i write utopia.
i spend most of my time reading, thinking, dreaming utopia and a lot of time agonising over how to express it all in words of my own. there’s usually a lot of blank space and silence involved. but i’ve found that it’s often the gaps and silences that bring multiple possibilities to life through fissures of meaning within & between the words. utopia’s an elusive landscape: crumbling to dust with every fence that’s built up around it or map that tries too precisely to locate it. it may be the perfect place, or no-place [utopia = ‘no place’; eutopia = perfect place] – the faultline lies within its etymological roots.
utopian poetics: a poetic practice that both performs and gestures towards the possibility of embodied intersubjectivity (non-alienation, non-oppression & non-violence).
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My poetry explores the intersection between a poetic practice and what Barrett Watten has called ‘New Age lifestyle politics’ (‘Language Poetry’s Concrete Utopia’, 2015). I write through the utopian possibilities and challenges that arise from the practise of both utopian poetics and an alternative lifestyle as forms of resistance to neoliberal politics, using a language-focused approach to open up unanalysed assumptions on both sides.
In my creative-critical practice I am exploring the possibilities for using utopian poetics as a research method to better understand the poetic practices of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. This is taking the form of a writing practice that works through the embodied gestures instigated by Cha in Dictee and other works.
My academic research explores utopian poetics in the work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. I am researching the ways in which Cha’s text and performance works both perform and gesture towards the possibility of intersubjectivity, or what Cha cites in her MFA thesis as ‘the interfusion between subject and object’, which was a central concern in her practice.
Here you’ll find rough workings and incomplete fragments of utopian poetics as a perpetual work-in-progress.
Sally-Shakti Willow researches and writes utopian poetics at the University of Westminster, where she is also a visiting lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing. Her creative practice explores utopian poetics in writing, book art and performance. Sally’s poetry has been published by Adjacent Pineapple, Eyewear, The Projectionist’s Playground and Zarf. The Unfinished Dream, a collaborative chapbook with visual artist Joe Evans was published by Sad Press in 2016. She writes reviews at The Contemporary Small Press and is on the judging panel for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. Follow her on Twitter: @Spaewitch.