“Every life is the defense of a form,” wrote Susan Sontag in her notebook in March, 1979. “Form is the defense of every marginalized life,” I wrote in my notebook in February, 2017. Hybridity is the salve & salvo for those of us who have been marginalized, who exist in the margins, who exist in the middle & on the edges, halfway between two points, at the intersection of categories & labels, race & ethnicity & gender, an expression of the isolation & alienation of non-binary, non-normative, mixed race bodies. What better way to empower our neo-mestizo experience than to re-present it through the liminal frame of the hybrid, cross-genre text? When I re-trained my own eyes how to see myself from outside myself, I began the long work in re-teaching myself how to write.
May all our accountings be irregular. May all our lives be in defense of form: our own blood & breath, breath & flesh. May we always defend our form; may our form always defend us from the hierarchies of genre & all of its generic expectations. A great deal has to be given up if you are going to succeed in creating a generative work of art, unless what might be given up is taken away from you. Unless what is taken away from you is your voice. If reading your writing is a way out of exile, writing toward a new way of reading is a method to engender empathy, dismantle conventional narrative, undo silencing.
In doing so, we’ll think about our own work in relation to the markers of lineation, prose poetry, the essay, & the list, not to form distinctions but to fulfill the synthesis of genre, the generic, & the generative. We’ll arrive in class ready to discuss ways in which we can integrate all of these markers in a piece, connect seemingly disparate moments & ideas, & leave with a great work-in-process.
Chris Campanioni (The Death of Art) is an American writer of Cuban and Polish descent. He was born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey, studied English literature and journalism at Lehigh University, and graduated from the MA program at Fordham University. He is the Senior Editor of PANK magazine and a lecturer of English literature and creative writing at Baruch College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Pace University. His "Billboards" poem that responded to Latino stereotypes and mutable—and often muted—identity in the fashion world was awarded the 2013 Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He lives in Brooklyn.