poems + essay
written by manuel arturo abreu
cover art by shell turner
published in December, 2016
perfect bound, 84 pgs.
transtrender is a book of lyric poems investigating the impossibility of language to express the bodily and social experience of transness. Written from an afrolatinx trans position, the work deals with the trap of visibility, the coloniality of gender, and the refusal of cogency in a moment where trans is trending (that is, being commodified and whitewashed).
abreu manically darts from image to image in their poems, working in a digitally-influenced poetic register which, as Brian Droitcour describes, “looks like flarf but isn’t.” The result is a text that resists opportunities for the reader to connect the dots, instead pushing toward an expanded lyric awareness in which poiesis does not betray its site-specificity, and gender nonconformity is not confined to a false narrative of emergence from white modernity.
divided into four sections: untitled, naming, site-specific poems, amotivational speech.
“abreu’s poetry looks like flarf, but isn’t.”
“Eschewing easy sentimentality and dull platitudes, abreu utilizes an internet-referencing, found text aesthetic that flirts with the deadpan while simultaneously transcending itself to unearth profound emotion and melancholy. The pain of being forced to name and thus understand oneself in the tongue of the colonizer drives the theme of stolen possibility that haunts each poem, ultimately asking the question, “what does it mean to mourn what never happened?” While there are no simple answers, abreu’s gorgeous deconstruction of language and identity stands as an achievement to behold.”
“manuel arturo abreu’s work is like putting on the right shoes with the right top. It’s like no sweat in the butt crack on a 90(F) degree day, but a bit on the brow because make it cute. abreu knows their literary angles, has been modeling since the age of 14 when Nigel Barker took that one Black and white shot in Santo Domingo and there they were… Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Milan, cocktails for lunch.”
manuel arturo abreu (b. 1991, Santo Domingo) is a poet and artist from the Bronx. They received a BA in Linguistics from Reed College in 2014 and are currently based in Portland. Their work is about precarity, magical thinking, and the possibility of surviving. Their first book, List of Consonants, is available from Bottlecap Press. Find them at twigtech.tumblr.com and @Deezius.
Links to excerpts/other work:
As a part of our T/GNC-POC Digital Proof Program, we are sending free digital PDF copies of this book to any reader who identifies as a gender-nonconforming or trans person of color. It is our belief that trans/GNC people of color should be allowed to read any book freely. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, no proof of identification necessary.
Reviewers may also inquire for a free review copy.