Saturday, April 11, 2009

Constance Stadler Reviews A.D. Hitchin's The Holy Hermaphrodite

In an extensive and highly informative interview of A. D. Hitchin’s ground breaking chapbook, ”The Holy Hermaphrodite” (Shadow Archer Press), the author makes a statement as to the relevance of cut-up poetry in the modern digital age.

“One of the reasons I use cut-up is to introduce true spontaneity into my work. To find combinations that a linear-lead human mind would not arrive at without using the process. Mostly, I seek to retain what is genuinely unique or startling, whilst deleting anything superfluous …Ultimately, the only limit of cut-up is the user’s imagination.”

What is clear from the start is that this is a ground breaking work. Citing strong influences such as P-Orridge, it is soon clear that “hermaphroditic’ has many meanings. This is not only an attempt to delve into the Gysin/Burroughs ‘virus’, it is to take it to a higher level. His authorial voice and rarefied editorial prowess combine in creating poetic explorations of conceptual and very real binaries, sexual difference and unity, the very nature of identity, and the plight of Modern Man resonate throughout. The first two poems are vivid illustrations.

In ‘To Gysin with Love [Permutation Pervasive]’ the assault on identity is intense and the glibness of normality is ripped open:
I travel 

mutated system shock flicker effect brainwaves: ‘Where are the agents of resistance?’

[Insert sounds of dinner party; background conversation, clinking of glasses, plates]

‘What do you do?’

‘Well, I am travelling electric skin-tingling intensity, am stillness in motion with
basis extended vision …

and you?’

The title poem speaks with passion directly of both the falsehood of gender duality and the imperative for new conceptualizations:
separation hermaphrodic erotic composite female - inter-sex
inter-sexual and passive male
active evolution mutation:
The Holy Hermaphrodite
unified together

There are other poems that are less cut-ups than ‘blended writes’, in these Hitchin’s voice is fluid and eloquent, at times, simply beautiful, but always he stands at the brink, always the edge. As in ‘Nubian’:

black like death cries
black as Nubian Coffee’s black


her aroma
flashing neon
latex curves sticky with

bare light bulb
blurs a halo

white like mortuary

Or in ‘Lycanthropy’ where conformity and pointlessness sets loose the encaged beast within:
masturbating unlived dreams 

raw shrieking at moon
clawing moss of
Auswitch death monoliths
networks shift


Or the profound heady richness of ‘Stars’:
burning out 
hot nights velvet wetness
smoke smouldering, coiling
borders bleeding at the fireplace, the corners
as a bedtime story,
high on amphetamine sun pouring liquid …

lounging was our violence

Hitchin’s poetic talent for prosody and an impeccable command of language dances in lines such as these from ‘Cursor [e-male]’

cherry coronets laser raspberry ripples black 
cherry flex electro

The reader wants to laugh, and that is deliberate, for a there is a deliberate dark humor that seeks to further strip us of all our defenses.

The final two poems are almost symphonic in bringing the work to its close, both in ‘Aristophanes Planet’ and, as so blindingly clear, in this excerpt from ‘Transmutation {and on the seventh day God made M/ADAM}’:
Terrified with leaden feet, she massages his girth expertly.  He jets upward, splattering 
like a pistol in rainbow neon. Blackened fissure muscles flutter spectre schools and stark
crux, his fearful river progressively engulfing a series of luxury cars, houses,
destinations and latest ‘must-have’ consumables and electronics. Pulling aside their panties,
breathy she-male worshippers main-vein milk coloured hypodermics, the room disintegrating
grey, rupturing into female operatives, intercourse transfixed edges diffusing vocal groans,
cheeks flushed, vaginas tightened drawing feverish glee.

Not a few have noted that Hitchin’s is a ‘genius’, the quintessential ‘lingual alchemist’, ‘[O] ne of England’s most prolific, most varied, and most excellent poets’.

They are correct.

--Constance Stadler is the author of Tinted Steam (Shadow Archer) and Sublunary Curse(Erbacce) and the Review Editor for Calliope Nerve. Purchase The Holy Hermaphrodite here.

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