Selected by Simone White as Winner of the NOS Prize
Harnessing street protest as a poetic formation, Villainy exhibits the desires that bring queers into public space.
Andrea Abi-Karam answers the call to action for poetry itself to become the radical accomplice it was destined to be in their second book, Villainy. In order to live through the grief of the Ghostship Fire & the Muslim Ban, Villainy foments political action in public spaces, and indexes the various emotional states, such as rage, revelry, fear, grief, and desire to which queers must tend during protest. In scenes loaded with glitter, broken glass, and cum, Abi-Karam insists that in order to shatter the rising influence of new fascism we must embrace the collective work of antifascists, street medics, and queer exhibitionists and that the safety that we risk is reckless and necessary. Disruptive and demanding, these punk poems embody direct action and invite the audience into the desire-filled slippage between public sex and demonstration. At heart, Villainy aims to destroy all levels of hierarchy to establish a participatory, temporary autonomous zone in which the targeted other can thrive.
“In an industry that encourages the toothless, Andrea Abi-Karam’s propulsive Villainy calls: ‘give the poem teeth.’ In an industry that incants, this book incites, revealing the revolutionary potential of desire, of determined disfiguration, of poetry itself, which, in Abi-Karam’s hands and ways becomes, as the street, a site of unbounded action. Here is a poetry that demolishes poetry. A fire to our fascist order. A book fully alive.”