Read the introduction, "This Mid-Air in Which We Tremble: Women & the Avant-Garde" by Chet'la Sebree.



The Imperative

It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognizes as existent.
                                                                                                                                        —Alain Badiou


The Universe and the Avante-Garde

 The universe is expanding, and in doing so, space is created. Constant. Constantly. When we talk about the expanding universe, we mean that it has been growing since its beginning. The Big Bang.

In warm, shallow waters, it is speculated that the cuttlefish’s eyes are fully formed before birth, that they surveil the world around them from within the egg. They may prefer to hunt the prey they saw before hatching.

Imprint: a mark made by pressing something onto a softer substance so that its outline is reproduced; a lasting impression or effect.

Imprint: (of a young animal) to come to recognize (another animal, person, or thing) as a parent or other object of habitual trust.

Over crisply deep-fried soft-shelled crab, a longtime mentor says poetry ought to emulate the universe. We know Pound said, Make it new.

The universe creates new space. Makes new. Poetry should make new.

The Past Can Be Made New

In moments of violence, rifts in perspective occur. Things shift. Stories, teeth. Eggs, buttons, beliefs.

What exit from the status quo does not entail a rupture?

A suicide is constant. A brother is constantly dead. Dust to stardust.

I am made new. Brotherless sister. I was not born a brother. We cannot be reborn. Some of us will be mothers. I am doing no mothering.

February 22, 2016: a new physics model predicts the universe had no beginning.

With no origin story, there exists no status quo.

I have no records of nothing. What I see, I do not yet know exists.



Diana Khoi Nguyen is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver. Her poems appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, PEN America, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere.