Monsters I Have Been
Monsters I Have Been
"Liu relishes the absurd and the happenstance, that 'tornado gorgeous' that becomes possible with a non-utilitarian approach to language."
Kenji C. Liu (劉謙司) is the author of Map of an Onion, national winner of the 2015 Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize. His poetry is in American Poetry Review, Action Yes!, Apogee, Barrow Street, The Feminist Wire, The Progressive, The Rumpus, The Volta, Split This Rock’s poem of the week series, several anthologies, and two chapbooks, Craters: A Field Guide (2017) and You Left Without Your Shoes (2009). A Kundiman fellow and an alumnus of VONA/Voices, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Community of Writers, he lives in Los Angeles.
"...Liu shows us beauty and danger contained within the same turns of phrase, which can house both violence and redemption, light and unspeakable darkness. The poems in Monsters I Have Been call attention to the remarkable disconnect between language and the real world toward which it constantly gestures."
"Monsters I Have Been leads by example in showing how experimental writing can be an act of communal love."
“Liu is at the vanguard, and many people will read this collection wishing they could pull off similar work.”
–Barbara Berman, The Rumpus
"Monsters I Have Been dismantles a canon with tools that the majority of western experimental poets didn’t know existed. These monsters are rocking the foundation and teaching the rubble how to fall."
“Kenji C. Liu’s Monsters I Have Been writhes knotty tentacles through textual boneyards, disturbing screenplays, theoretical works, and literatures in their coffined-off sleeps. What it draws back are parts through which the poet might, as Lucille Clifton wrote, make up ‘a kind of life’ in the global slaughterhouse of heteropatriarchy and racism. Sharp, protean, dexterous, and discontent—Liu’s collection shows where the bodies have been buried, and that many won’t stay dead. No doubt, this book is alive as all hell.”
“The monstrosity of the times speak to us through filmscripts, internet writings, faux-apologies, divinations, public utterances, and savage declarations that hit from all directions—letting us know that the patriarchal, capitalist, heteronormative inheritance of poetry no longer suffices to meet the demands of the day. Gone is the poet’s singular voice, the poetic transmission from muse or god or anguished affect. These frankenpos, as Kenji Liu calls them, arise from the thick and twitching mass of language constantly exploding between our ears—the overflow is rebellious, unapologetic, multilingual, and fierce.”
“In his book Monsters I Have Been, Kenji Liu offers the franken-po(em) as swarm, as a reterritorialization of the border, of the montage, of the assemblage, a series of sensuous, disorienting confrontations. Gravities, sinkholes, craters, and other forms of post-slippage encounter grass, tide, fish and other types of undulations. The symphonic, multilingual, multi-signage aspect of Monsters I Have Been allows for the question of what are you to be asked again and again, through different veils and performances of blur, innocence, and aggression. Read this spectacular, sexy book because it is a sublime, dusky love letter to our resurrections and our de/formations, ‘Deep earlight, you could be fuel for gender thievery.’”
— 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin, author most recently of Unbearable Splendor
“Yes. Kenji Liu has a solution. Or a dis-solution. His poems do. Are proposing to: infiltrate then shock then dismantle then plunder the careening, overspreading bodies of capitalist extremism and inhuman monstrosity, in order to redistribute the wreckage, in order to (in his words) grow a monster of compassion and ferocity. Liu’s virtuosic mind is so inside outside and out ahead, so precisely compassionate and ferocious. Because he has, in the laboratory that is Monsters I Have Been, already started.”
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