimental forms can be as intimate as mothering; knows we can understand languages we do not speak. From “Hearing”’s intensities of attention, to “Ambient Mom”’s familial Filipino immigrant soundscapes, to “Histories”’s careful scrutiny of the socially-sanctioned narratives and trajectories to which we are meant to aspire, Teeter’s lessons in listening reverberate across career retrospectives and heritage languages, colonial histories and domestic intimacies, reattuning us to what we’ve neglected to notice in our efforts to create a life we can understand.
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Listen to sound poems from Teeter at bæst!
This is such a physical book to read. Kimberly Alidio animates the tendons of utterance and draws my attention to speech as transsubstantive. A vast listener in Teeter is opening us to counter-cartographic experience of place. Oceanic and archipelagic feeling regards the ancestral and the future without any will to claim or circumscribe. I feel ecstatic reading these poems. Deeply in my body, beyond it, the rangy freedom of perceiving, remembering what trace we are of one another.
Across three disjunct long poems, Kimberly Alidio’s writing excels at “tracking flows in listening” and a subtle, subversive weighing of words. Whether as writerly reader, as student of Pangasinan language, or as collaborator-after-the-fact to sound works by Maryanne Amacher, Lea Bertucci, and others—not so distant from Fred Moten’s writing “with” Cecil Taylor—this marvelous book has everything to do with media and modes of interface beyond the book: “employing all of the training of one’s ear, to be a co-presence.”
The sonic realm is this brilliant book’s polestar precisely because of its ongoingness and intimacy: a “pure affirmation that doesn’t affirm anything” (Ashbery). A powerful instrument against thought’s instrumentalization is voice—both as material inscription and event produced by a body, here in defiance of English’s hegemony. A poem’s speaker wonders about the possibility of “thinking & being in some kind of open conspiracy to persist in thinking & being.” Teeter offers an answer, and I couldn’t agree more with the interlocutor whose reply is, “I love poets, I hate celebrities.”
The three sections that make up this collection—“HEARING,” “AMBIENT MOM” and “HISTORIES”—are built as self-contained structures, whether long poems or suites, all of which explore through different elements of patterns of sound and rhythm, bouncing across line breaks and long sentences.
Through mixing, collaging, and looping, these poems become vehicles for both embodiment and investigation of the subject: sound—as music, as language, as simultaneously instinctive and cultural-political. . . . This book is not just a collection of noise, but a move toward reframing what exactly experimental poetry is “over time,” both collectively and individually.
Comprised of three long poems, Teeter knows experimental forms can be as intimate as mothering; knows we can understand languages we do not speak. . . . Teeter’s lessons in listening reverberate across career retrospectives and heritage languages, colonial histories and domestic intimacies, reattuning us to what we’ve neglected to notice in our efforts to create a life we can understand.
[Alidio’s] work, pedagogic and poetic, is that of a dexterous maker and attuned hearer. Teeter, her fourth full-length poetry book, marks the apex of a language poet’s work, where making occurs alongside documenting but does not extract from it and in which hearing surrounds language but does not acquire, master, or own it.
Teeter’s capacious brilliance brings to light a poetics of friction that teaches us that language is also a site of struggle, noncompliance, humor, and beauty. The stakes are high and infused with a kind of phonemic magic. Language is material and transforms materiality. To believe in language as material and action is to believe it can enable access through unconventional routes just as much as it can blockade. . . Teeter torques utterance into a revolution, a turning, a disordering of value on every conceivable level—semantic, syntactic, sonic.
Kimberly Alidio is the author of why letter ellipses; : once teeth bones coral : ; a cell of falls; and after projects the resound. With her partner, the poet Stacy Szymaszek, she …